August 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First of all, I want  to thank everyone who got involved in my campaign.  It was certainly a learning experience.  I am proud of the message we tried to share and I continue to be concerned about the message(s) that seemed to be the theme of all of the other candidates (not just the candidates in the District #2 race).  I always came to the community with the premise that right makes might.  I learned that I am wrong!  It seems might (financial support and organizational support) makes right.  This is not to say (and I am not saying!) that any candidate was exercising any model or strategy that was wrong or inappropriate – what I am asking is: what did (any of) the candidates stand for.  Is the issue honesty and transparency?  Shouldn’t that be a given?  Can you measure it by bagel breakfasts, neighborhood walking, descending on voters as they walk to the polls (I am guilty too).  Honesty, trust, reliability, transparency are virtues that should be the standard. If they are the standard, then the populace has the opportunity to ask real questions about the status of education in America today.  Those questions include:  Do our assessments tell us anything?  Are we preparing our children for post secondary education and career opportunities?  How much time do the state unfunded mandates take away from the teaching and learning calendar annually?  What entitles elected legislators to make educational decisions?  Does school look the way it should to provide for unique learning styles and academic needs?  What is our pedagogy?  And Why?  What is a student?  Does the Teachers’ Union truly reflect the voice of the teachers?  Should we give each student a computer and let them take classes from home ( close school buildings and save all air conditioning and transportation costs)?  What is the impact of the Charter School movement and what does it mean for the future of education in America?  Should we transition to year-round schooling?  How do we insure well -rounded curriculum for our children (including full exposure to the arts, physical education and other specials)?  What has been the impact of the diminishing guidance staff and services available?  Where are the SROs?  What is bullying?  Where are the lost students?  What is the plan to serve the most fragile group of learners?  These – and more -questions need to be addressed.  Listen to a Board Meeting – are these issues the ones that are addressed?  If they are discussed, do they get the bulk of discussion time?  Do they bring them to resolution? What are parents saying when they take their children to Charter Schools?  What can be done – if anything – to reverse this trend (20,000+ students in Charter Schools in Broward County)?  Does the Board have a follow-up procedure that truly informs them of the consequences (intended or unintended) of their decisions?

I was doing a mental recap of the population in District #2.  According to the 2006 census, Cooper City had approximately 30,000 residents, Miramar 108,000, and Pembroke Pines 150,000.  Subtracting the nearly 30% of the population that is under 18, leaves an aggregate of roughly 200,000 residents.  Approximately 20,000 residents voted in the Tuesday primary.  It is truly astounding that we let 10% of our district’s population determine the direction that our School Board  Member (regardless of who it is) will take.  The rough math I presented suggests that we have more than 100,000 school age children.  Is this minimal turnout clear documentation of might makes right?

I welcome your thoughts and responses (if you are interested) and I encourage your suggestion as to what you think I should do to continue to raise these questions (and others).



August 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Broward School Board Set For Big Changes In Nov.

Joan Murray


Between a bruising budget battle, teacher layoffs and corruption; the Broward County School Board has drawn a lot of unwanted attention in the last year. As the August 24th primary approaches, change is in the air.

Six out of nine seats are up on the Broward School Board. Longtime school board membersStephanie Kraft and Bob Parks decided not to seek re-election.

Six candidates are hoping to replace Kraft in district four. They are Jaemi Levine, Penny M. Madden, Robert Alan Mayersohn, Donald Samuels, Robert W. Sutton and David Thomas.

In district seven, four people are hoping to fill Parks’s old seat. They are Russell Kaufman, Jim Lansing, Nora Rupert and Travis Williamson.

Board incumbents Jennifer Gottlieb, Phyllis Hope, Ann Murray and Kevin Tynan all have challengers.

Tynan was appointed to his district two seat when disgraced board member Beverly Gallagher was arrested on federal corruption charges last fall.

“Until everyone gets cleared, there’s gonna be a cloud hanging over the board,” says Tynan. That’s why Tynan supports a new ethics code that would shed a light on lobbyists. “It’s an appearance question and it ought to end,” Tynan said.

He’s for cutting waste and so is one of his challengers, Patti Good.

Good is no stranger to politics. She once challenged Beverly Gallagher and lost.

“I care about public education. I’m a parent and I want to restore public trust and accountability with our tax dollars,” said Good.

