Professional Educators in Florida have survived worst things than water damage, a yard full of debris and a couple of days without power. Mother Nature can be devastating but she bares us no malice. She destroys whatever happens to be in her way without regard to human conditions, landscape, or structures.
So educators pick themselves up, brush themselves off, roll up their sleeves and prepare for the work that drives them. They believe a free public education is the one essential need for a free democratic country to survive. I, in no way want to downplay the trauma many of us had to undergo throughout this struggle with Irma and her aftermath. This hurricane greatly inconvenienced a great many of our professional educators and family, many who still are without power. When all is said and done however, we all need to be grateful that we were spared the full wrath of Irma. Buildings, cars, possessions are replaceable, family and friends are not. We were spared any loss of life or serious injury among our family of educators and for that, I am very grateful.
In every school, plant operators, maintenance administrators and volunteers have been working diligently to get our schools open. They are putting in a ton of hours away from their families and the work that may need to be done on their own homes. Pinellas County School employees are answering the call and taking ownership of their District. Dr. Grego has expressed to me how grateful he is for the extra efforts being spent on getting our schools ready for our kids. The logistics involved in getting a District this size back on track is mind boggling. I have to take my hat off to our Superintendent and the Pinellas County School employees. Each one of us is an essential part of the large engine that drives this District toward student success.
As much damage as our schools endured by the wind and rain of Irma, it pales in comparison to the damage done by horrible legislation at the hands of legislators who neglect their duty to properly fund public education. With SB 736, they silenced the voice of teachers who now have to fear losing their jobs for advocating for students. With A-plus money and Best and Brightest, and performance pay, they pitted teacher against teacher who now must compete with each other for the crumbs sent by the state while trying to teach students the meaning of collaboration. Finally, the most recent attack on our public school system is HB 7069. This bill starves our public schools while giving our hard earned tax dollars to charter schools that are devoid of any accountability for that money.
On Tuesday, September 19 at 3:30 pm, during the next School Board Meeting, Dr. Grego will ask the School Board to join with eleven other Districts in filing suit against HB 7069. This is a bold move when you depend on funding from the state to operate your District but a true leader knows when it is time to act boldly and the time is now. This action by Dr. Grego lets all the employees, students, parents, and community know that together, we are the defenders of public education and the stakes are too high to stand by and simply watch things play out.
As part of this District, I am proud of what we have accomplished throughout the hardship of this storm and I am proud of the way we have all pitched in to get things ready for our students. Everyone deserves a pat on the back and as I have always been quick to criticize our administration when I felt they were wrong, I must be equally quick to praise them, especially our Superintendent, when they deserve it. A hurricane can do a great deal of damage but the folks up in Tallahassee have been doing a heck of a lot of damage for a good many years now. The lawsuit against the state will unify our District the way this hurricane has brought out the best in people.
Thank you for all you do and for taking ownership in our profession, our union and our District.