Huffpost Education

Florida Teachers Will Have To Work Extra Hour Each Day While Compensation Remains Under Negotiation

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Some Florida teachers will be made to teach an extra hour each day, with their compensation for that additional hour still in flux, WPLG reports.

In March, the state Legislature passed a law requiring the 100 lowest-performing schools on the reading FCAT to provide an extra hour of reading instruction beyond the normal school day.

According to WPLG, the state earmarked $30 million to pay teachers for the additional hour. But Karen Aronowitz of United Teachers of Dade maintains this amount is not sufficient.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Palm Beach County -- the fifth-largest school district in Florida -- had anticipated some of its schools being named to the lowest-100 list, and had set aside about $5 million in anticipation of that fact.

But when school grades, based largely on FCAT scores, were released in July, 16 of Palm Beach County’s schools had made the list -- more than any other school district in Florida.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the district estimates the additional hour will end up costing $7-8 million, and it is unclear where the extra $2-3 million will come from.

Elsewhere in the state, Miami-Dade County and Broward County Schools combined to land 21 of their schools on the list. Of the $30 million the state allocated to fund the new law, Miami-Dade is set to receive $3 million. Negotiations are still underway to determine how to pay teachers for the new eight-hour school day.

The additional hour is cause for concern for teachers, some of whom did not know until late July that their school was going to have an extended day, the Palm Beach Post reports.

“This is another law that our legislature really doesn’t think through, doesn’t realize we have a bargaining agreement, doesn’t realize that people really have lives,” Lynn Cavall, executive director for the Classroom Teachers Association, told WPTV.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, students who scored a 5 -- the highest possible score on the reading FCAT -- can opt out of the extra hour if their parents choose. The longer school day will be mandatory for everyone else.

The new Florida law was pushed by Rep. state Sen. David Simmons, who for years has advocated for a longer school day, claiming other industrialized nations provide more instructional time for their students than the U.S. does, the Sentinel reports.

The FCAT has been embroiled in controversy for quite some time, as educators and lawmakers alike continue to debate the role standardized testing plays in student learning. This year, the state Board of Education lowered the requirements for a passing score after it was determined that 73 percent of Florida’s fourth graders would have failed the 2012 test under previous standards.

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