Even though many of you are dealing with the aftermath of Irma, we wanted to let you know that because of legal timing deadlines we have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the 2015 law that ties teacher bonuses to their college entrance exam scores.
We thought long and hard about proceeding with this lawsuit. We know some of you may have received this bonus and have enjoyed the extra income.
The legislators behind this bonus plan knew full well that it could become a wedge between teachers who received the bonus and others who did not. They knew it was not a fair method for paying teachers. They knew a bonus would not be a permanent part of your salary. They knew that many teachers and education staff professionals would be left out of the program. Their decision was a cynical and heartless political gimmick.
FEA cannot allow lawmakers to establish discriminatory ploys to circumvent paying teachers fair and professional salaries. We cannot ignore that Florida’s teachers are underpaid and that they should not have to jump through hoops to earn bonuses to augment a salary that is still considerably less than the national average. And that doesn’t take into account that a bonus is not part of retirement compensation nor is it considered part of the income that banks would look at for a mortgage or a home improvement loan.
We must ensure every educator has the training, resources and support all professionals need. This means recruiting and supporting people who love kids. It means pay that attracts and helps retain the best people for the job. The unfair and illogical provisions of Best and Brightest do neither and have made Florida, once again, the laughing stock of the country. Sadly, the Legislature has made a huge investment in a program that will not improve our students’ learning environment.
We ask for your support as we move through the legal process. We pledge to you that the FEA will continue our fight to ensure Florida’s teachers and education staff professionals are treated and paid as professionals.
Joanne M. McCall, President
Florida Education Association
NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO
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