LIST OF ISSUES
TEACH PERSONAL FINANCE
Today's children are living in a society where fiscal irresponsibility surrounds them. Therefore, we must educate our school children about personal finance, Investing, budgeting, understanding how interest works, etc. In addition, we need to partner with local financial professionals/firms willing to volunteer their time to conduct bi-weekly or monthly virtual or on-site lessons for grades 1-12.
One idea to spark engagement is to create online "mock stock trading" competitions. Each grade level would have a quarterly "investment champion" for selecting a stock portfolio with the highest average return. (Free competitive: "mock investment" platforms are made available by numerous websites). Each winner would receive district acknowledgment and a small reward, such as homework/test passes. We can expand the fun to faculty and staff to compete among themselves. Using competitive and interactive teaching methods will likely garner kids' interest in investing. Once kids understand basic investment principles, they will become much more likely to be interested in personal finance lessons and learn about saving strategies, debt management, powers of compound growth, etc.
In addition to in-classroom learning for kids, we should offer occasional evening financial seminars for parents of various grade levels hosted by local volunteer financial professionals. Sessions can be recorded and posted online for parents with conflicting work schedules. The purpose of these learning sessions is to educate parents about what types of things they can do at home to put school learning into practice. Something as simple as having an at-home "savings match program" where a parent matches the amount of money their child puts into a savings account, with the understanding that the child has to leave it there for a defined period before they are entitled to the matched contributions. This method Incentivizes good savings habits, demonstrates the power of compound growth, and overall creates interest in saving and investing.
I am aware of two local Investment firms offering voluntary programs geared toward increasing financial literacy in school-aged children. We must take advantage of these partnerships.
Our country is over 30 trillion dollars in debt. The time is now to educate our future, not to repeat past failures.
ELIMINATE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER COMPENSATION
STOP paying for part-time work, which others will gladly volunteer their time to do.
The National School Boards Association reports that 61 percent of board members nationally receive no pay. Nassau County should be among the 61%.
I want to provide context around the compensation Nassau School board members receive. According to Indeed and Payscale.com, the average Fl Elementary school teacher is $18.82/hour, the average Primary care doctor is $79.98, and the average FL attorney is $48.31. The average NFL player is $471/hour.
The average Nassau County school board member makes $1,370/hour (Between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022, the average school board meeting lasted 65 minutes, meeting twice per month.)
Each year, five school board members receive a $34,546 salary, which ends up being $172,730/annually. This figure excludes benefits (an additional $10,000/annually). We should eliminate Compensation for members of the school board.
I want to take this $172,730 and allocate $10,795.62 to each of the 16 schools within the county. Then, based on the satisfaction surveys completed by parents, the top-rated teacher will each receive a $10,795.62 bonus. This incentive-based reward system would help to retain our district's best teachers.
The estimated school shooting lasts under 5 minutes. Compare this to the US average police response time of 10 minutes. There are only so many resources to go around, and the simple matter is law enforcement can only be in so many places at once. I believe there is a common-sense solution to addressing this issue, which simultaneously saves the taxpayers money. Due to the large size of Nassau County, the Sheriff's Office maintains substations in Western Nassau County. These locations supply the following "a place to conduct roll calls and have meetings, as well as a quiet place for deputies to complete reports." (Nassau Sheriff site). Rather than renting separate buildings for this purpose, let's designate office space in each of the counties' schools for law enforcement to use for the administrative component of their day. The increased police presence at schools will serve as a deterrent to acts of crime and almost eliminate the response time in an emergency. Every school in the district would participate.
Additional security measures:
* We need to install Impact-resistant interior and exterior doors at every school.
* Publicly lobby our state representatives to reintroduce and support House Bill 1055 (defeated in March 2022). This provision would allow for video cameras in public school classrooms. The opposition to this bill cites privacy concerns. One compromise to this would be that the cameras only "go live" in the event of a school lockdown. Law enforcement should have access to every possible resource in an emergency.
* We need biometric door locks installed on all interior and exterior doors. Then, along with all staff members, local law enforcement officials would have access to each entry at every school in the district.
* Coordinate with local law enforcement to conduct semi-annual active shooter scenarios at each campus (on non-school days) to ensure that law enforcement learns each campus's unique characteristics and layouts.
IMPLEMENT SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS
In March of 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation (CS/HB 1467) that would impose School Board term limit requirements statewide to 12-year limits. Let's take this one step further and limit board members to 2 terms (8 years maximum). Term limits avoid stagnation, tiredness, boredom, and loss of commitment that commonly sets in when board members serve long periods. We need to ensure that we are continuously injecting new ideas and perspectives. Nassau County schools have the potential to be the top school district in the state of Florida. I believe that my thoughts can bring our community closer to making this a reality.
CTE PROGRAM EXPANSION
Expand the Career Technical Education program to offer more career-track programs at every Nassau County High School. Additional programs might include the following:
Welding, plumbing, law enforcement, firefighters, medics, brick/stone masons, equipment operators, general carpentry, etc.
