Sorry, Todd – You are a monkey’s uncle

August 2, 2006

monkeyEvolution Opponents Lose Kansas Board Majority

Kansas voters on Tuesday handed power back to moderates on the State Board of Education, setting the stage for a return of science teaching that broadly accepts the theory of evolution, according to preliminary election results.

With just 6 districts of 1,990 yet to report as of 8 a.m. Central time today, two conservatives — including incumbent Connie Morris, a former west Kansas teacher and author who had described evolution as “a nice bedtime story” — appear to have been defeated decisively by two moderates in the Republican primary elections. One moderate incumbent, Janet Waugh from the Kansas City area, held on to her seat in the Democratic primary.

If her fellow moderates prevailed, Ms. Waugh said last week, “we need to revisit the minutes and every decision that was 6-4, re-vote.”

Ms. Morris lost to Sally Cauble, a teacher from Liberal, who has favored a return to traditional science standards.

Taking another seat from the conservatives in the Republican primary was Jana Shaver of Independence, a former teacher and administrator, who ran far ahead of Brad Patzer. Mr. Patzer is the son-in-law of the current board member Iris Van Meter, who did not seek reelection.

In another closely fought Republican race, in the Kansas City-Olathe district, Harry E. McDonald, a retired biology teacher, lost to the conservative incumbent John W. Bacon, an accountant.

The results seem likely to give the moderates a 6-4 edge on the 10-member board when it takes over in January. Half the members of the board are elected every two years. The election results are not final until certified by the Kansas Secretary of State, Ron Thornburgh, following an official canvas.

Both moderate Republican winners face Democratic opponents in November, but the Democrats are moderates as well, favoring a return to the traditional science standards that prevailed before a conservative majority elected in 2004 passed new rules for teaching science. Those rules, enacted last November, called for classroom critiques of Darwin’s theory. Ms. Waugh, the Democrat, does not face a Republican opponent in the general election.

The changes in the science standards, favored by advocates of intelligent design who believe life is too complex to be have been created by natural events, put Kansas at the vanguard of efforts by religious advocates critical explanations of the origin of life that do not include a creator. But intelligent design was not referenced in the Kansas standards.

The curriculum changes, coming after years of see-sawing power struggles between moderates and conservatives, drew widespread ridicule and, critics complained, threatened Kansas’s high standing in national education circles. But Steve E. Abrams, the chairman of the board and a veterinarian from Arkansas City, said the changes only subjected evolution to critical scientific scrutiny.


RO Note: Escambia Co. school board candidate Todd Leonard wants to introduce Intelligent Design into the public schools. See Oh, my God! or is it Todd’s God?

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42 Responses to “Sorry, Todd – You are a monkey’s uncle”

  1. Tom Says:

    Just to be clear, Mr. Leonard is advocating the inclusion of Intelligent Design Theory into the discussion concerning origins. He does not refer to evolution as a “bed time story” and he is NOT suggesting that Evolutionary Theory not be taught. He is suggesting that Intelligent Design Theory AND Evolution be included in the discussion concerning origins. Presently, it is a one-sided discussion. Regrettably, there is an obvious attempt to squelch any teaching that is perceived to be at odds with Darwinian Evolutionary Theory.

    Even so, Mr. Leonard’s platform is much, much broader than Intelligent Design. He is advocating Charter Schools, Vouchers for Failing students, Principal Accountability, Reduction of Bureacracy, Ending Social Promotion (passing students who have not EARNED a passing grade), Merit Pay for Teachers, and more.

    Visit http://votetoddleonard.com/ to read more.

    By the way, Rick, nice headline.

    Tom

  2. Rick Outzen Says:

    Why waste education dollars fighting for Intelligence Design in the public schools? It has been rejected everywhere else in the country. We have enough image problems – without bringing this issue into our education system.

  3. Tom Says:

    Rick,

    You’ve published a relatively steady stream of “Todd Leonard” posts, nearly all, if not all, have portrayed him in a negative light. Is intelligent design you only problem with Todd?

    You really should give him a look if you want better schools. His platform models that of wildly successful Don Gaetz, who is a candidate for State Senator.

    http://votetoddleonard.com/

  4. Rick Outzen Says:

    I have no problems with Todd – I strongly disagree however with his making Intelligent Design an issue (something Don Gaetz didn’t do).

    Gaetz hasn’t made his religious beliefs an issue. And he was a highly successful business man before he sought office.

    Can Todd emulate Don by adopting his platform? The voters will decide.

  5. Tom Says:

    I am glad that you agree that we cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars in our schools. Mr. Leonard is certainly going to do his part to end wasteful spending… there is no doubt about that. It has to be addressed and soon!

  6. Joe Says:

    Tom,

    Once again, you are trying to frame the debate in terms of “teaching both sides,” but Intelligent Design is hardly a competing theory. (And to answer your comment from our previous discussion: Intelligent Design is derived from creationist doctrine and serves no secular, educational purpose, so to teach it in public schools would fail both the Lemon Test and Endorsement Test and would therefore run afoul of the Establishment Clause of our First Amendment.)

    If you are a serious proponent of ID, please do what you can to explain all the natural, observable phenomena in this great big world of ours that only make sense in the light of evolutionary theory. You can start at the TalkOrigins FAQ, located here: http://talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

  7. Tom Says:

    Rick,

    I am not sure what you are referring to when you suggest that Mr. Leonard has ” made his religious beliefs an issue.” Intelligent Design is not a religious issue, it is an issue of academic freedom and scientific inquiry.

    Again, however, this is not Mr. Leonard’s main issue by any stretch. And if you get a chance to meet Todd, I think you’ll agree that he has what it takes to make a huge difference in Escambia County Schools. Todd is the only candidate with a vision to improve our schools. The other candidates are for the “status quo” at best.

    Mr. Leonard is committed to making our schools better. This is not simply another job for Mr. Leonard. He doesn’t need the money. He intends to make a difference. He has nothing to lose and our students have everything to gain. As a District 1 parent whose kids attend Middle School and High School in our County’s Public schools, I for one am glad to see someone with courage and vision running for this position.

