Tag: Polk Schools

A small man with a giant bank account

My incumbent opponent just gave himself $50,000 so that he can run attack ads and mailers against me for the rest of the election. If you’re counting at home, that means he’s “raised” a grand total of about $124,000 (about $60k of it his own money) for a job that he does not even want to do, if his performance is…

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The Greater Winter Haven learning community already exists. Let’s build around it.

I saw a beautiful thing Monday night. It reinforced my strong belief in aligning our school leadership with distinct communities through their high school feeder systems. I was walking the greater Winter Haven community’s homecoming parade with a crew of FFA students and J.V. football players.  I love teenagers — with their armor of cool struggling to cover their vulnerability….

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We. Are. Winning. But we still need your help.

Tuesday night at the Farm Bureau political forum and dinner, my incumbent opponent actually said this: “I will fight for teachers.” Really. A declarative sentence. I’m willing to bet those words have never before come out of his mouth. I’ve certainly never heard anything close to that from him. I welcome him to the fight. But it’s quite the evolution….

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The new needs friends: an optimistic note to supporters and skeptics

This is my favorite sequence from the Disney movie — Ratatouille. The all-powerful food critic, Anton Ego, confronting himself after a life-changing meal cooked by a rat. It’s one of my favorite scenes in any movie, ever. Here’s the key quote: “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over…

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Of LEAD money, teacher retention, and how new voices can shape a new district culture

Polk School District budget director Jason Pitts did not intend to accuse teachers of widespread theft of the state’s Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program. Thus far, I have failed to convince him to say that himself publicly, which was my goal in writing about this. (More on that in a moment.) But after talking to him Monday, I think I…

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The DoE/District dance of death is a crime against children and parents. End it.

Forget the politics of the School Board race for just a moment. If you’re a taxpaying citizen with a conscience, you need to know about what’s happening within the Stigmatized 5 schools. In the last 48 hours, I have been overwhelmed by angry messages, pleas for help, and general lamentation from a host of terrified people who may or may…

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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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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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The state DoE has failed. We must transform it, too.

You should read this whole story from The Ledger this morning about the possible closure of five Polk schools. Key passages. Five middle schools face being closed in the 2017-18 school year unless the Polk County School District comes up with an improvement plan the Florida State Board of Education will approve… The department deemed Denison, Kathleen, Lake Alfred-Addair, Shelley…

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The failed Bartow mindset and the illusion of meetings

Late Tuesday afternoon, I was driving to Lake Wales for a Chamber of Commerce gathering when I got a call from a desperate Lakeland mother. I met her a few weeks back at a Valencia neighborhood function at the Larry Jackson Library in northwest Lakeland. At the time, I gave everybody there my card. I urged them to call me…

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