Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A teachable moment for Grego

Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego has done a lot of things right in nearly two years on the job, but he still has a steep learning curve about inclusiveness, openness and public relations. His defensiveness about his decision to replace the principal and trigger a significant turnover of teachers at Dunedin Elementary School is the latest example of acting abruptly and then responding curtly when asked to explain. Grego may have made the right decision, but his impatience and lack of communication skills threaten to undermine his progressive approaches with the teachers, parents and community leaders he must enlist to be successful.

Grego's frustration with explaining his actions came through as a Tampa Bay Times reporter questioned whether the district jumped the gun earlier this year when it named Dunedin Elementary one of nine new "turnaround schools." The state-sanctioned process is aimed at jump-starting improvements in low-performing schools, usually with significant staffing changes.

Dunedin Elementary had lost much of its luster in the nine years principal Kathleen Brickley had been on the job, slowly falling all the way from an A grade to an F last year. But the school's student population also dramatically changed to include many more low-income students and nonnative English speakers. In May, Grego demoted Brickley to assistant principal at a different school, and ultimately 17 teachers at the school were not selected to return by the new principal — angering many supporters in the community.

Then last week came the state's release of school grades for 2013-14. Dunedin Elementary's jump to a C was seen as vindication to Brickley's supporters, who contend she was doing everything she needed to be doing to keep her post, including engaging the community, students and staff.

Grego told Times reporter Cara Fitzpatrick this week that his decision was based more on the school's overall trajectory and that he had higher expectations. He said he hoped Brickley would become a principal again. But as Fitzpatrick pressed for more explanation, he offered an angry retort: "The day that I have to justify every blasted move in our district. … You can take over if you like."

Grego has been in public education long enough to know that a major part of his job requires being accountable to the public, including answering inquiries about controversial decisions. He oversees a public school district, not a private corporation.

The superintendent made a "misstep" with his comment this week, said the School Board's longest-serving member, Linda Lerner. It's one Grego should learn from.

Comments
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18