Good says her business know-how comes from working 23 years in the Miami-Dade school district. She wants to build on the ties between the board and local communities.

“The community is fractured and these are people who know what is going on in schools,” said Good.

The third challenger for District 2 is Joel L. Smith. Smith says his philosophy is simply, “It’s about the kids.”

A lifelong educator who once ran the district’s dropout prevention program, Smith believes in preparing students for life.

“Twenty-first century skills demand problem solving, communication skills, working together. We are testing our kids to death and it’s not the answer,” Smith said. “I think we need to look at a four day week, extended day, year round schools and as unpopular as it may be do we have kids in the right seats?”

In District One incumbent Ann Murray is being challenged by Rebecca Horner. In District 6, incumbent Phyllis Hope is facing challengers Laurie Levinson, Melvin Propis, and Lynn Simon. In District 8, Jennifer Gottlieb is being challenged by Susan Madori and Nick Sakhnovsky.

If no one candidate gets fifty percent of the vote plus one in the primary, the top two vote-getters in District 2, District 4, District 6, District 7 and District 8 will advance to the November general election


August 14, 2010 at 2:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am very proud to share with you that I just received a telephone call informing me that the Broward Principal’s & Assistants Association has endorsed me in the race for the District #2 (Cooper City, Miramar, Pembroke Pines & Part of Southwest Ranches) School Board Seat. This is very meaningful to me (and I hope to you) as they are the academic leaders in our community.

My responses to question posed by BCAHPED

August 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  1. What steps will you take to ensure quality physical education in Broward Schools? I believe that all students should have a well rounded educational experience, mental. Physical and socio-emotional.  I worked alongside the Commmit2bfit program, particularly in the Boyd Anderson Zone.  I have reviewed quite a bit of current research aligning appropriate healthy lifestyle decision-making with community well-being and reduction of inappropriate or violent behavior in communities.  I think physical education, along with the Arts and other ‘specials’ are critical to the positive growth and educational experience of our youth.  I am absolutely open to dialogue on how we can insure this happening for our students.
  2. What would you propose to raise the quality of physical education in Broward County?  Please ‘educate’ me as to the organization’s position on how to raise the quality of physical education in our county.  You are the experts – I am the person to analyze the expert’s proposal and attempt to provide support.  I certainly believe that a rigorous curriculum aligned with passionate teachers is critical to the effort.
  3. A large percentage of elementary Physical Education programs have been cut or reduced to 50 percent. What would you propose to correct this travesty?  As I have said many times, we need to – as a county – determine what are teaching and learning strategies are…..what are the commitments we intend to make for our students…what are the expected outcomes of those compacts….and them –as leaders – do everything we can do to ‘draw a line in the sand’ that represents that stand we will take to insure that our convictions are real and not simply hollow words.  One way to do that is to first build the teaching and learning strategy and then budget to it, rather building a business budget and teaching and learning with the dollars that happen to be left over.


August 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I hope that everyone is having a great day.  I am learning so very much about politics.  I have now become a bureaucrat!  In addition to many facts being portrayed incorrectly, it is apparently  a negative thing to understand the culture of Broward County Public Schools.  If I did not understand the culture, how would I have accomplished what I did?  I promise to you that I WILL NEVER RESORT TO NEGATIVE TACTICS.  If I win I will win based on what I offer to our children  –  not on false information or character traits that I consider contenptable. 

On a more positive note, one of my supporters distributed the following: ”

  Hello everyone,

Those of you that know me know that I don’t usually get involved in the political arena but…..with all that has been going on within our school system and School Board, I felt compelled to educate myself a little more this time around.  I have had the opportunity to see all 3 candidates for District 2, those being Patti Good, Kevin Tynan and Joel Smith. 

I am personally choosing to endorse Joel Smith.  It is my opinion that when he speaks, it is really from the heart and that all of his intentions are always in consideration of what is best for the kids!  He is not running for this position as a stepping stone to greater political aspirations or to better a specific part of the school system….he is there for what is best for the children! 

 The system is in a big mess and it is going to take years to get out of it but, I think a good start is to vote in some people who really seem to care about kids! New faces with new ideas! 

Attached are 2 fliers with opportunities to meet the candidates.  Obviously, this email is my opinion however, I do encourage you to educate yourself on the candidates as the vote will take place on August 24th!  Yes, that is the day after school starts! 

