Friday, July 20, 2018
Education

Hillsborough School Board gets a chance to teach tolerance

"I don't think our children need to be exposed to things that are not healthy and wholesome, especially political issues."

— A speaker at the Hillsborough County School Board opposing a Muslim leader who spoke at a high school.

"Christianity can be described in one word: Love."

— Another speaker who wants a Muslim group banned.

"Coexist? Oh please."

Yet another who protested.

And if those aren't enough did-I-really-hear-that moments in the tempest currently before the Hillsborough School Board, now we've come to this: People comparing Muslims to pedophiles and felons and expecting elected officials to agree.

How did we get here, exactly, to today's workshop on who can come into the classroom?

Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was invited by a teacher to speak to an advanced placement world history class at Steinbrenner High. (Students learn about religions like Buddhism and Christianity, too.)

Then, backlash. Four times, parents and activists complained and demanded guidelines for speakers — despite a lack of evidence that teachers and principals have shown bad judgment in this area.

Some want the School Board to ban CAIR. Others bashed Muslims in general. And more than one likened CAIR to sex offenders or racists. All of which gets especially confusing if you think high school is a good place to learn about unfamiliar things in the world, like Islam.

It's been said that when the economy is tough and the world is in turmoil, some people look for a place to focus anxiety and anger. This is daily bread for former-porn-addict-turned-crusader David Caton, whose organization is offering $1,000 to anyone reporting CAIR speakers at the school. I could not make that up.

Ditto activist Terry Kemple, who compared CAIR to a pro-pedophilia group. "If someone would be a member of (the North American Man/Boy Love Association), I wouldn't let them in a classroom," he said. "If someone were a member of KKK, I wouldn't let them in a classroom. It's no different." No different, he actually said.

Why give a guy like Kemple a platform? Because he is running for that same School Board and could win. Because he says he has his own policy for board members to adopt, and they just might.

Tempting as it is to blame home-grown hysteria, it's not just here. As the Times' Marlene Sokol reported, anti-Muslim sentiment is happening from Washington state, where parents protested Muslim leaders offering a show-and-tell on Ramadan, to Texas, where a principal transferred after parents complained about CAIR speakers who came because of bullying.

Is there room for debate on the history of CAIR? Sure, discussion is good. What's not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What's not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

At today's workshop, the board has a chance to say that education and the judgment of teachers and principals trump fear and those who exploit it. That would be a speech worth hearing.

Comments
In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

By the second week of August, public schools will be back in session across the Tampa Bay area. That may seem far off, but sleep experts say now is when parents need to start easing the kids (and themselves) into those early wakeup routines. The foll...
Published: 07/20/18
Hernando County leaders may help School Board pay for campus security

Hernando County leaders may help School Board pay for campus security

BROOKSVILLE — With an Oct. 1 deadline looming for the Hernando County School Board to find a way to pay for school security once its agreement with the County Commission expires, leaders from both governments will consider extending the partnership.B...
Published: 07/19/18
State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State education officials on Wednesday approved plans in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to improve struggling schools — but with some conditions.The Pinellas district will have to keep a close watch on Fairmount Park Elementary principal Kristy M...
Published: 07/18/18
Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Candidates for the Pinellas County School Board will appear Tuesday at the first of three forums sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation, St. Petersburg College, the Pinellas County Council PTA and the League of Women Voters. The event will be...
Published: 07/18/18
Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for the county’s instructional staff, has announced its recommendations for School Board candidates ahead of next month’s election.The group made its decisions via a private forum, where about fi...
Published: 07/18/18
Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Lori Romano, fired from the Hernando County superintendent post for "ineffective leadership" a month ago, has snagged a job in the neighboring Pasco County school district.She won’t be nearly as high up the administrative ladder in her new role.Subje...
Published: 07/17/18
Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

LAND O’ LAKES — Chris Stowe has a storied past as an explosives technician in the U.S. Marine Corps.The retired master gunnery sergeant has mementos of his service — a field knife mounted to the lid of an explosives box, for instance — hanging promin...
Published: 07/17/18
Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Three trustees for Pasco-Hernando State College have been reappointed to their posts by Gov. Rick Scott, and a new member joined the college’s Foundation Board of Directors.The reappointments to the Board of Trustees are Alvaro Hernandez, Lee Maggard...
Published: 07/17/18
Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER — With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers are receiving extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough...
Published: 07/17/18
Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Chicago schoolteacher Kimberly Bermudez has always been the chatty type.So when she was on a Southwest Airlines flight to Florida to visit her parents last week, and her seatmate asked her what she did for a living, she told him about her first-grade...
Published: 07/17/18