Board Member Kathleen Shanahan slams Florida Board of Education

From the Tampa Times by Jeff
Solochek
Maybe there’s something in the
water. Or perhaps it’s just the liberating feeling of having just a short time
left to serve on the Florida Board of Education
Whatever the case, board member
Kathleen Shanahan, whose term expires at the end of December, on Tuesday
followed in the footsteps of her former colleagues T. Willard Fair and Roberto
Martinez in freely offering a heavily critical assessment of the goings on at
the highest level of state education policy.
Shanahan, a Tampa businesswoman and
one-time Jeb Bush chief of staff, said the board’s credibility as an
independent, statutorily created entity is at risk as members appear to have no
plan to deal with clear problems in the state accountability system. She
criticized interim commissioner Pam Stewart for listening rather than leading,
saying time was wasting as detailed plans to move ahead had not come forth
weeks after questions about Florida’s school grading model had come up
for a second year.
“We’re in crisis time,”
Shanahan said. “We’re still in the same mess we were in that I mentioned
in July.”
She leveled some shots at Gov. Rick
Scott as well, noting that he had not bothered to attend his own education summit, not issued
any position papers on next steps, and then floated the idea of an executive 
order on education to come without consulting board members.
“It’s embarrassing for him that
he’s disrespecting the statutory integrity of this board,” Shanahan said,
urging the board to step up and act.
Chairman Gary Chartrand and Stewart
rejected the idea of the state being in crisis mode, but said they agreed that
some action is necessary.
Shanahan’s comments were much like
those of Martinez, the Coral Gables attorney who frequently criticized the department’s efforts, particularly under former commissioner Gerard Robinson, as Martinez’s
term wound down. Fair actually quit the board a short time before his term
officially ended in protest of the forced ouster of former commissioner Eric
Smith
.
The board continues to meet, with
the subject of its commissioner search still on the agenda. Watch on Channel 7
of thefloridachannel.org

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