Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ transition committees are meeting this week in Tallahassee to help the Republican iron out his policy agenda in advance of his January 8 inauguration.
At an education and workforce development advisory phone conference Wednesday, co-chair Marva Johnson led a discussion on teacher compensation, instructional expenditures, and higher education accountability.
Several callers expressed concerns about tying teacher pay to student performance. But Johnson, who also chairs the state’s Board of Education, doubled down on the importance of consistently evaluating teachers.
“Excellence isn’t a destination, it’s a journey that we’re constantly evaluating the right things and, for the things we’re measuring, we’re measuring them correctly in an effort to accomplish some of the goals we’re setting,” she said.
Currently, teachers are evaluated on a value-added model, or VAM, where their contributions are measured by student learning growth.
Critics say the value-added model relies on data that teachers can’t control and is therefore not a real representation of their abilities.
“I work with students that have limited intelligence because they have brain damage. How am I going to be assessed,” said a teacher from Hillsboro County Public Schools. “Teachers are not motivated by money. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be paid. They should be. It’s just very difficult when you don’t have an equal beginning point with every kid that you can pay teachers from.”
The program will continue in the DeSantis administration and Johnson said she’s heard many teachers talk about the value of VAM.
Johnson was joined by the governor-elect’s Deputy Chief of Staff James Blair.
“The governor-elect expressed on the campaign trail a strong desire to really make sure we maximize the amount of the dollar we spend on K-12 education going to classroom expenditure to really help those children learn,” he said.
The incoming administration wants to mandate 80% of all K-12 education funding be used exclusively in the classroom.
Many raise concern's about the the feasibilty of the proposed policy.
Andy Tuck, Vice Chairman of the State Board of Education, said he's "thrilled" about the the policy, but it has challenges.
"80% going to the classroom is going to be a pretty tough goal to me," he said. "I think statewide we should look at how we might consolidate some areas of responsibility with different districts or collaborate with different districts."
Tuck said the major challege is that roughly half the employees are non-instructional.
The DeSantis administration is also a major proponent of school choice.