Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Broward Schools named finalist for national award -Sure for inept bureaucracy, but...

Just sent this email to the reporters who cover South Florida
education issues, their bosses, and some other interested parties
in the area, including elected officials, other area media folks
and bloggers, some of whom have wondered the same things
I have.
April 3rd, 2009

re Broward schools named finalist for national award
and Broward school district a finalist for top national
education award

So, do you know the answer?

If Broward County's schools are so awesome, please explain
to me why, FIVE months AFTER the November election
she won, and four-and-a-half months AFTER she was sworn-in,
the geniuses at the Broward School Board STILL haven't gotten
around to placing District 1 School Board member Ann
Murray's office email address on the Member page, like
all of the other members?

That's a lot of weeks for bureaucrats to never get
around to finishing the To-Do list!

Residents of SE Broward like me and my circle of friends
and acquaintances are entitled to the same level of service
as the rest of the county.
Should I really have to contact someone else's Member
in order to find out something?
I don't think so, and I also don't think their being unable
to get on top of this in FIVE MONTHS really says much
about the degree of accountability at the Broward County
School District, much less the level of follow-though on

Can I really be the only person from this area
of Broward County who thought that in the year
2009, I ought to be able to go to the district's
website and find my member's contact info?

2.) Why are Broward taxpayer's funds expended for
notice ads in both area newspapers advertising area
School Board meetings held at local schools where
the date and the day of the week in the ad are not in
Does nobody pay attention to anything over
at the School Board?

3.) And why is it that after all that, when you call the
School Board HQ to find out what's going on, they not
only DON'T know anything about the particular
eeting you're calling about, but also can't explain why
the Broward School Board's own website doesn't
have a specific webpage on it listing that very
information, so that parents and the public can
actually find out about them and attend?

That all really happened to me last week for a
school meeting this week in SE Broward.

No, I still tend to think that per my earlier
complaints last Fall and blog post of December
re Broward Superintendent James Notter & Co.
using taxpayer funds for a purpose that taxpayers
clearly don't intend to them to be used for, that is,
political advocacy -referenced below- my
default position will remain that the Broward
school district is assumed to be incompetent

a.) I start seeing some believable stories about
it actually getting easier to fire bad teachers/
administrators and remove continually disruptive
students from the scene.
b.) I start seeing some tangible evidence that
school security actually IS a lot MORE concerned
with preventing weapons from getting onto campuses,
and a lot LESS concerned with covering-up crimes on
campus and preventing the public, thru TV and
print reporters, from finding out the real truth.

H-m-m-m... so where exactly is the evidence
that's happening?
I haven't seen it.

Or even that the Broward School Board is on board
with that sort of common sense change in policy?
Precisely the problem.

Instead, over the past two weeks, I STILL
see/read stories about kids who threaten other
students at school, and the problem kids getting
to return to the same Elementary or Middle School
after a short psychological time-out, as if nothing
has happened.
And the parents of the threatened student get the
same ol' shrugged-shoulders approach we've come
to expect from South Florida's school bureaucracy
when parents or guardians express concerns or
doubts about their kid's safety to district officials
after the returning student comes back.

And good luck in trying to find out what happens
punishment-wise when students show-up to
school with "hit lists" of other students.
I have a friend who told me about a mutual
acquaintance of ours whose kid was named
on such a list, and the student's mother is
naturally quite concerned.
So the school saying that they're "on top of it,"
rather than articulating specific measures
they've taken to deal with the circumstances,
does NOTHING to reassure the mother of
the threatened student, capisce?

Why should the student's mother accept that
when you wouldn't accept that sort of explanation
about a newsroom colleague of yours that
showed up to work with a "hit list" that had your
name on it?

Tell me, do you think those returning problem
kids are thinking about revenge?
Of course they are, they're kids!
Why would you expect something different?

So tell me, when exactly should we expect to see
the stories about how many people from the
Broward and Miami-Dade school districts are going
to the national convention in San Diego this very

Or the story about who's going to audit any of
the so-called economic stimulus the school district
-or county- actually receives?

Those are stories I want to see, if only to hear the
pathetic excuses uttered by the Usual Suspects
for why it's so important for school districts like
theirs, which actually repel dynamic
businesses from relocating here, to spend
money to attend the ocean-side festivities.

