About two years ago, state Rep. Erik Fresen picked up Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World to read on the plane.
The Miami Republican had no inkling at the time that the book, an investigation into student performance, would end up driving a controversial $44 million line item in Florida’s 2015-16 budget.
But as he plowed through it, Fresen found a common denominator among nations with top academic performance: well-paid teachers with high aptitudes. So he proposed Florida’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarships, worth as much as $10,000 each.
To qualify, a teacher must receive a “highly effective” evaluation rating and have scored at or above the 80th percentile on the SAT or ACT they took in high school. For new teachers, just the test score would count.