Acknowledging the push back he's received from members of his own party — who believe bonuses should only go to teachers who perform better in the classroom — Scott said, "some say they are afraid that giving raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But, thanks to our work, we are now in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom."
Like Medicaid expansion, however, the governor doesn't get the last word on the subject; that's the Legislature's purview.
Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements said teachers in each county need to be at the bargaining table with administration officials to decide how to best distribute the new funds.
Clements told CL she's optimistic that the Legislature will follow through with the governor's proposal to distribute a one-time bonus to all teachers, but she thinks teachers and parents remain skeptical.
"The teachers and educators across this state absolutely deserve an increase in salary, period," she said at Lykes Gaslight Park in Tampa at the Awake Tampa rally for voting rights. "It doesn't have to be tied to anything because they've already proven themselves, they've already demonstrated high effectiveness across the state and we've got all types of data to show that our kids are doing better than 20 years ago."
Although Clements disagrees with Legislature members who want bonuses to be given out by merit, she believes that teachers with experience should see the biggest part of any raises.
"They're the ones who've worked so many years for so little ... I don't want to turn any money down but it's not fair. It's not right that a teacher who has been teaching for six months gets the same increase as someone who has taught for 20 years and has made a a difference in our schools for this past decade and a half," she said.
Members from teachers' unions in Florida have insisted that while they greatly appreciate the governor's proposal, they still believe that the state remains uncompetitive in recruiting or maintaining good teachers because they're underpaid by an average of about $10,000 nationally.
"I want that $2,500 to be the bottom," Clements said of teacher pay increases. "That's what the base salary increase for any teacher should be. Give us enough money to allow us to give larger salary increases for people who have worked so little for so long."