    Tom

  8. Rick Outzen Says:

    Come on, Tom. I’m from Mississippi, but I’m not as dim as I look. Intelligent Design is not an accepted scientific theory. It is a Religious Right agenda item.

    Does Todd have kids in the Escambia County public school system?

  9. Tom Says:

    Joe, the establishment clause is contained below for your perusal:

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Where in this whole discussion is Congress making any laws to promote a particular religion. You know very well that this clause had to do with a safeguard against establishing a state run church and against intruding into the affairs of local churches. This clause does not restrict intelligent design as a scientific theory that ought to be considered.

    We are simply saying, “allow it to be considered”. It is an issue of academic freedom. Ever taken a look at the curriculum of the average post “establishment clause” school? Do you really think that even one of the colonies would have signed on to a constitution that prohibits the mention of God in its schools?

    No one is advocating that the Judeo Christian God of the Bible is the designer. I.D.ers are simply saying that something so complex didn’t just pop into existence “ex nihilo” (out of nothing). Complexity and apparent design scream for a designer and not mere chance and coincidence.

    Tom

  10. Tom Says:

    By the way, Rick, I’m from Mississippi too. And I am as dim as I look.

    As for Mr. Leonard’s kids, 2 are too young for school and one is “on the way”. The oldest two attend private schools as do very many students who are in District 1.

    Mr. Bergosh has made this his chief issue. He is somehow the better candidate because his kids are in public school, even though he “could afford to send them to private schools.”

    I, frankly, could care less whether or not either of them have kids in public school. I simply want someone who is going to help our county come out of the educational pit! I want a better county, which means we MUST HAVE BETTER SCHOOLS! I am sure you agree with that.

  11. WanderingHoo Says:

    Promoting the teaching of Intelligent Design as science in our public schools is more than enough to disqualify anyone for a position higher than substitue bus driver. It is no more of a valid scientific theory than that the moon is made of blue cheese.

    There are pleanty of opportunities to weigh in on issues of divinity: history, religion, philosophy, etc. Science class however is out of bounds. Anyone who suggests otherwise has no interest in BETTER schools, just in ones that don’t threaten his or her mythology of choice.

  12. Chuck Darwin Says:

    Their building a $25 million dollar creationism museum in Kentucky that will put the local dino park to shame. Check it out: http://www.answersingenesis.org/museum/

  13. Floyd Says:

    Tom,

    Get a grip. You act as if your boy Todd is going to be the saviour of the school district by taking the seat of a left-wing liberal, when actually he is replacing the most conservative and respected member of the board, Gary Bergosh.

    To say that the current administration is only “tweaking the margins” is assinine. Superintendent Paul has turned the District upside down during his tenure. Just ask some of the former principles and administrators who have beeen replaced because they did not measure up.

    Is the school district where it needs to be? No. And Superintendent Paul will tell you so. But it is makiing significant strides in the right direction.

    Todd’s comparison of Escambia County to Santa Rosa and Okaloosa is also weak. If they had the same percentage of low income students to deal with, they would have the same results as we do. But having said that, you should also note that Mr. Paul has not accepted that as an excuse for failure or mediocrity. It is in the lower performing schools that this administration has placed most of the emphasis and where they have seen some of the greatest results.

    It is clear that Todd is only spewing empty, emotional, and uninformed rhetoric. He has not accomplished anything, but has only denigrated the hard work and dedication of thousands of school district employees.

    Let’s put some meat on those bones Todd. How are you going to reform the district? Where is all of this fiscal waste and how are you going to cut costs? What are the safety concerns you mentiond and what is your proposal to fix them?

    Empty rhetoric and nothing more!!

    One can easily see that Todd has no faith in the school district or its employees. Does he really expect us to have faith in him as board member?

    It is clear that his number one issues is his far-right agenda, much like that of Vanette Webb’s.

    The last thing this county needs is another narrow-minded radical intent on putting his religious beliefs and ego above the welfare of the students and staff.

    Todd needs to stick to selling class rings and text books and leave the business of education to someone who cares more about the students and their education, than he does about his over inflated ego.

  14. Richard Says:

    As a long time Escambia County teacher Todd worries me. Not because of the Intellegent design issue, but, because he doesn’t seem to be very informed on the issues. In the last six years our Superintendent with Mr. Bergosh’s help has increased teacher pay by over 32%, he elimiinated social promotions years ago and we already have a voucher system for failing schools. I should also share with Mr. Leonard that our schools are the safest they have been in many years. Gary Bergosh and Jim Paul have a pro family, pro efficiency, and pro accountability track record. They have reduced waste, fraud and abuse and increased reserves while still improving pay and the condition of our schools. I am sure Todd is a nice fellow. But,he gets no points for attacking an administration and district three board member that have turned our district around and held strong to conservative principles. Todd is just another political “wannabe” trying to get elected by trashing others using vague rhetoric. One more thing; unlike Tom I think it is very significant that Todd refuses to place his children in public school.

  15. Tom Says:

    Richard and Floyd, thanks for the replies. As far as rhetoric goes, you seem to be doing quite well at it yourself.

    The question that needs to be asked is this,”have we done enough to reform our schools?” Mr. Leonard and many people in Escambia County do not think so.

    Now, to touch on a few of your inaccuracies:

    Todd is not talking about “school vouchers”, he is aware that “school vouchers” are in place. Todd is talking about vouchers that are available to students who fail their grade level. Do some research, you’ll see that there is a difference.

    Social promotion has been ended? Where. I have many teacher friends who would testify otherwise. Arms are twisted to pass students because we do not have a good plan to help our failing students. We do not have the room to accomodate the number of students who earn a failing grade yet, who for a variety of reasons, are given passing grades.

    Most people, district employees or otherwise, know full well that there is a huge amount of waste in the system. Since when does a School need 2 or 3 deans, 2 or 3 guidance councellors, 7 or 8 P.E. teachers, In School Suspension Teachers, etc, etc. etc. Some of these positions are being filled by those who have been “fired” from other schools in Escambia County.

    We can start by cutting that gluttenous Hall Center in half. We can also eliminate the mindset of “firing” someone only to reassign him/her to a new job in the same system. Come on guys. You have to acknowlege that change needs to come more quickly and more substantially.

