Beaches Watch held a school board forum for the district 2 candidates and kudos to an organization outside of the biased and compromised Jacksonville Public Education Fund for having one.
All five candidates were there though some Elizabeth Anderson, Casey Ayers and Shannon Beckham stood out.
Elizabeth Anderson a former DCPS high school English teacher and current mental health clinician was consistently impressive as she hammered home her message about mental health and addressing the whole child. Her unique combination of experience has shown her that we can’t just address a child’s academic needs but we must likewise teach them how to cope and get along, and that we can no longer ignore mental health. Other candidates mentioned addressing the whole child but it seemed like something they had heard somewhere and thought sounded good, while Mrs. Anderson had plans such as introducing a social emotional component to our curriculum and giving the staff training in mental health strategies.
Casey Ayers was also impressive as he talked about the need for more industry certifications as we prepare our students for the future. He seemed to recognize that not every kid wants to go to college but every kid will want to provide for themselves and that the more options we give them the better off they will be. He didn’t just shout school choice but he gave specific examples and he said he wants these to take place in our public schools not in charters. Several other candidates also mentioned more choice without giving anything close to specifics. Ayers also pointed out that Florida only spends, when adjusted for inflation 78% of what we spent on education in 2008 a stat after my own heart.
Ayers and Anderson stood out because they had unique messages. While the other candidates regurgitated shades of the same answer and were very light on details, Anderson and Ayers had plans to change the district for the better.
Though perhaps the best answer to a question from the night came from Beckham. When asked about getting along with the state board of education, though I think in this context people took it to mean Tallahassee, while other candidates preached getting along she said she hasn’t been happy with the things that they have done and that the school bard had failed to motivate and get parents involved so they can advocate for better. People like Scott Shine the current district 2 board member preach appeasement and I am here to tell you that doesn’t work.
District 2 is fortunate to have several good candidates, I just hope people take the time to learn the issues and make the right choice.