Hope everyone is having a great summer and maybe I will see you at Uncle Al’s on Thursday! If you have not been there before, you can feed the family some great food, play some pool and meet Joel Smith at the same time!


August 4, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gifted students in Broward County Public schools are provided with Educational Plans to better assure that their individual learning needs are met within the public school system.  As a result of these plans, teachers are required to modify the instruction for individual children.  Do you think that gifted children need and should receive differential instruction and why?

I believe that every child is gifted and should receive instruction differentiated to his or her individual needs, skills, and learning styles.  The question raised sounds like appropriate and high quality teaching practice and, if I understand it correctly, I believe that is what we want for all children.  Having said that, I think that each child with an education plan is entitled to all of the services and attention that the law governing the plan mandates.  I believe that a quality teaching environment should be built on RIGOR (curriculum infused with far reaching expectations, RELEVANCE (a teaching strategy to show the student how the learning is relevant to their life, learning style and future goals, aspirations and dreams), and RELATIONSHIPS (teachers and students in a mutually stimulating and respectful relationship – each motivating the other to higher ordered thinking, problem solving and creativity).

Academically gifted children should absolutely benefit from a learning culture that expects them to think creatively, solve intellectual problems, challenge themselves to ever- increasing depth of their knowledge base and adapt a disciplined approach to learning.

Parents of gifted children are concerned about the time their children spend preparing for FCAT.

I completely agree with the parents of gifted children.  I believe that if we address the teaching and learning relationship in the manner that I described in my answer to question number one, all children will have been suitably prepared for valid assessment.  Furthermore, I am concerned about the ancillary series of tests that are administered in lieu of meaningful instruction.

Supplemental funding

This is an easy question to answer: absolute transparency (which is a foundational belief intrinsic in my personality and platform.  A larger question is where has the trust gone?  Why do the parents of gifted children believe that the targeted funding is not being used appropriately?  I would like to begin discourse on that question as it would be meaningful as I move forward.

I will endeavor to make every academic, social and emotional opportunity the very best for each and every student.  I am a life long educator, student of education and responsible adult.  I certainly understand the requirements of serving gifted students.

6A-6.03019 Special Instructional Programs for Students who are Gifted.

(1) Gifted. One who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance.

(2) Criteria for eligibility. A student is eligible for special instructional programs for the gifted if the student meets the criteria under paragraph (2)(a) or (b) of this rule.

(a) The student demonstrates:

1. Need for a special program.

2. A majority of characteristics of gifted students according to a standard scale or checklist, and

3. Superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two (2) standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence.

(b) The student is a member of an under-represented group and meets the criteria specified in an approved school district plan for increasing the participation of under-represented groups in programs for gifted students.

1. For the purpose of this rule, under-represented groups are defined as groups:

a. Who are limited English proficient, or

b. Who are from a low socio-economic status family.

2. The Department of Education is authorized to approve school district plans for increasing the participation of students from under-represented groups in special instructional programs for the gifted, provided these plans include the following:

a. A district goal to increase the percent of students from under-represented groups in programs for the gifted and the current status of the district in regard to that goal;

b. Screening and referral procedures which will be used to increase the number of these students referred for evaluation;

c. Criteria for determining eligibility based on the student’s demonstrated ability or potential in specific areas of leadership, motivation, academic performance, and creativity;

d. Student evaluation procedures, including the identification of the measurement instruments to be used;

e. Instructional program modifications or adaptations to ensure successful and continued participation of students from under-represented groups in the existing instructional program for gifted students;

f. An evaluation design which addresses evaluation of progress toward the district’s goal for increasing participation by students from under-represented groups.

(3) Procedures for student evaluation. The minimum evaluations for determining eligibility are the following:

(a) Need for a special instructional program,

(b) Characteristics of the gifted,

(c) Intellectual development, and

(d) May include those evaluation procedures specified in an approved district plan to increase the participation of students from under-represented groups in programs for the gifted.

(4) This rule shall take effect July 1, 1977.

Specific Authority 1001.42(4)(1), 1003.57 FS. Law Implemented 1000.01, 1001.42(4)(1), 1003.57(5), FS. History–New 7-1-77, Formerly 6A-6.3019, Amended 10-10-91, 5-19-98, 7-14-02.

