Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade teachers get their ‘Best and Brightest’ bonuses

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami
Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami Courtesy photo

Miami-Dade teachers got a pay boost Friday, when the controversial Best and Brightest bonuses were doled out.

Florida lawmakers approved the $44 million program last year to reward teachers with high classroom ratings – and top scores on their own ACTs and SATs, which are typically taken in high school to get into college.

In Miami-Dade, about 500 teachers applied for the bonus and almost 200 qualified, according to figures provided by the school district. They got paid on Friday as Spring Break began: $8,256.27 minus payroll and income tax.

The bonuses, first proposed by Miami Rep. Erik Fresen, aren't exactly welcomed.

The statewide teachers union, the Florida Education Association, has called the program discriminatory in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The makers of the ACT and SAT have said they haven't studied whether high scores on their tests correlate to better teaching. A representative for ACT suggested using the college entrance exam to reward teachers is "not appropriate."

Still, lawmakers approved the bonuses again this year. In fact, they expanded it to $49 million.

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga