yugo

It has been a dreary and rainy weekend in Miami. It’s beginning to feel like Seattle, only thirty degrees warmer. Miami is great in sunny weather, but when the skies turn grey, there ain’t much to do in this town. Even with Art Basel going on, Kafkateach is starting to get cabin fever. Even if I had the money, the time, or the inclination to go to an Art Basel event, now I would have to fear getting stabbed by a crazy female artist armed with an exacto knife.

In true pretentious artsy-fartsy style, the patrons of the exhibit were extremely slow to react to the young woman spewing blood from her neck because they thought it was performance art! The stabber is quoted as saying, “I had to kill her. I had to watch her bleed.” In the photo accompanying the article, she looks like she’s posing for a Vogue fashion shoot instead of being booked for attempted murder. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article48177055.html

All of this week’s random violence has got Kafkateach wondering if the world has gone insane. Then after reading an article in the Tampa Bay Times about the Florida House Education Committee meeting to devise legislation to make the nationally ridiculed SAT based “Best and Brightest Scholarships” permanent, I had my answer. Yes, indeed, the world has gone insane and leading the pack are Florida Republican legislators. If there is to be an end of days, it will no doubt start in the Tallahassee legislature. This is an actual quote from a Florida Republican legislator regarding Best and Brightest:

“We want to open up the hood and see what’s under there,” Legg said Tuesday, indicating continued concerns with the model. “Is this a Porsche? Or is this a Yugo?”

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/floridas-controversial-teacher-bonus-based-on-sat-scores-returns/2255954

Is this guy a friggin’ mechanic or a legislator? If Senator John Legg seriously needs to ask this question, I can easily assume he did not score in the 80th percentile of his SAT. I can tell you without even lifting the lid, Best and Brightest is one giant pile of discriminatory stank meant to recruit young teachers for Florida charter schools and ensure a continuing flow of TFA temps for large urban districts. No wonder he wants to lower the minimum SAT score to the top 60th percentile, which will water down the bonus even further.

If you haven’t heard the news so far, the $10,000 bonus is projected to be $8,600. This is still shockingly high and a fat chunk of change for having scored well on one stinking test twenty years ago. I’m assuming next year’s lottery winnings will be much smaller once more teachers have heard about the program and completed the $500 Kaplan SAT Prep course taught by one of their former students. Oh, the humiliation of it all……

All of this said, I may stand to be one of the lucky recipients of this large sum of unwarranted money. Only I have no idea if the district sent my name into the state because the Dade County school district operates under a cone of silence, especially regarding Best and Brightest. First, they waited until the very last minute to inform their teachers and they did so in the Weekly Briefing email knowing that most teachers have that on auto delete . Second, all we had to do was take a photo with our cellphones of our test scores (Photoshop anyone? Hell, even White Out would have probably worked). Third, we received no confirmation that our applications were received or sent on to the state. I even emailed the Human Resources officer in charge of Best and Brightest to ask if teachers would be receiving confirmation that their names were sent to the state. I have received no response and the several other teachers who emailed him also received no response. Is Miami-Dade onto something that other Florida districts are not? Are they hedging their bets that Best and Brightest will be thrown out in court and they don’t want any paper trail that might in some way hold them accountable to teachers who were planning on receiving $8,600 on April 1st?

It would be nice if Miami-Dade teachers were actually able to do some financial planning in advance. $8,600 could be a vacation to Europe for some teachers, help to pay closing costs on a house for others, or perhaps pay for that 2008 Honda Civic they had their eye on. At this point, Miami-Dade teachers have no idea what to expect as annual salaries. Miami-Dade has the vaguest possible salary schedule in the nation posted on their portal. The only information they provide is a minimum of $40,500 to a maximum of $71,000. So a new TFA teacher may start off making nearly $50,000 if they were the recipient of Best and Brightest, only to get their first effective evaluation and a ten thousand dollar pay cut the following year. How does anyone plan their financial future around that? How does anyone plan their financial future around a pay schedule that may give them a raise of 0-4% in any given year but does not guarantee them any financial advancement at all?

By attempting to make the insanity of Best and Brightest a permanent fixture of teacher pay in Florida, the Florida House Education Committee is relegating a massive portion of the state’s teachers to a perpetual underclass of poor test takers, who no matter how hard they work and perform in the classroom, will continuously make thousands less than their peers all because of one test that was designed to determine success in college and has failed in it’s ability to determine even that. Either these politicians are legally insane, or they just don’t give a damn.

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