Florida deserves dedicated public servants on our school boards that won’t inject politics into the classroom, but rather work everyday to fight for the best interests of our students and educators.
Critical Race Theory, Gender Identity, and Sexuality and are not and have never been part of the Pinellas County Public School Curriculum. We need to focus our attention on the real issues in Pinellas County such as school safety and student achievement.
After the events at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed, I worry that every drop off could be the last time I see my kids. I am running because I want to ensure that Pinellas County is following the Marjory Stoneman Douglass Commission Report.
I want to ensure that the successful safety programs associated with the Sandy Hook Promise are continued and enhanced. The ‘Start with Hello’ program teaches students to be more inclusive therefore reducing social isolation amongst students. The program trains teachers and staff on becoming trusted adults. A trusted adult is someone who students view as reliable and caring. Someone who listens and responds appropriately to student concerns, warning signs, and threats.
Our schools also utilize the ‘Say Something Anonymous Reporting System’. Every school in the county has a site-based team trained on how to address incoming tips and the appropriate ways to utilize the system. In 2021 this program led to over 2,400 tips.
In the 2021/22 school year student to counselor ratio was 434 to 1, the student to social worker ratio was 780 to 1, the student to psychologist ratio was 1,089 to 1. These ratios are significantly below recommended standards. The mental health support staff is stretched far too thin; not to mention that the psychologists spend a significant portion of their time implementing gifted testing.
We need to increase access to mental health services. This will not only increase the safety of our schools, but improve the quality of education.
As the only candidate with children in our public school system, I am uniquely qualified to advocate for the rights of all parents. I believe our parents should have voice in education and I will fight for the parental rights of all families to determine what is best for our own children.
Roughly half of our students go on to college. We need to make sure we are meeting the needs of all our students by setting them up for success in life after graduation. We currently have a number of career and technical programs within our schools. We need to expand access to more schools around the county as well as destigmatize labor. We should integrate apprenticeship programs into Pinellas County Schools. These programs give our students hands on experience and the qualifications needed to begin their careers after graduation.
In a time of dire need and critical staffing shortages, Florida teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. Platitudes and temporary bonuses don't address the actual issue in any prolonged or meaningful way. Adjusting for inflation, Florida teachers are actually making less money today then they did in 2011. We, as a community, need to support our children and their futures by enabling teachers and support staff to stay in the jobs they love.
The top influencing factor in a student's success is parental involvement in the education process. Parents should have clear and open access for communication with teachers and administrators. Teachers should be given additional planning time to interact with families to help educate our children in a collaborative environment.
As the father of three children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) I understand the process can be challenging to navigate and time consuming. As a member of the Pinellas County School Board I will be an advocate for ESE students and families. I will ensure that parents can use me as a voice to hold schools and the district accountable for the services they are required by law to provide. The 2017 Endrew Decision states that if a school does not have the services required, the school is obligated to find the services. The law also states that students shall be provided services in the least restrictive environment possible and parents have an equal right in determining such restrictions.
School start times should take into consideration the impact on families. Elementary school students should not require before and after school wrap around care to accommodate working families. High school students should not be waking up before 6 AM to get ready for school.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Brian Martin, non-partisan, for Pinellas County School Board, District 6