‘Best and Brightest' repeal proposed

The powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee filed a proposal Friday that would repeal the state's long-controversial "Best and Brightest" teacher bonus program.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, filed the bill (SB 440) for consideration during the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January.

Teacher compensation could become a key issue during the session. Gov. Ron DeSantis has been working on a teacher-compensation plan and told reporters recently that the framework of the Best and Brightest program is "very complicated" and that he might not necessarily want to include the program as part of his plan.

Also, Bradley's bill came after the state agreed to pay $15.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that focused on allegations that the Best and Brightest program discriminated against black and Hispanic teachers. Those allegations stemmed from the state's past use of teachers' scores on ACT and SAT college-entrance exams in helping determine whether teachers should receive bonuses.

The Florida Education Association union and individual plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in 2017 alleging that the use of the SAT and ACT scores had a "disparate impact" on black, Hispanic and older teachers.

Under the settlement, which is pending before a federal judge, money would go to black and Hispanic classroom teachers who were rated as "highly effective" but did not receive Best and Brightest bonuses since the program took effect in 2015. 

© 2019 The News Service of Florida.