    If things are so great, then why do some of our best teachers drive to Santa Rosa and Okaloosa? The pay increases are appreciated, but they are hardly enough. How do we pay for these vouchers for failing students and for an increase in salary for our teachers? Cuts, Cuts Cuts, and more cuts.

    Todd is not saying that strides have not been made. However, I think most anyone in Escambia County would argue against your premise that the School District has been “turned upside down.” Have there been changes for good? Yes, but… much more should have been done and needs to be done.

    Mr. Leonard wants to help Jim Paul do what Todd believes Mr. Paul wants to do, but, but lacks support to do it. He wants to encourage Mr. Paul to be bold. Todd will be Mr. Paul’s biggest supporter and cheerleader in helping him bring about bold initiatives. Mr. Paul has done much. But, he needs and possibly wants to do more. Mr. Leonard aims to help him do it.

    Todd is not running against Gary Bergosh and Jim Paul or against teachers. He respects Gary and Jim and our teachers. He simply wants to bring a vision to the school board that will help to vastly improve our school system. And you are right to avoid using our Socio-Economic status an excuse (although it seems that’s what you were doing). Todd certainly will not. But, you must be aware that even our highest scoring schools in our highest socio-economic areas are under performing when compared to the highest scoring schools in other districts.

    Just how has Mr. Leonard attacked teachers in our system? Mr. Leonard aims to be their advocate. He has spoken against the system itself. It needs a major overhaul.

    You all know that we are still socially promoting our kids to some degree. Maybe not to the degree that we were doing it several years ago, but it is still happening. You need only to ask the students and parents whose kids are seniors and have yet to pass the FCAT. If we would have failed them like we should have, and then given them vouchers to seek help from tutoring services like Silvan and others, statistics prove that they’d be much higher achievers (look at Okaloosa) than they are today.

    Make an issue out of whether his kids attend public schools if you’d like. He doesn’t deny it. In fact, he affirms your right to criticize him for doing so. A large number of parents in district one do not send their kids to the public schools in district one. How many district one parents have their kids attending “Brown Barge”, Ransom, or Beulah Math and Science Academy? How many parents would like to send their kids to these same schools but cannot, due to overcrowding in those schools, and end up sending them to private schools instead? A bunch. We need more choices and more teachers in our best schools, and we need to drastically improve our consistently lower scoring schools.

    On another note, we are not abiding by our class size ammendments simply by adding more “non-teaching” positions in our schools. It looks good on paper, but, 30+ kids in a class doesn’t look good on paper no matter how you slice it.

    The issue is not “does Mr. Leonard send his kids to public school?” Here are the issues and questions that I believe Mr. Leonard hopes to address:

    Will he strive to make a difference? Yes.

    Will he strive to drastically cut waste? Yes.

    Will he strive to see schools adopt higher standards? Yes.

    Will he strive to end social promotion? Yes.

    Will he strive to see Academic Freedom and defend your child’s right to learn and investigate the different theories regarding origins? Yes.

    Will he defend the Pledge? Yes.

    Will he advocate re-naming our “winter break” to “Christmas Break” as it has historically and traditionally been named? Yes.

    Will he seek to hold Principals accountable? Yes.

    Will he seek to restore a high quality Athletic Program in Escambia County? Yes.

    Will he pursue a renewed interest in the Arts and the Humanities? Yes.

    Will he seek to see some of our schools that are on the chopping blocks be turned into charter schools? Yes.

    Will he seek to see moral education be given its proper and needful place in our schools? Yes.

    Bottom line, if you want a continuance of the “satus quo” and are happy with where we are right now, then do not vote for Mr. Leonard.

    By the way, your caricatures of Mr. Leonard are wrong. He is a level headed, thoughtful, calm man. He is even keeled. Try your best to paint him otherwise if you must. But, he is not a fire breathing, frothing at the mouth candidate.

    Is he the savior as you suggest that I have said? Nope. I’ve never said that. There is only one Savior (Acts 4:12) and His name is not Todd.

    You need to speak to Mr. Leonard yourselves. I’m sure he would welcome your comments and advice. You’ll find him articulate, amicable, calm, reasonable and genuinely concerned about the welfare of Escambia County and its young people.

    Except for a brief stint in the U.S. Army as a Bradley Platoon Commander, Todd is the only candidate who was born, raised, and has lived in this county his entire life.

    Todd is committed to making our schools better.

    Tom

  16. blah Says:

    Floyd-

    to point that Pcola (Esc county) has more lower class students than do Okaloosa and Santa Rosa and this is reason for the low FCAT scores. I will try to parapharase a brillant catch phrase of the current Super. of Education from Okaloosa- “low expectations is a soft form of bigotry”

    Richard-

    Of course if you enjoy where Esc Co is with its level of pay for teachers, or its education of the students, than of course- you should not vote for Todd. I am not sure what his positions are on the aforemention subjects, but it is evident where the current admin is and if you like the direction- than you pay for what you get. No sweat of my nose, but look to the West…there are FAR better school systems over that direction. Maybe Todd isn’t the “savior” we need- but sir….I can dare say, I am confident what we have now isn’t passing the high standards-

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Sears? Not that there would be anything wrong with working at Sears.

    Nice screening job Rick. Maybe we should allow Raymond back on. Oh well, I guess it all depends on who is on the receiving end of the pointless, tasteless, attacks.

  18. blah Says:

    I hate being disrepectful to anyone named Jesus Christ- but everything I have read about Todd- I don’t see SEARS being in his resume- But you are all knowing- so I will cede the point to you

  19. Rick Outzen Says:

    “JC” – Keep to facts. Name-calling leads to banishment if it persists.

    Rick Outzen

  20. Floyd Says:

    Tom,

    It’s funny… that’s the name of Todd’s campaign manager!!

    Once again, Tom, you have responded with empty,and incorrect, rhetoric. Unfortunately, I do not have time to rebut all of your foolish comments.

