Kelli Stargel’s true colors: “I do not plan to be there” on April 24 when the School Board votes on the Stargel School Kill List

Take a look at this video I took of Sen. Kelli Stargel on Tuesday.

Here’s the context for it.

At our April 24th meeting, your School Board will address Stargel’s legislative mandate to choose a method for punishing and harming the people who attend and work at six Polk schools. These schools have been singled out because they are not Cs on the fraudulent school grading algorithm.

In many cases, Stargel and the state have actively sabotaged these schools using this test score equation — the so-called Value Added Model — to disrupt teaching staff.

For instance, Kathleen Middle is a point a way from a “C.” It would not be on this list if Stargel and Tallahassee had not used the fraudulent VAM equation in early 2017 to gut Kathleen’s teaching staff and replace it with multiple subs for half the year — against the principal’s wishes.

Using VAM, the state forced Bartow Middle this year to wipe out much of its math department and replace them with subs — against the principal’s wishes. This is a mess of the Florida Model’s making. And despite it, a lot of really good work continues to happen at those schools. I would send my son to either, just like I sent him to a different D-school last year, where he had a good experience.

Having done whatever she can to hurt the people of these schools, here are the choices, mandated without funding, Kelli Stargel is forcing on us via last year’s abusive House Bill 7069 law:

  1. Close the schools.
  2. Outsource them to charter operators that do not exist.
  3. Turn over millions in taxpayer money over time to useless consultants. Stargel’s big pay day for educrat consultants will mean less money for other schools and less money to address security, mental health, and humanity issues at those schools. The consultants will not be addressing any of that.

Stargel and state government do not respect the choices of parents at those schools. They have not asked parents at these schools if they want the neighborhood school they have chosen closed or outsourced.

I do respect those parental choices.

That’s why I reject all of the options on Stargel’s ultimatum. They are harmful to my community, kids, teachers, and staff — as is our malicious and incompetent state government. But Stargel and that same state government, by law, says I can’t reject them.

This impasse was on my mind Tuesday morning at the Lakeland Chamber’s embarrassingly treacly love fest for our legislators. So I asked Stargel — and other legislators — if they plan to attend the April 24 School Board meeting when we must address their mandate for self-harm. I asked if they plan to show some basic accountability toward their constituents. Colleen Burton and Ben Albritton were non-committal.

Here’s the core of my exchange with Stargel:

“I do not plan to be there,” Stargel said.

“You do not plan to attend, to stand by your own laws?” I asked.

“It’s not a matter of our own laws,” Stargel said. “I don’t plan to attend because that’s a school board issue and you guys are going to have to deal with that.”

Literally “a matter of our laws”

This is, of course, as transparently stupid as it is cowardly. If this school destruction choice is “not a matter of our laws,”  I guess we can cancel the meeting and the vote, right? We no longer need to waste time and money we could spend on kids to select our own method of execution.

No, this entire absurd episode is, quite literally, “a matter of our laws.”

And there you have it — the Kelli Stargel governing philosophy. She has no responsibility to you or me for any law she passes. This isn’t just about schools. She’s an enemy of the very notion that Tallahassee owes any accountability to the people in its communities. It boils down to this:

I’m very important. You little people in Polk are not. I don’t have to address you in anyway. I do whatever I want, far away from you. And you have to deal with it. I won’t even show up to explain why. Yay, public service. Worship me, Lakeland Chamber.

The fact that it’s news that I simply asked her about attending a meeting says all you need to know about her — and the deferential attitude toward state elected officials that harms this county every day.

That attitude allows her to get away with it. Elevated by political nepotism, she coasts on the meaningless “R” by her name, thinking it allows her to take Republicans completely for granted; she coasts on the lies on her mailers; and she coasts on her trust that no one will confront her.

The fake Kelli and the real Kelli

Here’s an object lesson in that. It’s a video I shot from the same Chamber event, maybe five minutes before I approached her about the April 24th meeting.

In talking about ESE, mental health, and behavioral issues, Stargel sounds almost reasonable. She talks about the importance of guidance counselors, without mentioning she’s turned them into test coordinators. She even says: “We’re putting a lot on our schools,” without apparent irony.

It’s all for show.

Faced with the tiniest shred of public accountability five minutes later, all that collaborative spirit nonsense went POOF.

It was: “It’s not a matter of our own laws. I don’t plan to attend because that’s a school board issue and you guys are going to have to deal with that.”

That’s the real Kelli. As is the Kelli who has deliberately sabotaged and hurt the people of public schools, without accountability, for her entire career. Indeed, the choice her laws force on us robs money from guidance counselors and all of that pretty stuff she talked about in that second video.

A legacy of harm and failure

Kelli Stargel has been the Polk delegation’s education “expert” for most of her career as a legislator. In that role, she has been an eager and reliable advocate for laws that hurt the kids, teachers, and parents of public schools.

What’s her legacy? What’s the Florida state government’s legacy?

  • $1,000 less per kid in funding — adjusted for inflation — than we had a decade ago. Fewer and fewer resources to support teachers with behavior.
  • A massive teacher shortage.
  • Endless, useless Common Core-based standardized testing. Every End of Course exam your kids take should be named the “Kelli Stargel EoC.”
  • Endless disruption and human misery caused by evaluating teachers with VAM, a practice discredited and abandoned years ago by states that aren’t backward.
  • The worst state-level education system in America, as revealed by its own stupid test score growth metrics. See the image below. Purple is bad. See this link for greater explanation. 

What’s her reaction to all of that? “It’s not a matter of our own laws. I don’t plan to attend because that’s a school board issue and you guys are going to have to deal with that.”

Of course Kelli wants to scapegoat her own community for her failures. What else is she going to do with the abysmal record that we’ve all allowed her to keep?

#showupKelli; because I know Bob Doyel will.

Enough. If you feel the same, call or email Kelli Stargel. You can call her local office at (863) 668-3028. You can email her at a button on this link. Tell her to show up April 24 for once. She’s going to ignore you, most likely.

But I know, from some experience, that she despises criticism; it eats at her and her people. It’s one reason why she ducks her constituents. So let’s make her willingness to harm her constituents an unpleasant experience for her until we end her destructive career.

And remember, there is an alternative to Kelli come November. Bob Doyel is a retired judge, a Vietnam vet, and man of good faith. And he’ll be partner to our schools. He’ll answer your questions. He won’t hide. Check him out here.


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