The Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club hosted a meet the democratic school board candidates’ night on July 5, 2012. I have a problem with both the Democratic Clubs and Republican Clubs excluding candidates from speaking to their membership in a non-partisan race. Just my opinion, however, it is an opinion shared by many both democrats and republicans alike. So, let’s get to the impression I have the candidates that attend the gathering. I also thought the canned question asked by the CS/P Democratic Club was not designed to really let any candidate tell the group why they were running for School Board. It was a format unintentionally designed for the candidates to crash and burn.

Robin Bartleman ( disclosure I am a Bartleman supporter) Me too, Jeanne
Mrs. Bartleman began by listing the recent accomplishments of the School Board including to the following:
· strong ethics policies
· hiring 650 new teachers
· believes in educating the whole child
· actively engaged in ESE issues
· bringing back Art, Music, PE and Media specialists
· working on black male graduation rates.
· Working with the State’s Attorney’s office to enact an agreement that will keep kids out of the juvenile justice system for minor offices.
· Built a the budget around schools needs
· Very accessible
Like many of us whose children grow up and advance through the school system, her understanding of secondary educational issues is growing and maturing. Some time you have to live it to understand it and now she is.
Dr. Barbara Wilson
Dr. Wilson failed to show up on Thursday. Since she is a democrat, I believe she was fully able to speak and discuss her platform. She has run twice for school board and applied for an appointment to replace Beverly Gallagher. I would have liked to have heard her ideas and why she is running for school board. I do try and keep an open mind. It makes me wonder if she is serious about representing everyone in an at large seat. She is Mrs. Bartleman’s opponent.
Franklin Sands
In discussing his reasons and ideas for running against Donna Korn, he highlights his experience as a legislator and policy maker. Here are some of his key ideas:
· want assessable education for all students
· believes he can represent the interests of the entire district, including the eastern part of the county.
· wants to see that every student has the tools they need to succeed
· He touted his experience on the Facilitates Task Force and the development of Tools for School mold abatement program.
· He talks a bit about investing in education which is less expensive than the alternative which is the school to prison pipeline.
· Wants the End of Course exams to be a percentage of a student’s grade not the high stake credit conferring test it is going to be.
A little troubling for me is the lack of how. I know it is difficult in 5 minutes to outline everything a candidate wants to say. If this is the only time a person is going to hear a candidate speak then the candidate needs to make it count. I would have liked to have heard more about how he sees the district attracting “the best” teachers and his thoughts on keeping class sizes low. In addition I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on partnerships in the community that would benefits students. That is part of his platform, which is what parents who he wishes to represent want to hear. Franklin Sands is running against currently appointed school board member Donna Korn.
Perhaps in the future a note to the partisan clubs: attendees are capable of reading the materials the candidates have provided, what is wanted is the philosophy and the initiatives a candidates wants to see while a School Board member.
District 4 Candidates
My overall impression of the night was twofold: the format didn’t serve candidates well at all and everyone seems to have a bit of an off night. Some seem to be able to stay on message or get back on message after being ask background questions and the one fundamental question: why do you want to be a school board member.
 Shelly Solomon
Ms Solomon has been meeting people all over District 4 according to reports I have been getting. In her speech to the Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club she was the only candidate to make the statement that she intended to represent all of District 4, not just certain cities found within the District. Ms Solomon believes she is ready to “go to work on day one” and like Mrs. Bartleman she wants to be accessible to everyone in District 4. Shelly touts her policy making experience and her service with the anti-bullying task force. However, she does have extensive community participation as well. She listed several initiatives she would like to sheppard should she be elected to the School Board.
· Provide every student with rigorous, relevant coursework
· have the district provide fair and just compensation for District employees
· champion a safe school environment
I know Ms. Solomon personally. I worked with her when she was active in the North Area Advisory Council. Ms Solomon has four children in Broward public school system and having volunteered knows the schools of District 4. She is smart, thoughtful and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She also understands the role of a School Board member. This helps in adjusting expectations if elected. If you are at a community event in which the District 4 candidates are in attendance go talk to Ms. Solomon about what your concerns. I think you will like what you hear.
