Thursday, July 16, 2020

Florida’s Most Dysfunctional Elected Body – School Boards

Tampa Bay, Fl  
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb
 PhD   Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.   
You may have watched a County Commission meeting, or a City Council meeting online or in person and come away thinking wow these people do not have a clue.
If you want to see the ultimate in political and practical dysfunction you have to check out your local school board.
Here is a list of the 74 districts in the state of Florida each County has its own individual school board.  List of Florida School Districts - Wikipedia
There are 74 districts in the state: one for each of the 67 counties, one each for the four research schools, one for the school for the deaf and blind, one for the virtual school, and one for the youth development center.
All Florida school board elections are non-partisan. In 43 school districts, school board members are elected by a district-wide vote of electors (at-large election). In 21 school districts, school board members are elected by a vote of the electors within their residence area (single member district election). In 4 school districts, some school board members are elected by a vote of the electors within their residence area, and others are elected by a district-wide vote (combination of single member district and at-large election).
So, who runs for the school board?
People who have fought with every principal in every school their child ever attended and think they have all the answers.
Retired teachers who think all their experience in 3rd grade education somehow qualifies them to be an instructive voice on the school board.
People who look at their Florida property tax bill as it goes up every year and get more and more incensed at the amount of money spent on public education.
Social reformers who think public education is too conservative.
Social reformers who think public education is too liberal.  
Social reformers who think public education Is too racist.
The list goes on and on and on, but the consistent theme is most people who run for the school board, at least for the first time, are one-trick ponies.
The recent debacle over whether to open schools in the face of the Corona pandemic has shown the total incompetence of local school boards.
Notice the news clips and newspaper articles reporting on your local school boards approach to masks, personal protective equipment, school buses, online learning, and pay special attention to some of the really stupid comments that these elected officials are making.
Notwithstanding the fact that Governor Ron DeSantis has totally bungled handling the whole-school opening issue his idea of passing this decision to local school boards shows a distinct lack understanding regarding how the school boards function.
Very few if any school board members in Florida are prepared to deal with decisions as significant as opening or closing schools in the face of a pandemic. When the governor tossed this ball to the school boards, he may have as well had simply thrown the ball out of the window.
As of the writing of this post, a number of districts have now pushed back school opening a whopping two or three weeks. Health care professionals are telling us we may not see a peak in new cases and positive cases until near the end of the year.
Why would we even consider opening up schools, which are not even mildly prepared to deal with children in an infectious disease environment let alone the fact that teachers with a few exceptions have no training or experience or desire to teach or baby sit in that environment?
Everybody is still to focus on getting people back to work and the school babysitting service cranked up with little or no regard to the massive public health crisis they are creating putting these kids in what by all measures of common sense is a hostile environment from a medical perspective.
What DeSantis should have learned by now if he never learns anything else is you can't abdicate your authority and pass it to a group of elected officials who have no conceptual grasp of the order, magnitude, importance or impact of the decisions they're being asked to make.
Florida can't afford to have a patchwork quilt of some counties with students in school some counties with some students in schools some counties with no students in schools and everybody online how will parents and teachers figure out what to do.
It's time to man up Governor Ron.
You need to take this ball back and make the decision that is in the best interest of the human beings in this state. Shut the schools down until next year and let's get this thing under control.
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