Category: All Articles

We are the shoe: the strange referendum on what political business always said it wanted

There’s a very strange high level conversation playing out in my School Board election between me and some elements of what I call “political business.” It goes something like this: Political business: Education is super important infrastructure; and we need to change how the Polk County School Board has always done business. Why won’t somebody do that?! We’ve been begging…

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Transparency and trust matter more than ever in the COVID era, especially for schools

Since the postponement yesterday of June 30’s strange in-person public School Board meeting, I have heard and seen this question posed repeatedly: if it’s not safe for the public to attend a public School Board meeting, how is it safe to open schools?  There’s a simple answer to that question: it’s not “safe.” It won’t be “safe.” But that’s not…

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Limited in-person school starts July 8 for some rising 4th graders; so let’s see if we can make masks work

In-person school is poised to begin much sooner than most people realize — on July 8th. Masks or no masks; board votes or no board votes; the Polk County School District is planning to begin in person schooling at 12 sites. This grows out of the state DoE’s “reopening guidance” issued in conjunction with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press conference a…

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What is your voting plan for Aug. 18? If it’s vote-by-mail, ask for your ballot NOW.

My School Board election is part of the August 18 primary election. Key dates include: Now until August 8: Request vote-by-mail ballot. Link to Supervisor of Election request form here. July 16: First wave of absentee/mail ballots sent out to voters. The election begins on this day. That’s less than a month away. July 20: Last day to register to…

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A Polk schools reopening/COVID Q&A from a proudly active board member

 Let’s start with the two key quotes from Polk’s Chief Academic Officer Michelle Townley at Wednesday’s school opening task force meeting. You can and should watch the meeting above. These are what led to the public announcement that confused and alarmed a lot of people Thursday evening because it seemed to communicate the basic substance of these two quotes…

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The state has no “plan” but more testing for reopening schools; so we have to ask and answer foundational questions ourselves

Your child’s humanity; your child’s suffering over the last few months; you child’s development could not be more irrelevant to the current discussion of reopening schools in Florida. Nor could the well-being of health-vulnerable adults in a confined space with circulating air. Three basic tenets are driving the state’s non-plan for reopening that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard…

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What can Lakeland/Polk do? Single-member districts and geographic school choice would be a start.

How does our community harness the historic intensity of the Black Lives Matter protests to make structural changes that improve the real world life experience for Black citizens and for all citizens? As a Lakeland citizen and Polk County School Board member, I see two unfair and harmful local realities that lay within government’s power to address quickly. And I’m…

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Lying won’t help anybody’s life; and it won’t beat us. Try having some ideas instead.

Take a look at this short video from 17-year-veteran Polk County public school teacher Amanda Russell. It’s extremely humbling and gratifying. Key quote: “I voted for Billy Townsend in 2016 because I was looking for a School Board candidate that was driven and honest and not afraid to tell the truth. And that’s exactly what I got.” About the same…

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Melony Bell’s give-back-half position on the FRS heist hints at a veto. Now ask her if she wants a veto.

Now this is how civics is supposed to work. Two polite, intrepid citizens got Rep. Melony Bell, R-Fort Meade, on the record about the $9 million FRS heist from the people of Polk County and her vote to support it. I’ll reprint the entire statement in a moment. Full background on the FRS Heist here. But, at a high level,…

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Will the board chair/superintendent allow your elected school board to vote to demand a veto of Melony Bell’s $9 million FRS heist

I am working very hard, politically, to try to save public education as a whole and the human capacity of the Polk County School District, specifically, from the impacts of the COVID depression. I may absolutely fail. But I’m going to try. The existential problems posed by the COVID depression are almost entirely political. And they are vastly more pressing…

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