My sympathies and expectations for Polk’s district administrators

Recently, I was approached by a long-time Polk School District administrator. She’s a functional leader, not an organizational leader. She and her staff work daily with schools. And she was upset with the relentless focus from virtually all candidates on the shortcomings of Bartow leadership. It’s wearing her down, she said. She didn’t really disagree with our core critique of…

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Vote in-person NOW for change and energy in the Polk School District leadership

Early voting starts today. The polls are open. You can vote in person for change. NOW. And that is the core question issue in this race.  If you think the Polk School Board’s passive, weak, indifferent approach is producing what we want as a community, you should vote for my incumbent opponent. He will deliver more of the same. You…

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Billy’s School Board would deliver daily public updates on our crises

The Polk School District has at least two major ongoing crises — in addition to our ongoing general crisis of public leadership and teacher shortages. These emergent crises are: The staffing and future of the five stigmatized middle schools that have been under Tony Bellamy’s failed direction. Those five schools have a combined 39 open teaching positions, according to the…

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We can’t afford four more years of the Berryman/LeRoy era

Should we continue the Hunt Berryman/Kathryn LeRoy era of Polk County public education? Or should we start a new era, based on new priorities, new action, and new personnel? That’s the core question at stake in this very important election. And it really has nothing to do with me or Hunt Berryman as people. We both have friends and family…

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Listen to the timeless wisdom of Hazel Haley

Hazel Haley taught English to more than 13,500 kids in her 66 years at Lakeland High. She retired at age 89 in 2006. In my final act as Education editor for The Ledger in 2006, I had the great honor and good fortune of producing a special section celebrating her career. We called it “Portrait of a Lady,” which I thought…

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The Stigmatized 5, part 3: A question of public leadership

I reported last week about the five traditional zoned middle schools that feed Winter Haven High School. Four of them face closure by the state. The fifth, McLaughlin in Lake Wales, just received an “F” on the corrupt state grading list.  Collectively, I reported, those five schools have burned through 18 principals in the four years of the Berryman/LeRoy/Byrd era….

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The Stigmatized 5, part 2: Community, death, and life

By my count, the four stigmatized Winter Haven schools, plus McLaughlin in Lake Wales, have had a total of 18 principals since 2012, when my incumbent opponent took office. Feel free to count for yourself if you want to verify. I’ve posted below the report the district sent me. It’s what death looks like for learning community leadership. It’s what…

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Throw down at the Derry Down and more: Billy’s excited to talk to Winter Haven this week

I’ve found myself writing and thinking quite deeply about Winter Haven recently. Many of you read this piece about the stigmatized schools under state threat — and a vision for saving them. Part 2 is coming tomorrow. If you have questions or thoughts or criticisms about my ideas for Winter Haven and the wider district, I’d love to hear them…

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The Stigmatized 5, part 1: The flesh and blood kids of the Winter Haven High ecosystem are a moral imperative

The table above contains the schools of the Winter Haven High School ecosystem. These are the schools that feed into Winter Haven High. The names in green and red are magnet or choice schools. The remainder are traditional zoned schools. Look at the middle schools. What do you notice? Four of the five traditional middle schools that feed WHHS are on…

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Check out the Campaign Commercial!

 

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