Weekly NewsBrief 11/18-11/24

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DeSantis’ proposed teacher bonus program pays more to those in struggling schools – By Colleen Wright and Jeffery Solochek, The Miami Herald

Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced a new teacher and principal bonus program that would pay public school teachers more based on their school’s improvement.

The proposal, announced alongside Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran at Vero Beach High School, would replace the controversial and long-beleaguered Best and Brightest program that DeSantis had deemed “confusing.” That program based teacher bonuses on student performance on standardized tests and the teacher’s own high SAT scores from when they were students.

The $300 million plan comes in addition to DeSantis’ $600 million proposal to increase the minimum salary for classroom teachers to $47,500. The governor’s latest pitch won praise from others in the “reform” universe who have backed most aspects of Florida’s testing-based accountability efforts.

“We fully support increasing teacher pay,” said Patricia Levesque of ExcelinEd, the education foundation led by former Gov. Jeb Bush. “Rewarding teachers and principals who successfully collaborate to create a rich learning environment ensures that student success is, appropriately, at the center of any performance-based plan.”


State Launches New Jersey STEM Strategic Advisory Board – from New Jersey Business

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the creation of the New Jersey STEM Strategic Advisory Board that was developed by the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN).

This inaugural Board was launched by the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network, an initiative of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, and will provide leadership and expertise for a statewide STEM (“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math”) vision in education and workforce. It also plans to fund innovative STEM programs with data-driven results. The Board includes business and philanthropic leaders and will seek to continue to grow over the course of the year.

“Through collective impact, this Board will improve ROI by uniting business and philanthropic leaders to streamline charitable investments and breakdown silos for success in STEM education and workforce development programming,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

The inaugural New Jersey Strategic Advisory Board Members include representatives from: Bristol- Myers Squibb, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, Ørsted, Overdeck Family Foundation, PSEG Foundation, and Siemens.


Utah will end 2 popular merit scholarships to shift millions to students who can’t afford college – By Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune

Two popular state-funded scholarships for high-achieving students will be phased out to free up millions of dollars more for students who can’t afford college, Utah’s higher education leaders have decided.

The Regents Scholarship started in 2011 and had $16 million to designate for students who performed well in a series of math, science and English classes. The New Century Scholarship used $2 million to cover college tuition for students who graduated from high school with an associate degree.

Both will end with the high school graduating class of 2021. Resources will shift to the Access Utah Promise Scholarship, the first needs-based scholarship awarded by the state, which was approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

The move will redistribute the state’s pot of roughly $20 million designated for all scholarships so that 70%, or $14 million, goes to those with financial needs. Previously, $2 million did.


Education voucher rules cruise through Tennessee board, on track for 2020 program launch – By Marta W. Aldrich, Chalkbeat

Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account program cleared a critical hurdle on Friday with the approval of a gamut of rules governing everything from how families can apply to how they can use taxpayer funds to pay for private education services.

The rules sailed through the state Board of Education with little discussion following preliminary approval by members in September. The 15-page document now heads to the joint legislative committee that reviews all operations for Tennessee state government.

The vote keeps the program on track to launch in the fall of 2020, a year earlier than required under a new state law. Lee ordered the accelerated timeline this summer. The reason, he said, was to provide more education choices as soon as possible for students in low-performing schools in Memphis and Nashville, the two cities targeted by the law.

The Republican governor told reporters last week that he was optimistic about a 2020 rollout but added: “We won’t compromise quality if it’s not ready for high-quality delivery.”


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