Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Rick Scott and students, school tours not always comfortable

Gov. Rick Scott arrived at a St. Petersburg high school on Friday morning wearing a round white pin which aimed to explain, at least in part, why he was there:

"I (Heart) Books."

This was Scott's fourth school visit in three days. The visits began at an Orlando middle school on Wednesday, where Scott announced that he would budget $480 million for teacher pay raises next year.

Over the next two days he passed through a Gainesville high school and a Tampa elementary before pinning his affections to his blazer at Dixie M. Hollins High School in St. Petersburg.

The schools tour came across to many as a political move to repair Scott's standing with teachers, who have criticized the governor's previous efforts to end tenure, institute merit pay and reduce the state's contribution to their pensions. But putting Scott, a sometimes stilted presence, in a room with understandably awkward adolescents doesn't always produce campaign-ad-ready material.

At Dixie Hollins, the governor was ushered into a computer lab, where high school students in Old Navy sweatshirts and college basketball jerseys chewed gum, played on their phones and wore headphones.

Also in attendance were several TV camera crews, to capture Florida's new education governor walking the walk.

"Good morning," he said to the teenagers. "So, what are you studying right now?"

Scattered voices volunteered, "Algebra."

"Is Algebra Nation helping?" Scott asked.

The students had only been using Algebra Nation, an online tool providing after-hours math help, for about a week and a half. So they didn't really answer the governor, and the room was mostly quiet. A teacher chimed in to cut the tension, calling out a student she was sure had used the program at home.

Scott then asked, "What grade are you in?" To which the students replied that they are freshmen.

One young man elaborated, "Keeping it real."

Straying from the theme of the week — teacher raises — Scott had come to Dixie Hollins to tout the launch of this Algebra Nation. Last spring, 52 percent of the state's ninth-graders failed the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam, losing out on course credit.

Algebra Nation supplies video tutorials, quizzes, and live help from teachers with virtual "office hours." It was created by the University of Florida, so Scott was wearing a blue and orange tie.

As Scott entered each classroom and posed his questions, the students furiously made eye contact with each other, smirking, because they were teenagers and something was happening.

When the students had been sufficiently questioned about Algebra Nation, they were encouraged to take photos with Scott. Many lined up at one teacher's urging, "When else are you going to meet the governor?"

In one class, a young woman asked her teacher how she would get a copy of her photo with Rick Scott. She had wanted to use her own camera, on her phone. But the governor's staffers had brought their own digital camera. They captured the picture on that, and the teacher promised her that the governor would email copies.

Contact Lisa Gartner at lgartner@tampabay.com.

For Rick Scott and students, school tours not always comfortable 01/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Nation

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  2. June 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series.
  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Philando Castile family reaches $3 million settlement in death

    Crime

    MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

    A handout dashboard camera image of Officer Jeronimo Yanez firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., July 6, 2016. [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension via The New York Times]
  5. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.