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 30, 2016

Satanic Temple wants to Do Our Pre-Meeting Prayer

Here is the email, below,  that I received yesterday.  (It is not my turn in the rotation to bring the guest speaker for the pre-meeting prayer, it will not be my turn for three months. It will be up to Patty Hightower (July) or Bill Slayton (August) to consider this request.  I already have the invocation planned for my slot in September, and my choice in September will be to have a  Christian prayer.)

This is not our first demand from this individual to bring a prayer......If he is invited to bring a "satanic" invocation, (as apparently he will be doing at an upcoming Pensacola City Council Meeting) I will not stay in the room for it, I will walk out until he is through.  I won't, personally,  indulge this in what will be among my last meetings as a sitting School Board Member in Escambia County Florida..... via 

rs ago)
to GeraldLindamekim.sanbornDonnaricknewsnews
Esteemed School Board Members, 
For those of you still choosing invocation prayer-givers at your meetings, I once again request the opportunity to participate on behalf of The Satanic Temple of West Florida.  For over two years now, I have bee asking.

As you know, there can be no discrimination or censorship in the choosing of these invocations - especially considering you have no written policy regarding this practice.  You each choose who prays, but that does not mean you may exercise censorship.  If you give a forum to one religion at school board meetings, you must give that same opportunity to anyone who asks.  This is not only the conclusion of the Supreme Court (under the Galloway decision, which you cite as justification for school-board led prayer), it is the definition of religious freedom.  

As school board members, you are sworn to uphold that Constitution and I expect you do so or to stop praying.  The establishment clause of the Constitution compels you not to establish any religion as preferable to others.  However, to my knowledge, you have NEVER allowed a prayer from anyone except a Christian or Jew.  In fact, you have no legislative protection for prayer anyway.  So you are doubly derelict.

I would also remind you that your own student handbook policy regarding prayer says that no agent of the school system may lead or otherwise encourage prayer where students are present.  That would apply to your meetings as well.  A moment of silence, however, is allowed - even prescribed in that handbook.

Finally - as avowed Christians - I would remind you of Matthew 6:5-6, in which Jesus prohibits public displays of prayer as the domain of hypocrites.  Remember also Luke 6:31 - do unto others as you would have done to you.

Please respond to my request in writing.  At the very least, I would expect a yes or no and your reasoning for answering so.  

Best Regards,

Davidas, founding member of The Satanic Temple West Florida

Monday, June 13, 2016

Here is an Idea That Could Make a Real Difference

A little less than one-third of all prepared food goes to waste in America at the retail and consumer level.  This is a statistic that is widely known and it is hard to believe.  We are a rich nation, yet many do not have enough to eat.   I see people daily on street corners and intersections in Pensacola panhandling because they don’t have money for food.

How can this be?

At home I am relentless about minimizing food waste—after all, I pay for the food and food is expensive.  “Eat all you want, but eat what you take, and do not take more than you can eat” is my philosophy.

When eating out, I am astonished by what I witness in terms of food being wasted.
I observed this same phenomenon when I spent many years in the restaurant business, eventually owning my own restaurant in San Diego.

I see it in our schools, and lately I have heard horror stories about the wasted food in our school district.

 I am leaving the school board in a few months; I am running for a different elected office.  So, even though I want to hear about and discuss community issues (drainage, unsafe intersections, public safety, quality of life initiatives, lighted roadways, etc. etc.) as I’ve been going door to door visiting more than seven thousand homes-- the issue of food waste in schools has once again hit my radar screen from teachers, students, and cafeteria workers of the Escambia County School District. 

As I have been going door to door, many school employees tell me food waste is a huge concern.
One cafeteria worker that lives in Beulah recently told me she was sickened by the waste.  “I see these children daily throwing away unopened, untouched milk, string cheeses, apples and bananas.  Many of them do not have time to eat, and you would not believe how many untouched pop tarts go right into the trash” she stated.

Several teachers I have met told me they simply wish students could save unopened food items and have them for snacks later in the day in the classrooms.  “They won’t let us do that, they won’t let the

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

But What Does Today's Document Dump from the Federal DOE on Absenteeism, Access to Counselors, and Disciple--- Mean?

The Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education has released a large compilation of data today, data that was collected from more than 16,000 public school districts nationwide for the 2013-2014 school year.

The first look report can be read here.

Initial articles about this data are all negative, like this piece of tripe from the Washington Post.  And this garbage from the LA Times

To read these articles apart from perusing the report independently might lead a reader to believe there are no successes whatsoever for the massive yearly expenditures we are making in public education as a nation.

The report itself sheds some light on some interesting, albeit rarely discussed topics, such as the following:

--Asian students represent nearly 5% of the schools' populations, but only 1% of suspensions.

--Latino and Asian Boys and Girls, as well as Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, are NOT disproportionately expelled from schools.

--English Language Learners are NOT disproportionately expelled from schools.

--White Boys make up 26% of schools' populations, but 35% of the expulsions without continuing educational services.

--American public school students reached an all-time high percentage of on-time graduations in

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

While I was Mentoring, They Were Doing What??

At a recent statewide virtual townhall meeting with an influential Tallahassee lawmaker, the subject of individual school board member autonomy was briefly discussed.

The lawmaker that was our special guest was somewhat unusual in that he had served as a school board member prior to his service in the state legislature.

"One of the new rights that was put into legislation this year was something that initially I did not feel was necessary.  Now, however, I know and understand why it is necessary and important." Said this legislator.

The new language in statutes beginning July 1 allows for and authorizes individual school board members while acting in their official capacities, to go to any school in their district, any time, to independently observe the operation of the school and walk the grounds.

In my ten years on the school board, I must admit this was never an issue.  I have gone to individual schools often and I have always conducted myself as if I was a "guest" on the campus---signing in and acting in a professional manner.

I've mentored in multiple schools and I have always come to these schools with that as the purpose---not observing the schools and/or the operation of the schools.

But yesterday I received an email that concerns me, and frankly reinforces what I believe is a need for school board members to have the right to come to any school, any time.

As a mentor at one of our Middle Schools this year, apparently while I was mentoring I was being watched by administration out of an apparent paranoid fear that I was actually there to "spy on" this school.   To say this is outlandish is an understatement.  Not only is it outlandish, it is also UTTERLY DISRESPECTFUL.  Along with a host of serious matters that transpired at this school this past year, according to this long email that I am still going through in an attempt to process exactly what I need to do with this information------ This is what I was told about me by a very credible and  now FORMER employee of this school:

 "September 2015 Jeff Bergosh came to mentor his student. XXX XXXXXXX called me in XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX office. They were watching him [Bergosh] on the camera. XXXXXXXXXX said he [Bergosh] was there for two hours. XXXXXXXX had XXXXXX XXXXXXXXX bring the sign in sheet. XXXXXXXXX asked me what day and time 

A Funny Graduation Mystery......

Last Friday J.M. Tate High School held their commencement ceremonies at the Pensacola Civic Center.  The ceremony was wonderful, and the salutatorian gave an amazing speech that was uplifting and extremely encouraging.  She also thanked her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all of the blessings in her life--which drew a thunderous ovation.

After the ceremony ended, several staff members were milling around in the green room and a discussion started regarding the picture on the program.  First it was about the flags on the picture, and then it moved to the subject of what the latin phrase in the logo means.

Somebody plugged the phrase into Google translate, and soon laughter could be heard around the table.  

"What does it mean, I asked--wanting to be let in on what was apparently so funny"

I was handed the phone when one person at the table stated, while fighting back laughter, "I can't say it out loud!"

Now I was really curious.

I looked at the screen and immediately understood why everyone was in hysterics. The screen read