Florida recently took another step in trying to hold onto the position of the state with the most bat-guano crazy education policy in the country. Seems Rep. Eric Fresen read himself a book and-- voila!-- a bold new policy was born. Giving teachers bonuses for their old SAT or ACT scores.
This bold choice has prompted considerable discussion about the wisdom of this plan, but I think commentators are barking upward along the wrong arboreal highway.
Instead of talking about how crazy this is, Floridians ought to be asking if it is crazy enough.
After all, other competitors in Education's Wacky Races have come up with innovations like sticking people in the classroom without actual teaching degrees or college degrees. If Fresen wants to make sure that his state has Really Awesome Teachers as evidenced by Really Random Metrics, he can do better.
Let's start with the obvious-- Florida's already using a Big Standardized Test to determine whether eight year olds are on the path to college or not. Let's just piggy-back on that-- if you were a proficient Third Grader, you get a bonus when you become a teacher. If we want something more reliable, we could give a bonus based on your high school GPA. Since Florida really loves its standardized tests, maybe we could use an eye test, or the driver's test.
Or hey-- maybe you were a boy scout. We could give you a $500 bonus for every merit badge you earned. Or if you were a girl scout, a bonus for every box of cookies you sold ($400 for every box of Trefoil, but only $75 for each box of Thin Mints. My dog could sell Thin Mints). For country kids, we can give a bonus for every 4-H blue ribbon won.
Perhaps Florida can reach back further. A bonus for how soon you were walking. A $1000 bonus for every month before your second birthday that you were potty trained.
Or dig deeper. A bonus if your mother birthed you naturally rather than by C-section. How about a bonus based on your apgar score? Perhaps a bonus for speedy fetal development.
In fact, let's get down to it-- offer Florida teachers a bonus based on their parents' SAT or ACT scores. Or on how well trained their dogs are. Or the feng shui in their homes. Or their astrological sign. Or flip a coin. Or just come right out and say, "Hey, TFA temps-- we'll give you a big bunch of money to come here because it will still be cheaper in the long run to hire folks who won't stick around long enough to earn raises or require pensions."
Come on, Florida. If you're going to bring the crazy, really bring it.