    First, Superintendnet Paul has hired two principals form outside the District over the past year because he did not feel there was a properly qualified candidate for those postions within the system. Go back and find the last time that was done, if you can. Mr. Paul has done way with the “good ol’boy system” and actually holds his employees accounatble for their actions. This is far from the status quo, nor is it tweaking at the margins.

    The following is a quote form Todd’s website “By just about any benchmark, whether it be test scores, student interest, teacher motivation, or disciplined and safe schools, we simply are not measuring up and are failing in our responsibilities to our citizens, particularly our young men and women enrolled in our public schools.” You consider that being supportive of our teachers?? I don’t think so!!

    As for cutting the “gluttenous” positions at the Hall Center, please list just a few of those positions for me, please. Come on, where are the facts?? Once again, it is very apparent that neither you nor Todd have a clue of what you are taling about.

    How is Todd going to hold princiapls accountable? Board mebers do not hold any Ditsrict employee accaounable, they make policy based on recommendations from the superintendent. Todd needs to become familiar with school law before he starts to make these outlandish claims.

    Your comments about having too many deans, guidance counselors, and P.E. teachers once again shows your lack of undrerstanding of the District. Go spend a day in a dean’s office or guidnace department, those folks work their tails off all day every day. The number of P.E. teachers at a school is based on the FTE count, (do you have any idea what that is). Yes, some school may have 6, 7 or 8 P.E. teachers, but they have thousands of kid to teach.

    As for your allegations about social promotion, more rubbish. Quit making empty allegations unless you have some facts.

    The fact of the matter is that the more you respond, the more you show how ignorant Todd and you are when it comes to the local school system

    Everyone is seeing the fact that Tood is in this race to promote his own radical agenda and nothing else. Todd should not try to use the backs of our children as a podium to spew his empty rhetoric.

    The last thing we need now is another devisive school borad member, a la Vanette Webb or Hall Mason.

  21. Floyd Says:

    blah,

    Go back and read my post. I did not say we should lower expectations because we have a large number of poverty level students, I stated that to point out that this district has a much greater challenge then do all of those other “wonderful” districts. I go on to say that Mr. Paul has not allowed his staff to use this as an excuse, but instead has placed much emphasis on these schools. Look at Allie Ynestra and O;J Semmes and their success.

  22. blah Says:

    Floyd-

    I never said that you said “we should lover expectations”- I am saying….using the excuse of a large poverty level is as Gaetz would say ” a soft form of bigorty”.

    Reading your posts, you seem to be an articulate person, one that can reason through rhetoric and come away with a decent logical conclusion- I am leaning on this portion when I explain why I feel you are lowering expectations-

    When I hear the excuse ” Well…we can’t do what Gaetz did because we have many more students in the poverty level then he did ( I have heard this from people, I used to teach in the system), my mind qucikly goes to this- ” oh this person is saying because we have more african americans, we can’t expect to do better”. I find that thought pattern offensive, I know plenty of my friends who are minorities that would run circles around me. And giving a person a crutch because of the color of their skin, is in a sense “bigotry”. Every person who utters those words (or it is their thought process) offends me, because they think that a person who is not white cannot learn…and that my fellow blogger is HORRIBLE-

    I have a question for you, since you seem to be wrapped in our school district- (re: referring to Allie Ynesrta etc) Gaetz has done a FABULOUS job in Okla- there is a video that he has done with the Gov that will be released pretty soon that will champion ideas that he put into motion that have actually worked. He took ( I feel silly in even bringing this up, because I am sure you know this) a district from median level to one of the best in the state. Okaloosa used to fear the day the FCATS scores were released (like we do here) and now it is a “celebration” because the community wants to how good they are, or “will they be number one”. This county is not miles away- it is not in Central Fl- or South Fl-…it is two counties over. My question to you- Why have we not capitalized on those changes? Why are we still fearing this FCAT?

    PS. I have blogged for a while now on different sites- can I give you some advice? Since we can hide behind any name, (yes…Blah is not my real name) trying to call out other people is rather silly (re: “tom” being a campaign manager). First- one should always assume that a person’s name is made up- I assume your name is not “Floyd”- I can live with this- it is the way we in the 21st century operate- If Tom is atually Todd’s campaign manager- and he used his real name…shame on him Sun Tzou would not be happy- Second- this school board race is barely a month old- to already know …A: not only the candidates but B: the players behind them, it tells me one thing- you are “one of the players behind” one of the other people- Gosh, it is evident that “tom” is on Todd’s side, he knows WAY too much about him to be your average joe blow and going back to my earlier commment, it may actually be Todd himself- we don’t know- But for you to know already who Todd’s campaign manager tell me, that you are no longer a person in the system who is concerned with Todd’s ideas- but a political hack. So- instead of me thinking you were average citizen concerned with Todd’s different ideas- I know you work on one of his candidates campaign, and your comments are like “tom’s”, propaganda- Good job- in trying to bluff Tom- you blow your cover….LOL

  23. Floyd Says:

    blah:
    You are still missing the point. Neither did I say anything about lowereing expectations.

    The fact of the matter is that this school system has to deal with a larger number of poverty level students. It is a well proven fact that these kids are starting with a huge disadvantage when it comes to the educational process for a umber of reasons. If you or anyone else wants to try to compare Escambia to Oakloosa or Santa Rosa, this has to be factored in. Plain and simple.

    No excuses, no lowered expectations, just the truth. If you can not get past that premise, then there is no sense in discussing this topic any further.

    As previously stated, this administration has only been up front in saying they have to deal with this challenge and Superintendent Paul has fully accepted this challenge and has made a significant effort to provide these kids the resources they need to be as succesful as our middle-class kids.

    Also, I never mentioned race, only economic status. the fact that you equate poverty with “minorities” is somewhat prejudicial in my view. Trust me, there are plenty “white” kids who recive free and reduced breakfast and lunch due to their families being in the lower economic echelon.

    As for me, not a hack, just someone who cares and makes an effort to know what is going on in this community.

