Friday, October 6, 2017

St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign - The Baker Blueprint for Schools and Education

During  Rick Baker’s prior terms, the number of A elementary schools increased from zero to 16 out of 27, and our number of A and B schools increased by 260%. 

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

This is the third of an eight-part series detailing the Rick Baker Plan for St. Petersburg

For more than eight years as Mayor, Rick Baker worked to transform St. Petersburg into a modern, prosperous, safe, neighborhood- friendly and seamless city. From jobs and economic empowerment, to schools, neighborhoods, the arts, our environment, and public safety, this “blueprint” will guide Rick Baker’s efforts to restore competence, commitment and honesty to City Hall.

Schools and Education

I am passionate about access to quality education. To that end, I believe in these two mathematical formulas: (1) “A” schools = future opportunity; and (2) failing schools = limited hope. Period. We want to bring more and better-paying jobs to our city, but it is equally important that our citizens – especially our young people – have the skills needed to obtain and hold these jobs.

  The following are my year one priorities:
  • APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM: Work with the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Tampa Bay Builders (TBB) to expand their current Apprenticeship Program (currently serving over 500 apprentices in Tampa) to St. Pete as a “Mayor’s Apprenticeship” branded program. This groundbreaking initiative provides paid jobs for high school graduates/GEDs in the building trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.) along with scholarships and training for certification. Look for similar opportunities with other trades as well (auto repair, culinary, etc.).
  • SCHOLARSHIPS: Double the number of Mayor’s Doorways Scholarships (now called “Take Stock in Children”) from the 1000 we previously funded during my term with privately-raised dollars. These scholarships are lifesavers, and provide an incredible incentive for children in the free and reduced lunch program to graduate from high school and go on to college or trade school. This was one of our most impactful achievements during my time as mayor.
  • SCHOOL SAFETY: Work with our schools to focus on classroom safety and discipline to enable a healthy and fear-free learning environment.
  • TOP APPLE: We are going to establish the Top Apple program to provide principals and assistant principals with privately-funded incentives when a school achieves success. We did it before but it was dropped by our current mayor; now we are going to do it even better!
  • TEACHER A-PLUS LOANS: Using state housing funds, re-establish a zero-interest housing loan program for teachers who work at a public school in the city and want to live in the city. This gives teachers more time to focus on what they do best: teach.
  • BUSINESS PARTNER PROGRAM: Reinvigorate the business partner program in our public schools (we privately recruited 100 businesses) and expand on the partnerships that provide tutors, strategic help, volunteers and badly needed resources to our public schools. These business are great assets and they want to be part of the solution – we need to call them off the bench!
  • CLOSING THE GAP: Become a full partner with Pinellas County Schools to implement the “Close the Gap” program to turn around those schools in St. Pete that are currently struggling.
  • BUILD UPON PROVEN SUCCESS: During our prior terms the number of A elementary schools increased from zero to 16 out of 27, and our number of A and B schools increased by 260%. This achievement, accomplished as a team with parents, students, teachers and the public school administration, stands in stark contrast to the widely-publicized “Failure Factories” status under Rick Kriseman’s administration. We can and will do better! 
The “blueprint” by design is a living document that will evolve with further input from you, the people of St Petersburg, to enhance the quality of life for everyone living here. - Rick Baker
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Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 
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