Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the Florida House, has named his Education Chair. It is Miami’s Representative, attorney Michael Bileca. According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, we can expect more of the same.
Bileca was the champion of the Parent Trigger, voucher expansions, and the Best and Brightest teacher bonus program based on SAT scores. We know what lies ahead. Be prepared.
If you do not remember the battle over parent trigger legislation, it is a law that allows parents to turn low performing public schools into privately run charter schools. Seven states have enacted variations of this law. The National Council of State Legislatures promotes it. It causes havoc by dividing parents. Children in the public school may or may not enroll in the charter. If they are not enrolled or are ‘counseled out’, where do they attend school?
The Best and Brightest bonus program has been generally debunked by the Florida Education Association which filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations claiming discrimination. It gives up to $10,000 to teachers who have high scores on the SAT or ACT and also receive highly effective teacher ratings. This three percent of eligible teachers may continue to receive the bonus as long as their ratings remain high. The problem of course is that some of the most effective teachers have test scores below the cutoff for bonuses. Other teachers may have high ratings one year but not the next…same teacher, different children. Many argue that bonuses simply throw away money; they neither improve teacher recruitment or reduce teacher attrition.
Voucher expansion may take various forms. The Corporate Tax Credit vouchers to private schools currently have an income cap eligibility of $63,000 for a family of four. There could be a move to raise the income eligibility to allow higher income families with children in private schools to use the vouchers to help pay tuition. Corporations donate the money they owe in taxes to cover the costs. Currently there is a cap on the amount of money corporations are allowed to donate rather than to pay to the general fund in the State government. Thus, the State would have to find other sources of revenue to meet expenses or simply continue to cut services and shift the tax burden to local communities.