  24. blah Says:

    Floyd-

    You post on the Stidam (sp) blogs as well as todd’s- you most really care or you have other interests pertianing to the two races-

    but back to our discussion-

    As to your assertion of my “prejudicial” comment- I guess I lumped all my previuos conversations into this one- no you did not bring up race- I did- but the last time I talked to someone about this subject, the person did bring up race. I am assumed (wrongly so) that your too were narrow minded to think that as well, and my arguments were geared to that racist thought pattern- I was wrong to accuse you- Please accept my apology-

    So you are wanting me to accept that we have lower levels of income than do OKL and SR? Ok- I factor that in- Now what? Am I supposed to accept that because we do have a higher amount of lower income students than I should quit demanding a higher FCAT? Am I supposed to now think that we in ESC should not expect our students to do better? I am at a lost- what do you want me to think? I have factored in those totals and now I have lowered my expectations. Of course we should not demand higher test scores, it is impossible to hope for the day when our community rallies around the computer, desperately waiting to see our high scores. Yeah, I do like this way of thinking, now I have an excuse to explain our low scores- blame it on the poverty- (insert Gaetz phrase). Now I did read what you wrote that JP has said not to use the high poverty level as a crutch- But…this seems to be all you have talked about, it seems you need to listen more to your boss.

    Oh…yeah I did say boss. how do I know? You asked me to trust you that plenty of white kids get free lunches? Who knows those facts? I would think only people in admin would know enough about that to state facts

  25. Floyd Says:

    The apology was not necessary, but thanks anyway.

    I will try one more time to get to the point. If you are going to compare us to Okaloosa, then you have to realize this county is starting the race with a car that carries more weight and has has less horsepower. Therefor, it wil take us longer to get from 0 to 60 in our 6 cylinder sedan than it will for Mr. Gaetz’s 8 cylinder Jaguar, (maybe not the best anaolgy, but it works for now).

    Is it this district’s intention to get to 60 just like Gaetz, you bet, and it will get there, but it may take a little longer and we are going to have to work harder.

    The point is that Mr. Paul’s goals are the same, but he has not been dealt the same hand as has Gaetz. Once again, no excuses and no lower expectations, just the facts.

    I don’t exepect anyone to lower their expectations re: FCAT. As a matter of fact, Mr. Paul said that he will set the bar higher, he will not accept failure or mediocrity.

    But, I have digressed in my discussion with you, even though it has been interesting.

    The fact is that Todd Leonard has no idea what is happening in the District. Todd has no faith in the District or its employees. It is more than apprent that he belives he is going to ride in on a white stallion and save us all and shove his Vanette Webb/Hal Mason ideology down our kid’s throats. That scares me, not religiously, but in regard to the fact that he is going to move us back to the situation we were in a couple of years ago.

    For too many years this community had to suffer the negative repurcusions of the divsiseness and and inefficiency of Webb, Mason, DeWitt, Finklestein and Stidham.

    We now have 4 logical and even tempered board members, plus Stidham. Things have improved immensely in regard to the ability for the Superintendent to work with the board in moving the District forward since DeWitt and Finklestein were booted out.

    It is very likely Stidham will be gone after the Sept. 5 election and replaced with a more competetnt individual.

    If we end up with Todd on the board, he will just be a hinderance in the process to improve our schools with his focus on Intelligent Design and renaming Winter Break to to Christmas Holiday. Oh yeah, and he wants to make sure our football teams improve. Not what I call an enthralling agenda.

    Everything else he lists on his web-site is already being addressed by the administration and our schools. So, with the exception of Inetlligent Deisgn, Christams Break, and improving football, he offers nothing new.

    As for my knowledge of the schools in Escambia, the information I refer to is easily accessed via a number of sources. You don’t have to be an employee of the system to know the facts, as you seem to. If it makes you feel better to think I work in a school, that’s fine.

    And by the way, my name is Floyd.

    Have a good one.

  26. blah Says:

    Floyd-

    I don’t think you work in a school- I thnk you work for the Admin- you were willing for me to believe the school- but I have never assumed this.

    I can accept facts- I know some people are dealt easier hands- but to say that Gaetz had it easier- Ask him that- ask him how easy it was to fight the teacher’s union, I am sure his tune would be different.

    I don’t know enough about Todd to conclude what you have about him- but you did mention that other than the three things, he offers nothing new. Should something new be offered? I thought the schools were great as could be expected? now I am confused- First you tell me, our schools are the way they are because of poverty levels and nothing can change that- now…you say someone has to offer something new to be legit- Man, stop this train, I am getting dizzy here-

    So- you are saying…that changing the name from Winter Break back to Christmas Break will be divisive…in conservative Pcola????? I careless on what we name it, but your assumption is a little off base-

    As for ID- – .if you are worried about Todd “shoving his Vanette Webb/Hal Mason idealoge down our throats”, I used to teach in the schools, i pretty sure that ID is already in our biology books. You further conclude that ID will be a hinderance to improving our schools- maybe that is the posion pill- maybe ID being in our biology textbooks is why we are behind in FCAT scores

    Football- no comment

  27. tom Says:

    And that is my real name. No, I’m not Todd’s campaign manager, nor do I think that was what you were saying. I think you were saying the “JC”, meaning Jesus Christ I presume, is Todd’s campaign manager. Very funny. I imagine that Todd would say that Christ and a Christian worldview inform his every pursuit. So, in that sense, I guess you are correct.

    As for my foolish comments, I am no outsider. I’ve seen first hand what is going on in our schools.

    Additionally, I voted for Mr. Paul. I am pleased that we’ve made progress. I am happy that he has hired principals from outside the district who are qualified. But, he needs bold support and a new visionary voice to help him take our schools to the next level.

    And, I’m sorry, are you saying that there is no room to streamline our administration? Certainly, there is more that can and should be done. Am I an expert on the Hall Center? No. But, I know that it doesn’t take 10-15 people to direct you to the proper place to take finger prints. Every position doesn’t need its own assistant. And are you telling me that the principal and assistant principals can’t take on some of the disciplinary issues that it is taking two or more deans to do? Hogwash!

    Did you watch the WSRE program the other night which featured a call in with 3 local superintendants? It is apparent that Gaetz is involved with his schools to a much greater degree than MR. Paul. It is apparent that he expects more out of his principals.