Nick Steffins
I honestly do not know why he is running for the School Board. He isn’t found where parents are and his strategy seems to be court the known voters, most of whom do not have children in school. In his speech he talked a lot about the union and being the son of a union member as if that somehow that qualifies him to be a school board member. He is running on an old platform that remarkably mirrors that of Jamei Levine. What he did demonstrate was that he has no real idea what the role of a school board member is. He says he wants to communicate regularly with parents and students, then why haven’t we seen this guy since 2010 election our across District 4? One more thing, I find it ironic that he is running on an “end corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse in Broward Schools” yet he has his own ethical troubles having been suspended from the practice of law by the Florida Bar for 10 days. While I agree anyone can have a lapse in judgment, but if you don’t have clean hands ethically then one shouldn’t be pointing fingers at anyone.
The only thing of substance he did talk briefly about was the SRO issue. He is for them, and apparently beefing up SIU. Not one mention of any real issues facing students or teachers. So, I ask again why he wants to be a school board member.
Abby Freedman
A parent of three boys who attend District 4 schools, she decided she can make a difference in the lives of kids by being a school board member. She is well-educated, articulate, and smart but a bit aggressive in her approach but I find her likable. She was all over the place in her speech and if she has educational issues she wants to champion, then she really needs to tighten up her message. Here’s what I gathered:
· insure that all kids academic needs are met
· hates end of course exams
I had an extensive conversation with her about Go Math after the meeting adjourned. She really needs to understand the textbook adoption process before maintaining that there is something nefarious going on in the school district regarding textbooks. My suggestion to her would be get active in the PTA or Advisory and ask to be appointed as a parent representative to the textbook adoption screening committee. She is another candidate who is going to have a frustrating learning curve, if elected, because she doesn’t quite understand the role of a school board member. She is smart and could easily learn quickly but the aggressiveness of her manner (which I am sure served her well in the Pentagon) may be off-putting to parents she first comes in contact with. She could be a viable school board member with a lot of hand holding. Something worth noting is that Mrs. Freedman is financing her own campaign.
Robert Mayersohn
Mr. Mayersohn is the only District 4 candidate that has stayed involved with everything after his loss in the 2010 primary. He was active at his son’s schools and in various community and district organizations and is the only candidate currently serving on school district policy committees. He walked the district getting signatures to petition his way onto the ballot. He calls himself the people’s candidate and I say rightly so. Like Ms, Solomon, Mr. Mayersohn, can hit the ground running on day one if elected. Robert had some intriguing ideas:
· Cost out the real dollars to educate a student in Broward and present the State with the bill.
· Have a meet and release clause in every RFP that would allow the district to be released from a contract because of non-performance by a vendor.
(Full Disclosure) I have worked the Robert Mayersohn for three years, two being District Advisory Council Chair and one being immediate past chair. So I am familiar with Robert’s passion for students and their education. He has been in the trenches advocating for fair treatment of students, both ESE and non-ESE, he understands the emerging educational issues that will be coming from the Common Core standards and he, like Shelly, does quite a bit of reading and research on the trends in education, diversity and what is successfully moving student learning forward. He also has the temperament to take a stand when he needs to and be a facilitator when warranted.
It would have been nice to hear from Andrew Landowski, Louis Kushner and Donna Korn.
Rumor has it that there may be a school board candidate’s forum on August 1st, As soon as I have confirmation, I will post the information.
There are six candidates in the District 4 race for School Board. Stay tuned for updates as I have then.
If you hear of a candidate speaking to a club or organization give me a call. The next six weeks these candidates have an opportunity to tighten up their message and really reach out to as many voters who actually have kids in school as possible.
Jeanne Jusevic
Educational Activist at large