LISTEN LIVE

DeSantis Announces New Teacher Bonus, Recruitment Programs

Feb 7, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new programs for teacher retention and recruitment at a news conference Thursday morning at Armwood High School in Seffner.

Desantis' proposal would include $422 million in the state budget for teacher bonuses.

"This new bonus program will reward teachers with bonuses exceeding $9,000 for nearly 45,000 highly effective teachers at schools that grew at least one percent in their grading calculation," said DeSantis.

This bonus program would replace the controversial “Best and Brightest” bonus structure, which in part determines teacher bonuses based on their high school SAT and ACT scores.

Last year, one percent of the bonus recipients were African-American teachers. DeSantis said if the proposed criteria were in place with last year’s data, that figure would have been 9.8 percent.

He said he’s open to ideas on how the program can be structured to be most effective.

“I think clearly we are going in the right direction by moving away from the standardized testing component,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis also announced a loan forgiveness program.

"We are unveiling a new recruitment program, which will go $10 million a year for the next five years for a loan and tuition forgiveness program for as many as 1,700 new teachers who commit to working as a Florida teacher for five years."

The third proposal unveiled during the news conference is the creation of a "bad actor" list to hold charter school operators accountable.

“I’m a supporter of different options for parents - I’m including public charter schools,” DeSantis said. “But at the same time, we’ve seen some of these operators behave in ways that have not been conducive to taxpayer dollars. They basically do something for a year or two, make some money, the thing collapses, and they move on and do it again.

“So we are going to work with the Department of Education - we may need new legislation - to create a 'bad actor' list. So if somebody is engaged in this type of conduct, I don’t want them to be able to go work behind the scenes some other place, and then repeat the failure time and time again.”

The state legislature has to approve the money allotted for these new programs before they take effect. The session begins March 5 in Tallahassee.