    That being said, Mr. Leonard is not running against Mr. Paul. He intends to help speed Mr. Paul along in making tough decisions and sticking to them.

    Your incessant comparisons of Hal Mason and Vannette Webb to Todd Leonard are ridiculous. For you to suggest that Todd is some kind of half crazed fanatic shows that you know nothing about Mr. Leonard. Will he stick to a conservative Christian worldview, you bet. Does that mean that he is not level headed? Of course not. If you would have interviewed any of the founding Fathers, I dare say you would not have voted for them either. They would have been bringing a “far-right” Christian agenda to the table.

    Do you know Todd (Rhetorical question)? It is obvious that you do not.

    Do you really think that Mr. Bergosh or Mr. Waters will do a better job? If so, vote for your man.

    I was born in Mississippi, like Rick Outzen, and while I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, I know who’s responsibility it is to hold principals accountable. However, you make it sound as if the board is nothing more than symbolic and holds no real power or influence? If that is the case, why are you so concerned about Mr. Leonard?

    What is so wrong with wanting to see Intelligent Design address in our classrooms?

    I’m sure that you are aware of this already, given your vast knowledge of our system (commendable indeed), but, “Intelligent Design” is mentioned in our new science text books this year. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Mr. Paul answered a caller, who presumed that it was not being taught or mentioned in Escambia, by correcting the caller with this little tidbit. He seemed supportive of its being taught in his comments to the caller. But, a mere mentioning that “some people adhere to intelligent design” is hardly the same as explaining I.D. By the way, Mr. Gaetz was much more bold in his affirming the inclusion of intelligent design.

    A fool for Christ,

    Tom

  28. Floyd Says:

    Like I said earlier, I have digressed by responding to your posts. You have a knack to take each response and divert it to another angle, without sticking with the initial issue.

    Now I understand where the “blah” originates.

    Enjoy your blogging.

  29. tom Says:

    Floyd, earlier you said,

    “Is it this district’s intention to get to 60 just like Gaetz, you bet,…and we are going to have to work harder.”

    We are in total agreement here. I think that this is all that Todd is saying.

    Tom

  30. Floyd Says:

    Tom:

    You are to be commended for being such an ardent supporter of Todd. By the way, the JC reference was not from me.

    10 to 15 people at the Hall Center to direct you on where to be fingerprinted? Please tell me where these folks are hidden, because I have not seen them. There is usually a light-duty employee or student at the main entrance to act as a “recptionist. Beyond that, I must be missing something.

    Oh, and by the way, they outsourced the fingerprinting operation that was located at the Hall Center a few months back. Don’t look now, but there is some more efficiency!!

    As for the principals and assistant principals taking on additional disciplinary duties, you are just showing that you don’t understand the real world in our schools. Both they and the deans work tirelessly to do what they need to do. To reduce the number of deans would move us back in the wrong direction. Under Mr. Paul, expulsions are down significantly, and the graduation rates have increased. You have to have the resources, i.e. people, to work with the kids, or else you just end up suspendeding them or expelling them. There is more to discipline than kicking kidds out of school onto the streets.

    Sorry about the Webb/Mason comparison, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like one, it usually is a duck.

    Oh, and the comparison to our founding fathers, let’s not even go there.

    Todd may be a nice guy, but it’s clear he has no faith in our schools or teachers. Have him enroll his kids in the public school system and then we can talk more seriously. Until then, let him stick to selling class rings and books.

  31. Jim Says:

    Floyd-
    If you are truly who you say you are –“Floyd” and “just someone who cares and makes an effort to know what is going on in this community” may I make a suggestion to you? Instead of wasting your time “blogging” and making assumptions and generalizations (wrong assumptions, I might add) about Todd and the other bloggers, why don’t you stay on focus? You have three candidates running for the School Board District 1 seat…..Todd Leonard, Jeff Bergosh (who, may I say has lived in this county less than two years-how can be possibly be informed on the issues/history/experience of the education system in our county?) and Doug Waters. Contact each candidate directly, ask them/dialogue with them in detail about their positions (the information on their websites are mere summaries and are not in depth explanations) and THEN make your choice on who you believe is the best viable candidate for the job is. And, stop bad mouthing candidates-your opinion, is just that, your opinion (which by the way, I have no idea what it is based on-but I definitely know it isn’t based on personal experience or contact with Todd directly- because your opinions and assumptions about Todd could not be further from the truth-you have obviously never talked to him directly). With all due respect, you do not sound like a concerned citizen, you sound like a person with an agenda to bad mouth a candidate you do not know.
    Here is how you can reach each candidate directly:
    Todd Leonard – tcleonard@cox.net, 572-7669, 941-4292
    Jeff Bergosh – jbergosh@bellsouth.net, 293-1459, 944-5296
    Doug Waters- dougcwaters@aol.com, 380-2083.

    By the way, Jeff’s brother, Gary, did not have any children in the school system throughout his tenure on the board. Did that disqualify him? Certainly not. Your reasoning is flawed and baseless.

    Jim

  32. Floyd Says:

    Jim:

    Take a deep breath buddy, this is just part of the political process. It’s not bad-mouthing, it is, as you state, just stating my opinion based on what I have observed about Todd. You do not necessarily have to agree with it.

    Actually, I believe Jeff and his family moved back to the area more than two years ago, although I am not positive on the exact date. However long it has been, they have been actively involved in the school system to help make it better through the PTA and other similar activities. As a matter of fact, Jeff’s wife Sally is a past president of the Beulah PTA and is the current vice-president.

    In addition, Jeff graduated from Pensacola High School, as did Todd. After graduation, he went out of state to attend college, as did Todd, but eventually returned to Pensacola.

    You are correct, Gary did not have a child in the school system, until this year, as his son is now old enough to start school. However, his wife has taught for the district for a number of years.

    The fact that he did not have a child old enough to attend is completely different than Todd choosing to send his kids to private school.

    Also, it is not an assumption that Todd has slammed our schools and teachers… it’s on the home page of his web site. If that is not Todd’s opinion, but that of an advisor or consultant, then he needs to change it.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.

