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A dunce cap for this legislator

Published Oct. 2, 2005

Rep. Jerry Melvin is in the wrong business. Anyone who shoots his mouth off so shamelessly at parents and grade-schoolers ought to have his own shock-jock radio show.

Last month, Melvin blasted a Palm Harbor mother who implored lawmakers to ease school crowding. She made the mistake of orchestrating a letter-writing campaign through the Internet.

On Wednesday, the Fort Walton Beach Republican delivered another classless display. Standing on the House floor, he waved a stack of letters from students at Tampa's Benito Middle School. Instead of responding to the substance of the students' concerns about school overcrowding, he criticized the students' spelling and grammar. It would be interesting to put some of Melvin's unedited correspondence in the hands of a stern middle-school English teacher.

Melvin has made a fool of himself. As chairman of the Education Innovation Committee, he should welcome any input from Floridians that might improve the schools. He also should be smart enough to understand the correlation between crowded schools and poor academic achievement.

Melvin's repeated boorishness calls into question his commitment to public education. If Melvin persists in behaving more immaturely than the average middle-school student, House Speaker Daniel Webster should take away his chairmanship and give him a less visible assignment. Melvin already has brought more than enough embarrassment to the Legislature and his constituents.