Everyone remembers their favorite teacher.
For me, two always come to mind. Ms. Schoenwether, who taught journalism my senior year at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The other is Mr. McBroom, a speech teacher at the same school who introduced me to the fun of public speaking.
I’m where I am today as a professional because of those two.
As my newspaper career grew, particularly in Citrus County, I always considered teaching as the likely landing spot should I ever tire of news writing.
Then I started writing about classrooms, and was struck by the correlation between politically motivated state laws and the reality teachers face daily. In what other areas are we constantly passing rules that prevent professionals from doing what they’re licensed to do?
The more I learned about teaching in the real world, the less interested I became. The oversight is enormous. Seriously. Most people have no clue. The paperwork. Reports. Everything is measured to a T.
Now, of course, we’re entering a new phase where we just flat out tell teachers what they can and can’t say to kids. And then allow fanatics to sue school districts if teachers say the “wrong” thing to a student.
Wonder how teachers feel about that “Free State of Florida” thing there, Governor.
Teachers need our support now more than ever. The pressure is coming from all sides. All they want to do is their job, their passion. They need to make sure we have their backs.
And that makes electing someone to the school board so critically important.
I truthfully did not spend as much time with the school board District 5 candidates as I would have liked. I did have Cattle Dog chats with three of the four, though, and the news is good.
Before going there, let me say a word about Mary Seader. She was an early participant in the Library Guy Gang’s assault on truth at county commission meetings. For that reason, and her early campaign statements about kids dressing up like animals, I didn’t see any reason for a chat because we clearly were not even close to being on the same page.
During the campaign, she had to put up with some nutty fake drag queen (you read that right) who would show up at meet-the-candidate events and make a beeline for Mary’s table, just to torment her. Totally inappropriate and shameful.
At Beverly Hills on Saturday, she smiled as I took her picture. I think Mary’s a nice person, perhaps with some misguided views. I would encourage her after the election to volunteer in a school, help out, see how things really are.
That leaves Deborah Daniels, Joe Faherty and 18-year incumbent Linda Powers.
All three school board candidates are solid individuals well suited for this position. Powers has four-plus terms in office. Daniels is a retired middle school teacher. Faherty will retire at year’s end as a sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer.
Powers clearly has the experience and, having served in office that long, knows how the school government works. Daniels and Faherty may not have all that detailed knowledge, but they’re both quick studies and will pick it up quickly.
So it really boils down to this: Is it time for a fresh perspective on the school board?
It’s rare we throw a sitting school board member out of office. The last time was 2012, when Susan Hale defeated Bill Murray. Hale, clearly overwhelmed by the complexity of the position, resigned two months into her term.
Generally, it’s the incumbent’s job to lose. This is like a contract renewal. Do we sign Powers up for another four years or go in a different direction?
I’m not confident enough in my knowledge of the deep school issues to render an opinion whether Powers has done the job or not. Or if either Daniels or Faherty can do better.
All three have their hearts in the right place, and that’s with kids, educators, support staff and parents.
By the way, there’s a strong runoff potential here. Unless the overall primary winner gets 50%-plus-1 of the vote, the top two move to the general election.
School board may be off the political radar a bit this summer, but no more. Class is back in session.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.