I believe that all components of the schools performance should factor into the evaluation of a Principal, the leadership team as well as the educators.  I also believe that responsibility also resides within the child and the family supporting the child.


August 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

1)      In under 200 words, why are you running for the School Board?  Martin Luther King Jr. said “It is always the right time to do the right thing.”  I believe that this is the right thing for me to do at this most right time.  I have a history that demonstrates far more than the requisite supervisory and administrative experience.  During my career, the scope and sequence of my responsibilities has continually expanded.  I have considerable experience in project management and systemic enhancement and evaluation.  These skills have been called upon to generate cross discipline understanding as well as cross department/system collaboration, all targeted at human development, academic growth and achievement, and social success. I am a whole life learner, student of education and experienced educator. 

2)      If you could, what would you change and why? How would you fund it?  The question of our commitment to a community of teaching and learning must be  addressed.  What is the pedagogy that best defines what we want for our children?  What is the curriculum plan in place to drive that philosophy?  What is the teacher training model in place to help our professional staff develop the requisite skills to help children accomplish 21st century learning and gain 21st century learning skills.  This is, to me , the fundamental budget / funding question as well as these questions are the foundational questions to creating the budget, rather than the ‘let’s educate with whatever we have left’ model that appears to be in place at this time. 

3)      What are your past, and current affiliations, with any school board committee, council, group, PAC, association or any other possible roles within the school system? Who appointed you to those positions? How long?  N/A

4)      How long have you lived in Broward County? 30 years Did you go to school here? No Where, if any, do your children go to school?  Josh and Lindsey, who are both products of Broward County Public Schools: Josh is a professional musician who matriculated from Dillard High School and Lindsey is a professional actress who matriculated from both Nova High School and Adelphi University.  Josh is based in Los Angeles and Lindsey is based in New York.

5)      The budget crisis in Broward schools has been a big issue in the community. Have you read the upcoming budget? YES Past budgets? YES  What is your financial background to review these documents accurately?  Although I am not a CPA level professional, I have had to work with budgets.  As a former Director in the school system, I handled significant budgets, including managing State funds and grant awards.  All that said, I want to take a moment to recognize the diligent effort, extreme challenge and emotional stress that the budget process creates.  I would like to honor staff’s effort.  I think that – for most of us sitting on the outside – it is easy to speak of waste, malfeasance, and other assorted criticisms that I have heard steeped upon the many hard-working staff that have worked to get the budget to this point.  I cannot imagine  that there is any intention but to present the most workable budget possible, given these challenging economic times.  I will work hard, but I will refrain from making outlandish promises that have no hope of being kept.

6)      How would you address the cuts being made in the Broward district? What would you keep, and what would you cut? Any pet projects? Why?  The budget is being set now – prior to the election.  It would be remarkably short-sighted to pretend to have any control at this point.  It would reflect politics rather than reality.  I believe that my focus: (1) teaching and learning as we prepare our students to succeed in the 21st century world they are preparing to enter, (2) a model that is based on a rigor, relevance and relationship formula, and (3) school culture issues (to address the hopelessness that these difficult times create, resultant inappropriate behavior and violence, and the 21st century requisites of communication skills, organization and problem solving) is the focus to move the district – and therefore our students – forward successfully.  While this is not a pet project, it is a mission.  I believe that we must create an environment that allows children to explore what life has to offer, challenges them to be more than they thought possible, and awakens a thirst for whole – life learning.  To do this we need all subjects and all teachers.  This must include comprehensive art, music, enrichment and guidance services.

7)      How would you work to alleviate problems with the Broward Teacher’s Union which has been extremely vocal in its displeasure with the current school board? How would you work to get past the mediation of issues?  Throughout my professional career, community activism, and personal sense of responsibility, I have been a concensus builder.  I believe that there is little room for posturing, false promises, outlandish stances and rhetoric.  It is important to recognize that new Board Members, regardless of what they say politically, or what they appear to promise to garner support, are walking into relationships that have already been defined.  That is why the ability to communicate effectively and build concensus are critical skills as we move forward.  I was able to provide this leadership by creating the Discipline Management System and having it systemically adopted.  I am proud to say that it has continued to evolve and a new Risk Management System (in which I am proud to say I am still involved) is being introduced this school year.  IT SHOULD BE ABOUT THE KIDS.  IT MUST BE ABOUT THE KIDS.  IT’S ABOUT THE KIDS.  There is no reason for a school district or a teacher’s union without the kids.

