I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Incremental Progress Part I

Making progress on big issues while sitting as one member of a 5 member board is difficult. When one board member sees things, let's say, differently--this further complicates the effort for changing issues. Making progress on these issues when the board has an elected superintendent of schools and does not necessarily favor a policy or idea is next to impossible. So this past week has been exceptional.

 At last week's special workshop for discussing the rights and responsibilities handbook, some very important progress was made with respect to the addition of language that requires that a student's parents be called before a student is questioned at school for law enforcement, non-school discipline related matters, by Police. It's the sort of language I've been trying to get inserted into the book for three years over HEAVY opposition from the superintendent's staff, the county sheriff, and several members of the School Board.

 So at this meeting, knowing that time was a factor in getting the book advertised for adoption, I brought

some compromise language about police questioning that I found from a district in Michigan. Not my first choice of language, but hopefully something that could be agreed upon. I am quite pleased that this language I brought was modified slightly, and added into the R&R handbook for 2014-2015. I believe this language represents incremental progress over last years very minor improvement, and incremental progress, especially in our situation (elected board + elected superintendent) is good.

 Pressing for good ideas over time, I have found, can be effective:

 --Drug testing student athletes and conducting drug-dog sweeps at school took almost 4 years of heavy lobbying to get started in our district.

 --Safe harbor language took two and a half years, over HEAVY objection by the director of High Schools, to get incorporated into our handbook.

 --A band program at West Florida High School took four years and heavy pressure applied on two superintendents to get started. (A former director of Curriculum and Instruction, early on, told me "West Florida Tech will NEVER get their own band." Numerous band directors from other high schools wrote hate mail to me explaining that WFHS "did not deserve a band.") WFHS started their band in 2010.

 There are other ideas, other policies that deserve to be considered locally; we're not done with making incremental, intelligent forward progress--even if it takes years and years to do what's right.

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