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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Parent leaders urge Gov. Rick Scott to reject education commissioner finalists

11

December

Nine parent leaders representing advocacy organizations across Florida sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott today urging him to reject all three of the finalists for the education commissioner job. The group appeals to the governor's recent attempts to build relationships with parents and other education stakeholders, saying this is a chance for him to show he is concerned and was listening.

"We are confident that you have had far too many conversations with the parents and teachers of Florida to ignore the fact that Tony Bennett, Charles Hokansan and Randy Dunn apparently endorse an extreme reform agenda that does not represent our vision of public education," the group wrote. "We will not be silent as our state Board of Education, who serves at your pleasure, considers candidates who are a comfortable fit for them, but a poor choice for the 2.74 million public school children who will bear the brunt of this decision. We strongly urge you to convince the Board of Education to reject these last-minute political applicants, who are not the product of a thoughtful search independent of ideology."

Among the signers of the letter: Eileen Segal, president of the Florida PTA, Melissa Erickson, the former president of the Hillsborough County Council PTA, and Don Kearns of Support Dade Schools.

The coalition also urges Scott not to reappoint two Board of Education members whose terms are up soon: Roberto Martinez and John Padget. Instead, they wrote, Scott should choose new board members from the advocates he has met during a listening tour around the state.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Governor Scott:

We represent a broad alliance of parents, taxpayers and voters who are disappointed that the three final candidates for Florida Commissioner of Education appear to be ardent supporters of reforms you no longer favor. You have acknowledged that deep funding cuts to Public Education cannot continue. You are concerned about the extreme role of standardized testing and you have criticized the State Board of Education for setting different achievement goals based on race. 

We are confident that you have had far too many conversations with the parents and teachers of Florida to ignore the fact that Tony Bennett, Charles Hokansan and Randy Dunn apparently endorse an extreme reform agenda that does not represent our vision of public education. 

We will not be silent as our state Board of Education, who serves at your pleasure, considers candidates who are a comfortable fit for them, but a poor choice for the 2.74 million public school children who will bear the brunt of this decision. 

We strongly urge you to convince the Board of Education to reject these last-minute political applicants, who are not the product of a thoughtful search independent of ideology. 

Finally, Governor Scott, you decide who sits on the Board of Education. The terms of Roberto Martinez and John Padget expire on December 31, 2012. You alone are empowered to change the direction of this board. 

We implore you to choose two new board members from the qualified people you met on your tour. Florida is rich with authentically engaged and uniformly respected citizens ready to focus only on what’s best for our children. 

This is your chance to back your sincere concerns about education reform with action. It’s your choice. As parents, taxpayers and voters, we believe you will choose us.

Respectfully, 

Eileen Segal, President, FL PTA

Kathleen Oropeza, Fund Education Now            

Mindy Gould, Legislative Chair, FL PTA          

Melissa Erickson, Alliance for Public Schools 

Rita Solnet, Parents Across America FL

Colleen Wood, 50th No More

Nancy Noonan, Marions United                      

Don Kearns, Support Dade Schools

Mark McGriff, Citizens for Strong Schools

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 4:49pm]

    

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