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.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Going Back to Tally Part III: Important Initiatives Move Forward!
I took a day off of work yesterday in order to do something important: I went to Tallahassee to testify about some important statewide issues that are going through the process to be placed on the ballot in 2018 as Constitutional Amendments. Listen to the interview I gave to AM1620 on this topic here.
As I discussed here and here--going to Tallahassee is something I have done frequently over the years--beginning way, way back in 1985 when I was still in High School! And because important proposals were to be voted on yesterday in the Education Sub-Committee of the CRC---- yes, I wanted to be there to speak.
Four main issues were discussed: Class Size, Appointed vs Elected Superintendents, School Board Term Limits, and ending School Board Salaries.
I hold strong opinions on all of these issues.
---I support easing the class size mandate (or doing away with it altogether if feasible) to the extent we are able to do so because I have been unable to see data that points to any measurable increase in student achievement due exclusively to smaller class sizes. Meanwhile, having this cap exacerbates our teacher shortage, limits our ability to increase teacher pay, and creates a situation where funding required to meet the law is not fully provided (unfunded mandate)--incentivizing some large districts to intentionally violate the cap with no significant penalties assessed (which has happened). In the words of one panelist at yesterday's meeting "I would rather have a large class size with one amazingly talented teacher than a small class size with a marginal teacher" I agree.
--I do not support eliminating school board salaries--I lived that job and those positions should be paid in my opinion. (this measure did not pass out of committee)
-- I strongly support the amendment proposal to make all superintendents of schools, statewide, appointed rather than elected. This arcane, anachronistic throwback model of school district governance and operation is well past due for a change. Of the nation's 15,500 or so public school districts------99.4% have figured this out and have moved to the correct structure: Elect members of the board of education, and allow the board to hire the most qualified, highly-skilled and educated superintendent they can get from a nationwide pool. (note: this proposal passed favorably out of the meeting by a 6-2 vote, with Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart voting in support of this amendment proposal.) We also learned yesterday that the bottom 10 districts if Florida, in terms of performance, have elected rather than appointed superintendents of schools. Time for a change, time for us to enter the 21st century on this issue. As Bruce Buffer would scream----It's time.
--I support term limits for elected school board members--did not speak to the proposal but waived in support. (this proposal passed unanimously)
Watch the videos of the entire proceeding on the Florida Channel here and here.