I suspect that their unbelievable rationales will
sound a lot like the ones we've heard uttered so
frequently the past year by South Florida legislators
from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade County,
on how the FL legislature's schedule is so
gosh-darn unreliable and just can't be reformed...

So what, as a consequence of that continual
mis-management in Tallahassee, it's only natural
that the legislators continue to get away with
paying $600 for a one-way flight to Tallahassee
from Fort Lauderdale, and that we,
as taxpayers, just have to accept it as our due
that we will be socked for that completely
over-the-top expense, as a result of their
own mis-management and inability to have
maintain a schedule that means something,


To me, those are all stories that write themself.
So why am I not seeing them anywhere?

New York Post
April 3, 2009

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stopped by The Post yesterday,

and he looked mighty perplexed when he learned how De Facto

Gov. Sheldon Silver and his partners in perfidy are treating charter

schools in New York state.

Traditional schools -- that is, teachers-union franchises -- get a

half-billion bucks more in the Silver-crafted budget now wending

its way through Albany's legislative labyrinth.

Charters -- public, non-traditional and largely non-union schools --

are targeted by Silver for slow starvation; they get not a nickel

of new money.

And Duncan doesn't understand why.

"These are our kids," he said. "These are our tax dollars.

These are our schools."

Well, here's why:

Charter schools, generally speaking, are immensely successful

undertakings. In Harlem, for example, charter schools are setting

performance standards that put the traditional schools -- with their

union work-rules and such -- to shame.

So the governor-without-portfolio and his fellow legislators

- who depend heavily on teachers-union money every election

year - have decided that charters must go without this year.

That's not how Duncan intends to spend the considerable sum

of federal money now at his disposal.

"The dollars have to follow the kids," he said. "To be clear,

we don't fund a school. We fund kids. Money follows the children."

That sounds fair to us.

And this simply sounds smart:

"I believe in choice. I believe in competition. Give parents and

students great options," Duncan said. "When there are waiting

lists, do more of those schools.

When no one's buying, close them."

Words to live by, Mr. Silver.



South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Broward school district a finalist for top national education award

April 2, 2009

The Broward County school district is once again a finalist for a prestigious

national education award, according to the Miami Herald.

It's the second consecutive year Broward is in the running for the Broad Prize

for Urban Education, awarded to urban school systems for improved achievements

among low-income and minority students.

Broward earned its status as a finalist for narrowing the achievement gap

between Hispanic and white students in certain subjects between 2005

and 2008, the Herald reported.

Four other school districts in the United States are also finalists for the

Broad Prize. A winner will be announced in September.

Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Reader comments at:http://www.topix.net/forum/source/south-florida-sun-sentinel/T8H9IKPHT8IUNTPVQ



Miami Herald

Broward schools named finalist for national award

By Patricia Mazzei

For the second year in a row, the Broward school district has been named a finalist for a prestigious award dubbed the Nobel Prize in education.

The Broad Prize for Urban Education is awarded to large urban school districts that improve achievement among low-income and minority students.

The winning district receives $1 million in scholarships for high school seniors who will graduate in 2010. The four finalists each receive $250,000 in scholarships.

Last year, Broward and Miami-Dade were both up for the prize, which eventually went to a school district in Brownsville, Texas. Miami-Dade, among the finalists three times in the past, did not make the list this year.

School districts cannot apply for the prize.

Broward was chosen in part for narrowing the achievement gap between Hispanic and white students between 2005 and 2008 in elementary, middle and high school math and in middle and high school reading.

Math and reading also improved for African-American students compared to white students and for poor students compared to the state average for more affluent students. The number of African Americans taking the SAT college-entrance exam in the district went up as well.

Broward started outfitting low-income classrooms with new technology like digital video projects and audio amplification systems this school year. The district has also had teams of people who visit low-performing schools regularly to review student progress and suggest changes.

The California-based Broad Foundation, started by former businessman Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, has recognized school districts with the prize since 2002. The reward is designed for school systems at which improving math and reading skills for poor and minority students is particularly difficult.

Finalists are chosen from the country's 100 largest districts, which educate about a fourth of all U.S. students. Broward is the nation's sixth-largest.

The other four districts in the running for the 2009 prize are:

Aldine Independent School District, Houston.

Gwinnett County Public Schools, outside Atlanta.

