In 2010, the Legislature required Florida’s public schools and universities to gather and report statistics showing how much material each had recycled during the year. On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 1096, ending that and a list of other strange regulations — including a 2002 requirement that schools submit plans for teaching foreign languages to kindergartners.
The governor and legislative leaders hailed the bill for doing away with “unnecessary and burdensome regulations.” On the same day, however, the governor and legislative leaders agreed to a plan for teacher raises that creates a bureaucratic maze that will make the regulations they had just repealed seem like models of efficiency.
Gov. Scott’s goal was to give teachers a $2,500 across-the-board raise, to take effect this year. That $480 million plan was straightforward; even so, it would have required action and bargaining with teacher unions by local school boards. The compromise deal is orders of magnitude more complicated. Blame the Legislature for demanding that the raises be tied to evaluations. Immediately, that delays the raises until June 2014.
So each school district will have to develop an evaluation system. No problem, because legislators already required districts to tie teacher pay to performance by 2014, right? But the evaluation systems aren’t in place, and even Gov. Scott is realizing that the evaluation schemes are bogus. Too many teachers will receive evaluations based on scores of students whom they don’t even teach. In any case, whatever evaluation plans school boards adopt likely will have to be submitted for review by the Department of Education — a prospect that could make those recycling reports seem easy.
The Legislature mucked up other things as well. Non-teaching personnel, including school psychologists, librarians and guidance counselors, will be eligible for the raises. Good for them, but legislators expanded the pool of recipients without increasing the pot of money for raises. So most teachers probably won’t get the $2,500, and there will be increased concern that in future years the Legislature won’t provide enough money to make the raises permanent.
Gov. Scott proposed the raises to win back teachers he alienated with the evaluation law and by requiring a 3 percent pension contribution. Gov. Scott is claiming victory. In fact, he did not get what he wanted or what teachers deserved. He freed teachers from a few rules, but now he’ll let the Legislature tangle them — and their raises — in an bureaucratic web.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board