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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Senator Don Gaetz Receives the FCSBM Fighting for Kids Award: Reasonable Accountability

Left to Right Judge Gary Bergosh, Senate President (2012-2014) Don Gaetz, FCSBM Immediate Past President Jeff Bergosh, FCSBM CEO Shawn Frost, and Escambia County School Board District 1 Candidate Kevin Adams 

Senator Don Gaetz was honored tonight in Pensacola by the conservative, non-partisan Florida Coalition of School Board Members.

His work in the Senate for the last 10 years has has been legendary, and his record of support for public education and education reform has been rock-solid.  The 2016 session brought several profound education related bills, and many were passed with the key leadership and effort of Senator Gaetz.


"For his bold and vigorous support of rigorous alternative assessments, Senator Don Gaetz has been awarded the Fighting for Kids Award:  Core Value- Reasonable Accountability.  SB 1360, Which Senator Gaetz sponsored, would have allowed districts to choose either the Florida Standards Assessment or select from a menu of nationally recognized, rigorous alternative assessments in its place.  We salute Senator Gaetz for beginning the conversation about needed reforms to preserve Florida's groundbreaking accountability system.  Congratulations on your many legislative successes this session, especially those engrossed HB7029.  Thank you for treating us as partners and for living by the FCSBM motto of being Relentlessly Dedicated to Student Success"

President Gaetz took time to participate in a subsequent round table discussion with a small group of local education stakeholders.  The discussions were very enlightening, and he took time to discuss in detail his take on the most important education-related legislation that passed in 2016, while also describing the reasons why SB 1360 could not get through the House in 2016.  Gaetz expressed optimism about next session and the leadership that will be in place in 2017.

One of the lighter moments of the evening came when Gaetz spoke of his time on the Okaloosa County School Board, describing the fact that he was often on the bottom of 4-1 and 3-2 votes.  "I'm still very close friends with the school board members with which I served-even though we didn't always see things eye to eye" Gaetz pointed out.

The group thanked Senator Gaetz for his service and for all he has done for education in the state of Florida.  When asked about what he plans to do now that his time in public service is coming to a close, Gaetz said "It's been quite awhile since my Wife and I had a vacation, so we will be taking one after this election ends--we have someone close to us that is running quite a race right now as I'm sure you all are aware."

Read more about the Florida Coalition of School Board Members here,  and read about all of the other 2016 Legislative Award recipients here

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Get to Know Jeff Bergosh--Check out District 1 County Commissioner Candidate's Media, Radio Interviews, and Debate Footage

Listen to the Jeff Bergosh interview on WCOA's "Good Morning Pensacola" by Don Parker, Jim Sanborn, and Bryan Newkirk.  from

Listen to part 1 here
Listen to part 2 here

Listen to the Jeff Bergosh interview on  1330 WEBY with Mike Mashburn

Listen to part 1 here
Listen to part 2 here

Listen to the brief  Jeff Bergosh Interview with Andrew McKay on AM1620 from August 4th


Watch the District 1 County Commissioner's Debate from 8-4-2016  at WSRE's Rally 2016 site,
here  (Scroll to the bottom video on this page, the Escambia County Elections video, and the first 20 minutes is the County Commissioner's forum)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Ugly Truth about Low Performing Schools....

Here is the ugly truth about low performing schools in parts of Escambia County….

We have a community problem and this is dragging down the performance of our local public schools.

I will say it again.  We have a community problem that is dragging down the performance of our local public schools.

Everybody knows it, nobody discusses it in depth, and we do not have the economic resources to extinguish this fire completely. We use half-measures and extreme political correctness to dance around touchy subjects.  This approach is getting us nowhere.

Think about this---What if someone made this comment to you straight-faced: “Doctors and Hospitals in Pensacola must be terrible, as we have the highest levels of obesity, smoking, early mortality, and disability claimants of just about any community in Florida. We need to fix these deficient Hospitals in Pensacola because Doctors and Hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cambridge, Massachusetts are so much better!  Minneapolis and Cambridge have the healthiest populations in the country, year over year, so this illustrates the fact their Hospitals and Doctors are much more professional and better trained than our Doctors here!  Our doctors need to be more professional like those doctors up north so our community will be healthier!”

What about this one:

“These Cops around here are terrible!  Look at how high the crime rate is here compared to Beverly Hills.  I wish these cops around here had the same skill, training and professionalism as those cops in Beverly Hills, so we could have a peaceful, safe, low-crime community like Beverly Hills!”

