Florida: Let them eat laptops!
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida has stated today that he thinks he has the answer to an anticipated shortfall in teacher recruitment. Due to a class size limitation which was passed this year, Florida will need to hire about 30,000 new teachers, as well.
All of Florida's nearly 164,000 public school teachers would receive laptop computers under a $237 million plan to recruit and retain educators, which Gov. Jeb Bush unveiled Monday at North Miami Middle School.
The laptop portion of the proposal would cost nearly $200 million.
Democrats and teacher union leaders criticized the plan, pointing out that there is another, more capitalist way to ease recruitment woes: (drumroll, please) Pay teachers more! (b'doom CHING!)
Bush said increasing pay -- especially for starting teachers and experts in shortage areas such as math and science -- is part of the solution. Florida's salaries rank 29th in the country, according to the American Federation of Teachers, with its average of $40,598, about $6,000 below the national average....
Many districts offer signing bonuses of $5,000, according to Miami-Dade School Board member Ana Rivas Logan, who added that Miami-Dade should beat those by offering $10,000.
Union leaders, however, worried the recruitment incentives would do little to retain teachers.
''Once that initial money is gone, is the salary adequate to retain the teachers?'' asked Karen Aronowitz, president of the United Teachers of Dade. ``If you can't qualify for a mortgage because of your salary, having a down payment does what?''
Of course, there's a reason why giving teachers a laptop is preferred to raising salaries: buying laptops would be a one-time expense, while adding $2000 to every salary would compound through the wonders of the pay scale for the next thirty years.
Well, Fast Freddy, whaddaya think, pal?