FORT MYERS - Florida teachers could be getting some help paying for classroom supplies.
Speaking to hundreds of business and education leaders, Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his "College and Career First" education plan Thursday at an education summit in Fort Myers.
"Everything we do in education," said Scott, "must be focused on helping students succeed in college or career."
To help students succeed, Scott laid out his three goal plan, which included ideas he got from a statewide listening tour.
Among the goals: Ensuring a smooth transition to Common Core Standards, which are used by 46 states. Part of Common Core is the PARCC test which will replace the FCAT.
The new testing style will require students to explain how they came up with an answer. The idea is to foster learning, according to Scott, instead of teaching to the test.
Carol Bucher, a teacher at Lexington Middle School, is happy to see the FCAT go and praised the governor's ideas.
"When giving a test that's just on a sixth grade level," said Bucher, "and these kids are reading on a fourth grade level, it's very, very difficult."
Another one of the governor's goals is to give every teacher a debit card to pay for classroom supplies. Last year, Fox 4 interviewed a teacher who says she spent hundreds of dollars on classroom supplies.
"I'm gonna do whatever I need to do to help my kids learn," the teacher said. "So if that means spending my own pocket money that's what I have to do."
Without offering specifics, the governor says the debit cards would be paid for with state, district and private sector funds.
"It's not fair to our teachers," said Scott, "that they have to take money out of their own pocket."
But Mark Castellano, the president of the teachers' union, expressed concern.
"My concern would be if we're getting private donations," said Castellano, "are there any strings attached to it?"
The governor said he would not make any cuts in education, would set aside $2 million to invest in teacher training programs and said he would eliminate regulations.
"I think the overall intent is good," said Castellano. "I'm not sure that there's a whole lot of meat to it yet. It'll be interesting to see how some of those ideas flesh out."
The Florida Democratic Party released a statement criticizing the governor.
"While we hope that Scott's plan — introduced just 12 days before the election — is sincere," said FDP Executive Director Scott Arceneaux, "it does not erase the Republican's long record of hurting our parents, teachers and students."