Ridiculous, right?

Of course it is.

And it is just as ridiculous to hear rubes and simpletons claim we in Escambia County public education are abysmal failures, because we’re not as high-performing as Santa Rosa County or St. Johns County, or some other high performing district.

Judging all teachers and an entire school system by the outcomes and outputs of small dysfunctional populations they serve is no more ridiculous than the two previous examples about cops and doctors.  We need students and parents to buy-in!  Education requires participation.

Here are the real problems….

We have entire segments of the population that live in absolute, utter dysfunction.  In many areas it becomes multi-generational, the new normal.  We have poverty that is extreme-but that in and of itself is not the driver of the problems.  Poverty exacerbates the dysfunction.  We have people moving every six weeks to out-run landlords, gaming the entitlement system, having children out of wedlock to increase their welfare benefit checks, refusing to work, “shopping” with their EBT cards for “friends” taking $.50 cents on the dollar to buy liquor, cigarettes, or drugs,  Selling drugs for money, selling themselves for money, and mistreating their own children.  Crime rates soar in these communities, and entire neighborhoods fall into blight.  We have children being raised by relatives because BOTH parents are incarcerated; we had 6,000 child abuse reports last year in Escambia County, placing us in the top 5% of complaints state-wide.  We have children being raised in homes where violence is commonplace, caregivers are having intercourse in front of children, doing drugs in

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who Will Lead the School Board's Prayer at Tuesday's Meeting?

We have discussed the School Board's Invocation protocols many times in School Board meetings.  In light of the recent events at the City Council, I asked my counterpart, District 4 Board Member Patty Hightower, if she would be bringing this same individual this Tuesday for the pre-meeting prayer.  I strongly doubt that any of the other board members would bring him as their guest.  I certainly won't invite him, due to the way he has disrespected two of my previous guests that I have brought to bring the board a pre-meeting prayer.  Why would I ask Patty Hightower this?  Why wouldn't I...after all, she has invited this same person to bring the invocation before, and this person declined, he blew off her invitation. Thankfully.

But Hightower wouldn't answer the question, and of course she is under no obligation to do so.

But the way the exchange at the workshop went, who knows what will happen, who knows who she will bring?  I thought it peculiar and odd that she wouldn't answer the question.  Guess we will see Tuesday night......Hopefully it will be her doing her own version of an invocation, although according to the attorney this is a problem under the law.  Hopefully it will be a non-issue, just another Dr. Seuss reading, a story about geese and the reason they fly in a "V",  a children's poem, maybe even a moment of silence, or gee, maybe a Christian prayer?...hopefully, I really hope it doesn't turn out to be someone in a ridiculous costume like this.......

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Parental Exit Interview for an Escambia County School District High School

The School Board Members, the Superintendent, and the Principals of our district's High Schools all received a letter from a concerned parent last night.  The letter is full of illustrations of dysfunction, but also this letter is positive in that examples of how to fix this dysfunction are offered as well.  This is almost like a parental "exit interview."  It is an interesting read, and will no doubt spark conversations around the district which hopefully will lead to positive changes that will benefit students and parents.  I look forward to discussing the issues in this letter with my counterparts on the school board.

1 July 2016

To:       Escambia School District School Board Members
            Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent
I am writing to you as a “beyond mom” as I no longer have school-aged children. I am writing because I want to share my experiences with you because YOU are my elected officials.  YOU are supposed to be looking out for the families that live in your district.  I want YOU to make the Escambia School District better because I know it can be better. We have some great kids in this area.

My experience with XXXXXXXXXXXXX High School and Escambia School District encompasses 7 years, 4 students (with many classmates/friends), 3 principals, 5 assistant principals, and more teachers than you can imagine. Some of my experiences have been good, and a few have been great. Many have been below average, and unfortunately, some have been absolutely awful. Like most “letters”, I am going to focus on the awful because you need to know. You need to make it better. No child, no parent, no one should have to experience “awful” when it comes to something as important as education.

Regardless of where you go in the community – the grocery, the hair stylist, or the doctor’s office – somebody has a crazy XXXXXXXXXXXXX story and it’s not about unruly children. The stories are most often about how they can’t get in touch with teachers, how the school administrators do not return calls, and how their child isn’t getting the help they need. The stories are about how the parents feel disrespected and their words insignificant. While you constantly talk about the benefits of parent involvement, your actions tell a completely different story. And, this story is just sad.