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, November 22, 2017

Going Back to Tally....Part I: Testifying

The Florida Capitol Building, Tallahassee Florida

The other day I was listening to talk radio and the intro to the 1987 LL Cool J rap song "Going back to Cali" was playing.  I remembered that song from a very good yet extremely depressing movie of that year, Less than Zero.

And then I thought about an upcoming trip I'm taking to Tallahassee---I'm not going back to Cali--I'm going back to Tally!  But I'm going to Tallahassee for a very important reason.

I've been there many times, the first time of significance was when I attended Florida Boy's State in 1985 and met then Governor Bob Graham and learned a lot about civics, politics, and elections.  That was a great experience.
I had the honor and privilege of attending Florida Boy's
State in the Summer of 1985

My next big trip to Tallahassee was not until 22 years later, in 2007, when as an elected school board member I was strongly supporting teacher Merit Pay and was present with Governor Charlie Crist and Senator Don Gaetz for the signing ceremony upon the passage of that legislation.

Merit Award Plan signing ceremony in 
Tallahassee, Florida
March, 2007.  Sen Gaetz, Gov. Crist, 

and Escambia School Board
Member Jeff Bergosh (background)
(footnote--only 9 of  67 counties [Escambia was one of the 9] ever successfully implemented that plan, the MAP, in year one.  by year 2, the unions killed it and statewide merit pay for teachers essentially ended in Florida until 2015 and the Best and Brightest Teacher Bonuses came to the forefront.  Don't worry though--Unions and status quo defenders are working in the courts to kill this now,  too.....)

While a school board member, I attended many meetings and lobbying sessions in Tallahassee, several of which were productive, many of which were not.  But along the way I met legislators and made connections.

In 2014 and 2015--when school choice was under fierce attack by liberals, Democrats, and status quo educrats--I made many trips to Tallahassee  (and other parts of the state as well).  Luckily for all the kids stuck in failing school attendance zones throughout the state--the suits seeking to end tax credit scholarships at that time were all eventually defeated.

But an important by-product of that attack on choice was the formation of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members and the passage of HB 7029 in 2016--which included language that I helped craft ending the monopoly on school board advocacy associations enjoyed comfortably for many years by the Florida School Boards Association.  I'm very proud of what we accomplished in Tallahassee, me and school board members and legislators from around the state working together to dismantle an unfair monopoly by allowing school board members choice in advocacy (or the ability not to fund their portion of "yearly dues" to an organization that ideologically was/is not supported by such individual school board members).  2015 was huge.

Fast Forward to the end of 2017 and I once again find myself going back to Tally.  This time, I am no longer a school board member but now a County Commissioner.

This time, the reason I'm going back to Tally is to advocate for some specific constitutional amendment proposals.

The constitution revision commission (a group assembled and convened only once every several decades in Florida) has finalized a list of 103 potential constitutional amendments for addition to the 2018 Ballot.  (A very brief yet very informative guide to the CRC is here.)  Several of these potential amendments  have my particular interest due to both my current job and to my past experience as an elected school board member.

So I'm going back to Tally to give my testimony about the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY that we push forward many of these proposals---in particular the one that will end the arcane, throwback practice of electing superintendents in the state of Florida.  This practice is such an anachronism and it is so damaging that it must end ----and if I can play a small part in pushing  this forward to the voters--- I'm ready willing and able to do so.  And I will.

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