  33. blah Says:

    floyd-

    My original point was that our test scores are lower then Okl and that we need to improve. Your response has continually been- ” poverty level” – Although from my understanding, this is not an excuse, but it seems to be the only answer you give, so forgive me for changing issue, I am trying to get other answers instead of the default one- I guess this problem is too big to handle, so maybe we should be happy with our gains….except that stupid Gaetz comment “lower expectations is a soft form of bigotry” , what are we to do about that?

  34. Jim Says:

    Floyd:

    Thanks for finally showing your true colors. Have enough integrity to admit that you are a Bergosh fan! Those of us supporting Todd have enough integrity and honesty to admit it and we have not spent excessive amounts of energy spewing inaccuracies about your guy. We are talking issues; you are spewing rhetoric, which is the last gasp of a desperate man!

    As to your points, Let me quote Jeff’s website:

    “Our school Board needs a reasoned, calm individual, with children in the district schools and therefore a vested interest in our public schools…”

    “Our school board does not need someone who has had absolutely no involvement in district 1 public schools…”

    Again, by Jeff’s own criteria, his brother would not have been qualified to serve on the board until this year. This is so juvenile that it hardly deserves commenting on. Todd has chosen to give his children explicit christian education, as have many teachers who teach in the public school system in Escambia County at this very moment. Are they not qualified? Do they not care about education? Are they not committed to making our schools better? Will Jeff, if elected, question their commitment?

    Todd has spent the last eleven years helping and contributing to make our schools a better place. Todd has worked with administrators throughout AL and FL for eleven years and has a thorough insight into public schools. With all due respect, one to two years as PTA President/Vice President hardly qualifies one for the office. In addition, Todd has lived in this community for thirty out of thirty seven years. I think Jeff has been gone since 1988 and only returned to our community less than two years ago based on information on his website.

    Finally, Todd has great respect for Jim Paul and the vast number of teachers in Escambia County. He has made it known to all that he stands ready to work with him to pass bold initiatives and to make our schools better. He simply feels that the system needs bolder reform than the past several years have given us.

    One last piece of advice: You would do your candidate a bigger favor if you actually talked about what he is for rather than trying to make Todd the issue.

    Jim

  35. Hannah Says:

    Who hires consultants for a School Board race Floyd?

    I think it is a pretty clear cut race, and a rather small population to get to vote for you (reading this blog makes me think it’s pretty hot, but I just stumbled on this by way of Google no one around town seems to be concerned). I’d hope the winner of this race really knows the issues and is informed on what the voters want and schools need — leave the consultants to the politicians.

    Floyd, Jim, ‘Blah’, Tom, you guys are having too much fun. With all your passion, I hope you just don’t debate studies and ideas, maybe someone will get elected out of all this and actually do something — Escambia may not be on the bottom — but who aims for that anyways, we have a long road ahead.

  36. Floyd Says:

    Jim:

    So much drama and hostility! We are just discussing politics here.

    You are the one who brought up the Jeff and Gary Bergosh, I only responded to what uou posted.

    Just because Todd sold class rings and text books, it does not make him an expert in education. Once again, I will point out that based on his web site, he does not understand how the school system runs, plain and simple.

    As for Jeff’s statement about having kids in public schools, I belive if you check his web site, that point is made in reference to the fact Todd has chosen to place his children in private school.

    And once again, I will point out that Gary’s wife taught at Blue Angels for a number of years, which happens to be in District 1. Plus his intent has oalways been to have his son attend public school.

    Am I a Bergosh supporter, heck yes, you caught me!!

    Bergosh’s qualifications:
    – The only candidate with post secondary studies in education
    – The only candidate with classroom teaching experience
    – The only candidate who has been, and still is, a succesful businessman
    – The only candidate with experience in facilities management
    – The only candidate with children in public schools, so when he makes a decision as a board member, it will affect his children as it will the approximately 43,000 other kids in our schools, (sorry, I know that one bugs you)

    Thanks for the advise. Have a good evening.

  37. Jim Says:

    Floyd-
    I will go back to my original point-pick up the phone and talk to Todd directly about the issues as others have already begun to do-then you will see that your “observations” are completely inaccurate.
    Todd would love to discuss/debate the issues with you or anyone else, including his opponents.
    Jim

  38. Richard Says:

    Good evening all. Today went well. I think we are ready for the kids to come into our rooms tomorrow. I think it will be a great year. A few of us did get together over lunch and looked over Todd’s website. We discovered a number of inaccuracies. I trust Todd will accept our remarks in good spirit. We mean no disrespect. We are Christians and feel we should encourage our brothers in Christ to be a good example and do all that we can to present the truth. We are also Escambia County educators and wonder why Todd doesn’t recognize what we have done for the students of Escambia County just as he recognizes what the teachers in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa have done.

  39. Richard Says:

    OK, the first thing we all noticed was the comment Todd makes with regards to declining enrollment. Yes Sir, we have declined in enrollment. After Hurricane Ivan hundreds of families moved away. However, prior to that we were experiencing increased enrollment. After years of decline we were at last increasing our student population. Todd implies that we are decling enrollment because of poor schools and a lack of public confidence. He also suggests that Santa Rosa County schools are increasing in enrollment. The fact is ( as Superintendent Rogers stated on TV last Friday night) Santa Rosa’s school district has experienced a serious decline in enrollment (400 last year and a projected 200 decrease this year) Please correct that Todd. It is just not true. The next point we would l;ike you to consider has to do with student achievement, You state that by “any benchmark” we trail our neighbors. Todd, I am sorry brother but that is far from the truth. In the humanities, Escambia County has beaten our neighbors for many years. For the past eight years, Escambia County schools have sent more teams to the state championship history fair than any school in Florida and has sent more winners to the national fair to represent the state of Florida. Please sir make the appropriate corrections on your web site. All we ask is that you recognize the achievements that our students have made. They work so hard.