8)      The Broward Sheriff’s Office is also looking at budget cuts, which could get rid of some school resource officers. How would you continue to look at addressing parent’s concerns about safety in our public schools?  I believe that the time has come to recognize that although the school district and the County and the Broward Teachers Union and the Broward Sheriff’s Office are distinct entities, they are all critical to the recovery and success of our community.  I believe that it is time that these parties sit down together to address problems and challenges that cut across proprietary boundaries.  The school campus safety issue is certainly one of these issues.  I have been, and continue to be – involved in critical problem-addressing organizations across our community in an effort to shepherd solutions to these (and other) challenges.  I believe we must work together to address the needs of our citizens.  We must address safety for our students.

9)      What priority do you put on what is considered extras (anything non-FCAT related generally)? How would you look to fund it? I believe that we must create an environment that allows children to explore what life has to offer, challenges them to be more than they thought possible, and awakens a thirst for whole – life learning.  To do this we need all subjects and all teachers. Often these are the very subjects that keep frustrated or struggling students engaged and on a path to graduation and post secondary education  or career attainment.  Again, while the budget is being set prior to the new Board being sworn in, I believe that the time has come to look at many options -unpleasant though they may be – such as: a 4 day school week, extended days, alignment with ancillary service providers, consolidating schools, etc.  I also believe that we must address why we have lost more than 20,000 students to other forms of educational provision.  What are the parents telling us and why?  We need to address the educational needs of the entire community so as to (1) not continue the erosion of the student population, and (2) convince our community that Broward County Public Schools can more than meet their needs.

10)  How would you reach out into the community to build creative ideas to educate students while working with local businesses?  As I stated, our educational offerings must include a high degree of exploration for our students.  We must partner with our community to insure that these opportunities exist for our students.  I have long and deep relationships across our community (public and private sector) to support this approach.

11)  What is your perspective on the various boundary issues, such as Cooper City, and other concerns about overbuilding while schools on the east have more space? What is your stance on boundary concerns and their impacts on communities?  While I absolutely understand and respect these concerns, I also must point out that we – as in all of Florida – are a county – wide educational system rather than a municipality driven system.  We must provide all of the components that I have been addressing in these questions to all of our students.  I will always support the least amount of disruption possible, but I want to insure that all of our students have the rich educational experience that they deserve, regardless of the school that they happen to attend.  I am schooled in System of Care values and I whole=heartedly believe in the importance of community.  Broward County is a community.

12)  Do you support the constitutional amendment in the November ballot that would relax class-size rules, allowing schools to base class size as a school wide average instead of strict per classroom numbers? YES


14)  What are your qualifications to help meet the educational needs of the students of Broward County in the 21st Century?  I am an experienced educator, student of education and a whole life learner.  I am heavily involved in youth issues across the many levels of our community.  I am not a politician, I am an educator.  IT’S ABOUT THE KIDS.  I am running because it is the right time to do the right thing, not because I hope to run for other positions in the future.

15)  Obviously residents in Broward have grave concerns about ethics violations. How can you assure us of your morals, ethics and genuine interest in the school board? How will you continue to address this issue with constituents?  I believe that the way I have lived my life and the commitments that I have made (and kept) should create a tremendous level of confidence.  I am not a politician, I am an educator.  I am running my campaign exactly the way I live – I have continually provided all of my contact information and welcome the use of it.  I am – and will always be – transparent in all dealings. 

16)  What do you think should be the school system’s focus over the next four years?  I believe that solid educational budgeting practice should be built on determining what the unequivocal needs of the students are and then budgeting back to the available funds.    The role of education is to help young people become good citizens and productive members of society.  We must create a climate of whole life learning and educational adventure for our students.  We must rebuild the lost trust within our community and share the vision of teaching and learning.  We must convince our community that Broward County Public schools offers the best educational platform for the children.  We must recreate a climate of hope for our employees, and we must be honest and transparent in all of our dealings.


August 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For those of you who are interested, the County Line program (BECON station 63 on Direct TV) showing the candidate interviews for School Board Seats in District 1 and District 2 will be airing August 10th @ 1 PM, August 11th @ 12 AM and August 21st @ 5 PM

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