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.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Going Back to Tally Part II: Encouraging the Commission to End the Election of School Superintendents

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has finalized the list of 103 items for consideration, for addition to the 2018 ballot.  All of these items will not make the ballot.  Several are similar.  Any that make it to the ballot require 60% voter approval for successful passage and subsequent addition to the Florida constitution.

#33 on the list is proposed amendment to make school superintendents appointed, rather than elected.

Currently, 99.4% of the 15,500 or so public school districts in the United States have moved to this model--with very good reason.

I've documented my tremendous support for appointed superintendents based upon many logical reasons--many of which I have delineated here on this blog.   To summarize the most important reason is simple.  The position of Superintendent -when elected-- undermines the elected board's ability to properly govern, allows for any 18 year old resident of a county to run for and win such a position, and injects too much politics into the job.  This is why the vast majority of the rest of the world has moved away from electing the school superintendent, and this is why Florida must do the same!

As a ten year school board member in a district that elects its chief operating officer for schools and its board of directors--I saw first hand how dysfunctional and dangerous this arrangement can be.

In my experience:

--legitimate information that I had a right to see and requested was kept from me and withheld from my view and analysis by a deliberate act of the elected superintendent of schools that I worked with--he did not want me to know how badly the weak teacher evaluation tool was pencil whipped by several schools and school principals--he didn't want a headline!

--Important information that was known to the elected superintendent and his senior staff about some nefarious conduct occurring at a district charter school (including cheating on standardized tests and grade inflation to fraudulently earn a  higher school grade and state bonus money) was deliberately withheld from the board for over a year according to senior staff that reported this to me subsequent to a whistle-blower revelation. (superintendent did not want a messy headline in the lead up to his re-election announcement)

--All 5 board members disagreed, unanimously, with the initiative to convert School Deans to 2nd Asst. Principals (to handle paperwork instead of discipline) at our two largest Middle Schools.  Superintendent did this conversion anyway---over our objections.  He said we didn't understand why this was necessary and had to happen

--On multiple occasions, I submitted items to be added to a school board agenda--and the superintendent deliberately did not add these items to the agenda for discussion/consideration by the board.  Often, he did not want a headline or the board to discuss something for which he already had a firm position.

There are many other--too numerous to list--reasons why the elected school superintendent model is a relic of the past that must be changed.  I will testify about this on Monday;  I'll testify about why I feel it is essential that this item be one that is put on the ballot for statewide consideration so that Florida can move its public education system 100% into the 21st century, along with the rest of the nation.

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