Preparing all students for college and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum. Unfortunately, the "college-for-everyone" mentality has pushed awareness of other possible career paths to the margins. The cost to the individuals and the economy is high. If we want everyone's kid to succeed, we need to expand vocational education back to the core of high school learning.
We need to partner with as many local businesses and governmental agencies as possible to offer a wide array of career paths that appeal to a broader range of student's interests.
SOCIAL STUDIES & CIVICS
Refocus on preparing children to be informed, citizens. Let’s rekindle young Americans’ understanding of history and civics, including the kinds that inspire the love of country, even while acknowledging past failings and present challenges. (Saying no to teachings that cast America as a fundamentally racist nation, is an excellent start.) Our country desperately needs the totality of informed citizenship to enable our democratic republic to survive, let alone flourish.
Over the last few months, I have spoken with many parents about what they feel are the most pressing issues in their child's Nassau County school. The most frequent response is bullying. They do not think teachers or school administrators take it seriously unless there is physical violence. The existing bullying policy "zero tolerance" is viewed as ineffective and inadequate by most parents I have spoken with; we cannot allow schools to hide behind a weak policy with a "strong" name. I passionately believe in due diligence and consulting all involved parties before forming an opinion. I contacted a few of our local school principals to discuss this but never received any replies. Right now, I have no recourse, powerless to make them sit down and have the discussion. I know this is how many parents are left feeling when trying to defend their children from bullies. It is not right. I want to be the one to hold administrators accountable. The other day I spoke with one parent who told me her child's bullying was so severe that he wanted to take his own life. He was not alone. Countless studies show a disturbingly high trend of suicides among teens, adolescents, and pre-teens. The only debatable question is, why? Many of the resources I read cite bullying. Bullying is not a new phenomenon. However, the introduction of social media is often cited as an exacerbating factor. Going home was an escape for victims of bullying at the end of the day, in the past. Today, social media serves as an additional platform, another opportunity to tease and harass.
As adults, we owe it to kids to take control and move forward with actionable steps. There is no overnight solution that will solve the problem. It will be a process of changing the culture of what is or is not acceptable or tolerable. Some kids are much more sensitive than others. All parents with more than one child know that what bothers one of their kids might not disturb the other. Every child is different, and we should respect that.
We must also hold parents of bullies accountable. One thought is to require a parent or guardian of a bullying child to attend a one-hour video (regarding bullying) with their child for each incident. The video itself might have little impact, but it would force a time for a conversation between the parent and their child regarding the behavior. If the parent and child do not show up within a specific period, it results in an automatic suspension. If multiple repeat occurrences occur within a particular period, expel the child. While it is unfortunate that some parents can't or are unwilling to control their child's behavior, that's not everyone else's problem. That is just one idea; I am sure many ideas are worth consideration, but we must start the dialogue. Teachers are there to teach, not to reform your misbehaving child.
School board members should review and vote on expulsions. Two reasons: 1. Assure an impartial review of the facts. 2. To force them to be informed of what types of things are occurring in our schools and identify "hot spots" of recurring issues at a particular school.
For anyone who doubts a problem, visit greatschools.com and similar sites and read the parent reviews. Find the online petition of over one hundred parents demanding action against bullying by one of our schools. No parents should have to resort to petitions for administrators to do their job.
Many voters have asked me, "what's the difference between you and the other candidates? One of the parents I spoke with the other day summed it up perfectly. The difference between us, I am the advocate for students and their families. My two opponents, one is primarily focused on improving teachers' lives because they are a part of that fraternity. The third candidate focuses on maintaining the "status quo" because they are a part of it. Questioning the existing structure and how things are currently operating is self-criticism. That mentality is by no means limited to the Nassau school board; it is the same with every publicly elected official. This mentality is why I feel so strongly about term limits. There is only so much someone can contribute before their main objective becomes self-preservation. The focus becomes on building relationships with their colleagues, being agreeable, and not being a disruptor. I want to be clear; I am not criticizing either opponent as an individual; I have not heard a personal negative about either. Human nature is to "cozy up" with those you identify most closely. Meanwhile, the focus on the ultimate objective is lost. The goal is to provide students with a world-class education in a safe environment. A safe environment means taking every step to prevent a school shooting and preventing kids from enduring emotional and physical bullying. The school board, teachers, and administrators must be accountable when they neglect to provide a safe learning environment. Therefore, I embrace the characterization as a candidate for "kids and their families." There is no question that I will not be the candidate of choice of other board members, administrators, and many teachers. They want candidates who will toe the line and will not question current processes, which makes them uncomfortable. I fully anticipate getting nasty messages from these people, their friends, and their family. But I want to be clear, spare yourself the time because I will wear criticism for doing what is correct as a badge of honor. As author Dale Carnegie stated, "When you are kicked and criticized, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a feeling of importance. It often means that you are accomplishing something and are worthy of attention. Many people get a sense of savage satisfaction out of denouncing those who are better educated, happier, or more successful". Kick away.
CRT is divisive and anti-American. CRT has no place in our schools! I will strongly oppose ANY attempt to implements or introduce its vile teachings in our school district. I am proud to be the only School Board candidate to openly take a stance against it.