There is a well-known but little-acknowledged fact that many Pinellas County schools are sick. Equally under-acknowledged is the recognition that our teachers are sick also.
Knowing that our schools are not performing at their best, Pinellas County classroom teachers are sick of being taken for granted by the Pinellas County School Board (PCSB). Veteran teachers are sick of not having their professional opinions listened to. We are sick of seeing the board make mistakes on matters relating to classroom structure and operations, and on teachers and student success.
Too often PCSB fails to listen to teachers about what works best in matters pertaining to educational practices, school operations and student discipline. Pinellas County school teachers are sick of being abused by an operating mindset among veteran board members (and district administrators) that exists on the notion that the teachers will do whatever they are told because there is nowhere else for them to go.
We are sick of having decisions made that affect our lives as well as the lives of our students by people who have not spent any meaningful time inside of a classroom for decades, people who visit schools for the photo opportunity and to check another box on their activity calendar.
People who, despite their visits, fail to engage with students in any meaningful way. Just more tired politician doing the rounds. This kind of abuse must stop! It is time for a change in the way we do things as a school district.
Why am I telling you this? The fact is, as the state politicians find new ways to attack and abuse public school teacher, they ultimately end up abusing our children too. They have done this by finding new ways to systematically drain funding away from public education.
They have introduced policies and enacted laws such as the notorious FCAT (now FSA) that have done more damage to our children than anything else in our history. They have systematically drained money away from public education and channeled those funds into for-profit charter and other private schools.
Many of these same state politicians are personally connected with the charter schools their policy changes provided funding for.
Locally and statewide, members of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association (PCTA) and the Florida Education Association (FEA) have been fighting for years against cuts in public education dollars, and the enactment of draconian policies. Too often it seems like we have been fighting these and other battles in the trenches of public education all by ourselves.
The Pinellas County School Board and the superintendent talk a good game, but too often they have failed to deliver on too many promises. For example, in order to absorb cuts in state funding, they often end up making bad decisions and cut various sundry programs in our schools.
Very often those cuts end up negatively affecting the students and schools in our district and in areas where they can least afford to have cuts applied to them. Clearly, this situation cannot go on.
Again, it is time for a change. Teachers and support professionals want a change. The community wants to see a change in how our schools are managed, and our children and students deserve a change for the better.
A very wise teacher made this remark to me a long time ago: “Be the change you expect to see.” Recognizing this need for change, the need to see major improvement in our school district, the following quotation (used by Barak Obama and various others over the years) sums up the way many of us are feeling in 2018. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
We simply cannot afford another four years of mediocre performance in our schools, photo-ops by the upper echelon of the district and negligible learning among the student population. After many conversations and consultations with various community members and fellow teachers, I made the decision to enter the race for the Pinellas County School Board, District 7 seat.
I did so not because I thought it would be easy. I made the decision to run for the District 7 school board seat because it is time for a change. Time for better services and better resources for our children and the schools they attend. Time to stop bringing in outside “experts” to fix our problems instead of utilizing the talents of the many home-grown experts we already have in our community.
It is time we did better by our children. The Primary Election is Aug. 28; let’s move out the old and put in the ones with the new ideas to bring about the change we wish to see.