Why I support a referendum for appointing the Escambia County school superintendent

The education of our children unequivocally is one of the most important issues facing any area. That especially is true in Pensacola, and in Escambia County as a whole. On Nov. 6, Escambia County voters have the opportunity to improve our school district.

We will vote on a referendum that would make the Escambia County Superintendent of Schools an appointed position, rather than a political one.

I support this change.

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It is not lightly that we should consider giving up our right to vote for such an important position. But it is precisely because of the importance of our schools that we should do so. The administering of our local education system will never be completely devoid of politics, nor should it be. But we already elect our individual school board members. We hold them accountable at the ballot box. And we will continue to give them guidance when it comes to selecting and appointing a superintendent. 

A superintendent should not be subject to political gamesmanship when it comes to making the best choices for our children. A superintendent should not have one eye trained on the next election, when both should remain on the students and teachers. Attention and energy should be spent on giving our teachers the tools and salary and support they need and deserve, not on ginning up votes. And there will be more accountability with an appointed superintendent, who can be removed by the local school board, if need be, and not by the governor in Tallahassee.

We can help make that happen. We can empower our elected school board members to locate and hire the best superintendent they can. We can demand that they do so openly and transparently. We can ensure that our students and teachers have the best leadership possible.

Only two states — Florida and Alabama — still have any elected school superintendents. More than a third of Florida's counties already have made the decision to switch to an appointed superintendent. Escambia County is the second largest that has not.

Pensacola and Escambia County can lead the way for the rest of the state on Nov. 6 by voting to appoint, rather than elect, our superintendent.