  40. Richard Says:

    Ok, Believe it or not I have a little more work to do to prepare for the kids tomorrow. I have time for one more comment. Back to Todd’s ” by any benchmark… ” comment. Last year the Escambia County Scholars Bowl team brought home the state championship trophy. They won for the fourth time in seven years. Two of the other times they took second place. Our team competed against school districts five to nine times larger than we are. Okaloosa has never ever won or even gotten into the top five. Please sir, correct that statement. There are many benchmarks in which we far surpass Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County. If you don’t mind we have a few other inaccuracies. However, we all have need to get back to work. Our students come back tomorrow.

  41. Tom Says:

    Brothers, as someone who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, let me say how pleased I am that you have committed yourself to training up our kids!

    It appears that all is well in Escambia County Schools. No new vision, no reform, and no changes are needed. Lets just keep on doing what we are doing and we’ll catch up to the others eventually. Or, maybe we are already equal to our neighbors and, in fact, maybe we are surpassing them! If our history fairs and scholars bowl successes should be considered as “benchmark[s]”, then we are exceeding the others. I’m sure Mr. Leonard will gladly recant. However, Mr. Leonard defines what he means by the word “benchmark” if you take his quote in context; and, brothers, we know how dangerous it is to take a verse out of context :>)

    Here is Mr. Leonard’s statement in context:

    “By just about any benchmark, whether it be TEST SCORES, STUDENT INTEREST, TEACHER MOTIVATION, or DISCIPLINED AND SAFE SCHOOLS, we simply are not measuring up [to these other counties] and are failing in our responsibilities to our citizens, particularly our young men and women enrolled in our public schools.” (EMPHASIS ADDED)

    Now, it is apparent that Mr. Leonard believes that we are lagging behind out two sister counties in the panhandle. Is he misinformed? Well if you measure it by scholar bowls and the like, yes, he is. But, if you apply his own definition of “benchmark”,
    then the facts are quite different. While we showed substantial improvement over last year, we are still lagging behind our neighbors in all the categories he mentions. That doesn’t mean there are no bright spots. As you are right to point out, there are many bright spots. Happily, Many schools made gains this year. However, just because we made gains it does’t change the fact that we are lagging behind our sister counties. Certainly we are still lagging behind in reading, wouldn’t you agree? And how about Math, how are we doing there? Science? I’d be interested to see how our numbers as a whole measure up. Have we made progress? Yes, I’m certain that we have. Maybe your future posts will address these areas.

    How about teacher motivation? I can tell you that most, if not all, of the teachers that I know, dream of an “Okaloosa” type environment. Admit it guys, Mr. Gaetz has done a remarkable job. There is no room for jealousy or excuses. Lets put a team together, send them over and find out how we can improve. Did you notice that Mr. Gaetz praised the reading program of Santa Rosa, and actually admitted to seeking assitance and advice from them in this area (by the way, neither of the other Supers admitted doing anything like that). The result of the consultation was a dramatic improvement in reading scores for OKL.

    No one is blaming our teachers. Mr. Gaetz did not blame his teachers. He found out what was working for SR and implemented it in OKL. We shouldn’t be trying to one up OKL and SR, we should immulate Gaetz’s humble approach and ask for help. I don’t blame my friends who are leaving Esc. for SR and OKL. I wish them the best. However, their departures are indicative of a problem in ESC whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not. And while pay is a pivotal issue, it is not the only issue. Of course we’ve made improvements, but, we need serious change if we are going to catch up.

    And now for decline in Enrollment:

    “…our Educational System in Escambia County is in need of substantive and large scale reform. While surrounding systems such as Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Baldwin County continue to experience growth in student population, Escambia has been plateaued at best and declining at worst.”

    You are correct in stating that Santa Rosa is now projecting a decrease rather than an increase. Mr. Rogers confessed that, previously, they had projected gains this year. But, in fact, as you witnessed the other night, he now anticipates a decline. Mr. Leonard may have been relying on that previous projection. If I were him, I would wait until school begins, and if it appears that Mr. Rogers is correct about the new figures, then I would correct my “inaccuracy.” As far as last year is concerned, you have already addressed last year’s losses as being attributable to the Hurricanes…an obvious anomally. Mr. Leonard is addressing the pattern of growth and decline. I’m sure he will recant if this year’s numbers don’t confirm his comments. However, whether or not they decline, SR’s schools consistently out perform Escambia Schools and teachers make a good deal more money.

    Context and honesty are so very important. Mr. Leonard is on the side of teachers. The fact that he recognizes that they ought to be paid more and be given more academic freedom in the classroom underscores his support. He understands that if they are to get the pay they deserve (which is an amount that is at least equal to our neighbors) that there must be a serious streamlining of our system. It will not be easy. It may even be painful. But, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it can and must be done.

    Mr. Leonard’s statement bemoans the system that is in place…NOT THE TEACHERS. It might help if you take off your defensive lenses and give it another look, you’ll see it a bit differently this time I think. Teachers don’t create the system, they function within the system created for them. Ask the teachers in Okaloosa if they are glad that Mr. Gaetz had the courage to make large scale and substantive change. Listen, when the school super visits with a single mother at a Waffle house to hear her complaints (because she had such an early report time to work and could not make it to school for an appt), when he rides the school bus routes on the first days of school, when he gives $2000 vouchers to failing students, when he closes a huge warehouse and goes to an “as needed” system, when he creates a place for home schoolers to come together and even offers to supply them a teacher, and when he makes social promotion illegal, you know real change is going to occur. Guys, aren’t these things attractive? The results speak for themselves. Rather than try and one up the folks in SR and OKL, lets see if we can learn something from them.

    Its going to take courage. Are you guys up for the challenge?

    God bless you guys. I for one am looking forward to the continued dialogue. Give Mr. Leonard a call if you’d like. I’m sure he’d welcome the chance to sit down and talk to you. I’m sure he’ll learn from you. You may even find that you like him. Who knows, you may even decide to support his candidacy!

    Good night all. The family is waiting for me to say prayers, read with them and call it and call it a night.

    Tom

  42. Joe (the original) Says:

    I finally figured out why Outzen is so dead-set against Todd and in favor of Jeff. BOTH Gary and Jeff Bergosh take out nice BIG ads in his mullet wrapper (IN Vol 6, No. 34, AUg 24). Makes good business sense to me – to talk good about those who throw some money your way and bad about those who don’t. In other words, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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