Long Beach Unified School District, California.

Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas.

The winner of the prize will be announced in September in Washington, D.C., after the foundation gathers more data and visits all five districts over the next two months.

Reader comments at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/980711.html#Comments_Container


Monday, December 8, 2008

Broward School Board's policies/results are deal breakers. Let Murray be Murray!

My comments follow this Sun-Sentinel Broward politics blog post from yesterday
and article by Anthony Man and Akilah Johnson today on the Broward School
Board, and one of their typically bad PR moves, and the Hannah Sampson article
on the same that appeared today in the Herald.
Broward Politics blog
Broward schools want some federal bailout money
Posted by Anthony Man at 4:21 PM
Miami Herald
Broward School Board to vote on bailout request
By Hannah Sampson
December 8, 2008

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Board might request federal bailout include Broward County schools
Two members say education should be included in Barack Obama's plans
to broadly assist the U.S. economy
By Anthony Man and Akilah Johnson
December 8, 2008

If this foolish idea were actually allowed to reach fruition, don't we already know from
experience what we'd be hearing about months from now?

An avalanche of after-the-fact reporting on the closed-to-the-public Workshop/Retreat
in Naples or Captiva or somewhere that the Broward County School Board,
James Notter & Co. would have to take, so they could focus and concentrate their
energy on what they'd spend the money on.

A lot of Broward voters in District 1 like me voted for Ann Murray for Broward School
Board over personable Rick Saltrick precisely because despite some very appealing
qualities, he was TOO MUCH LIKE the current Board members in policy outlook,
and probably wouldn't fight hard enough for taxpayers and parents against either poor
administration or union policies when confronted with them.

I met Saltrick a few times in the weeks before the election, in both Hollywood and in
Hallandale Beach, and would certainly strongly consider voting for him in the future
for another political office.
Hell, I wouldn't mind exchanging him in a heartbeat for about two dozen people
I can think of who are currently in office hereabouts.

But for Broward School Board, I felt that his strong connections/ties to current
and past Broward education administration types/lobbyists/fixers, which he
thought was a plus, and certainly was as far as raising campaign money and
producing high-quality campaign literature, became a negative at the ballot box
at a time when people really want to see increased accountability.
Or at least say they do.

Perhaps too much "get along" and not enough signs of clear-cut independence.

Apparently, as the vote showed, I wasn't alone in my intuition.
Murray's rhetorical question towards the end of the campaign about why he would
spend so much money for a part-time job really hit home with a lot of voters I spoke
with, too.
Even ones in his redoubt of Hollywood who had voted for Saltrick in the primary.

Meanwhile, Murray's stated position that her work experience gave her a clear
insight into the system's bloat, as well as ideas as to where the bodies were hidden,
resonated with voters.

She deserves the chance to use her new position on the Board to do more digging
and make those sorts of arguments from the dais, and make the relevant information
and policies public before the Broward School Board gets one more cent.

With the exception of Murray, the existing Board members seem to be Educrats
in complete denial about how bad most of even the "average" schools are in their

Even worse, they seem to fundamentally misunderstand what a deal-breaker that
sort of pronounced mediocrity -and inability to effectively deal with crime- is for
many companies and individuals/families who are genuinely interested in relocating
down here, even after they get over the unjustified housing costs.

And incidents like the one this spot-on Glenna Milberg story from the end of
November highlights, about an incident in Hallandale, only make their apathy and
unwillingness to re-examine existing policies look more stark and pathetic.
16-Year-Old Accused Of Bringing Knives To School, 20 Students Expelled
For Weapons This Year
POSTED: 6:11 pm EST November 24, 2008
Video at

Sunshine or not, the combination of high housing costs and mediocre,
crime-plagued schools is a deal breaker!

The School Board needs to accept that reality, and stop making the same
bad mistakes and political arguments, over-and-over, and move on to
changing the dynamic with tangible results and less flippant chatter from
the likes of Beverly Gallagher.

Until then, save Murray, they simply aren't trustworthy -period.

For more, see this post from the Herald's Naked Politics about my email
and post of August 12th
Broward blogger complains about school campaign against amendments
5, 7 and 9

It was written after having seen the School Board's website and reading this
August 12th post: School Board member starts political action committee

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#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's yet another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

A post shared by Bebe Rexha (@beberexha) on