Scott Aims to Slash Best and Brightest Program, Increase Per-Pupil Spending in State Budget

Gov. Rick Scott plans to boost education spending in Florida, honing in on college scholarships and slashing controversial teacher scholarships as part of his $83.5 billion budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Scott proposed $24 billion for the Florida Department of Education. Around $14 billion of that money would be set aside for Florida’s public school system. Under Scott’s new budget, per-pupil spending would increase slightly to $7,421, an uptick of about $216 from last year’s $7,205. The State Board of Education requested $7,360 per pupil for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Scott has not recommended setting aside any state funding for the controversial Best and Brightest teacher scholarship program, which gives highly rated teachers bonuses up to $10,000 based on how they performed on the SAT or ACT. Recipients of the scholarship typically scored in the 80th percentile on the tests, which are now mostly optional for admissions to colleges and universities nationwide. Critics of the program say they don’t understand how their performance on a test taken when they were 16 or 17 has any impact on their teaching skills. Instead of pushing for the Best and Brightest scholarship, the governor is instead asking the state legislature to approve $58 million for a teacher recruitment and retainment program. “Teachers are key to preparing our future generations for great careers and we have to make investments to recruit and retain the best educators in our...

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