Florida Teacher Bonus Seeks to Reward 'Content Experts'

The Board of Education sets a definition through emergency rule

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Lawmakers set new rules in the spring for who could qualify for a “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus this year.

One of the categories it created was a “recruitment” award. It would be paid to newly hired teachers deemed “content experts” in mathematics, science, computer science, reading or civics.

The Legislature left it to the Department of Education to define what that meant.

On Monday, citing a lack of time before school resumes to follow the usual rule-making process, the department called an emergency meeting of the Florida Board of Education to codify its newly drafted definition. Florida Politics, which caught what it called the department’s “red alert time,” noted the 10-minute conference call meeting, advertised in the Florida Administrative Register, “was over by the time many people actually get around to reading the Register.”

So are you a “content expert”? Here’s how the new rule defines it.

Any “in field” teacher with a valid certificate “per the course code directory” would be considered to have expertise in the subject area. Alternatively, these options also exist:

• In math, science and computer science, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in the subject area from an accredited institution, and at least five years’ experience teaching or working in an associated field.

• In civics, you must have at least a master’s degree in political science, American history, social studies, or social science from an accredited institution, or a bachelor’s degree in one of those subjects with at least five years’ experience teaching or working in an associated field.

• In reading, you must have a master’s degree in English, English literature, reading, or literacy instruction from an accredited institution, or a bachelor’s degree in one of those subjects with at least five years’ experience teaching or working in an associated field.

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Teachers meeting those requirements are now eligible for a $4,000 bonus from the state. Recruitment bonuses must be paid before districts can distribute other types of “Best and Brightest” bonuses.

Some districts are still hiring.

The board expects to bring this rule up for additional discussion at a future meeting. You can listen to the board’s July 29 conference call here.

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