Local Reaction to Riley’s Teaching Bonuses

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Local teachers say they think Governor Riley’s proposed bonuses might be a good idea. News 4 talked with teachers, and many educators are concerned about the fairness of the assessment process for incentives.

Sheila Thomley has been teaching 12th grade English at Rehobeth High School for 17 years.

She enjoys working with young people, but she agrees she's underpaid. “We work extremely hard; [we] deserve [the] pay we get and we appreciate every pay raise,” she says.

But she stops short of advocating a teacher incentive bonus program.

She and other teachers she works with think it's a good idea, but is concerned with the assessment process based on test scores.

Governor Riley wants to start a five year experiment offering bonuses to the most effective teachers in the state.

Principal Matt Swann says the bonus idea isn't new and the governor should focus on another thing first. “I think we need to focus on raising the national average for teachers before looking at the bonuses,” says Principal Swann.

Principal Swann agrees with Thomley that teachers need more money; they just want it to be a fair process.

Thomley did say she thinks bonuses are a good idea because they would bring out the best in teachers and make them work harder.

Also Wednesday, the Florida Senate approved legislation that would replace a system that gives bonuses to teachers based upon how their classes do on achievement tests.

The new merit awards program would give local teachers unions and school districts more flexibility in developing performance pay plans.

The bill goes to the House Thursday for a final vote.

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