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Dear Gov. Scott: “We Are Going To Start Losing Teachers.” An Ex-School Board Member’s Plea

| May 17, 2012

Ecvie Shellenberger, now back in the classsroom, served on the Flagler County School Board from 2002 to 2010. (© FlaglerLive)

Evie Shellenberger served on the Flagler County School Board from 2002 to 2010. She appeared before the board on Tuesday (May 15), following an appearance by Florida Public Schools Chancellor Pam Stewart, which Shellenberger said confirmed the absence, in Tallahassee, of “anybody up there fighting for us.” Shellenberger, describing her journey as having gone “full circle,” briefed the board on a letter she had just sent Gov. Rick Scott. The full letter appears below.

Dear Governor Scott,

My name is Evelyn Shellenberger and for the purposes of this letter I want to tell you a little about myself. I have 42 years in education which include teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, principal, director of human resources, student activities director at a high school and school board member including being chairperson for two years. I retired in November 2010 and currently a substitute teacher helping students in danger of failing for numerous reasons. With this introduction you can clearly see that I have done it all and gone full circle. Therefore, my comments are from experience.

Governor Scott, what I see year after year in Tallahassee are laws being added or changed concerning education that are leaving a large portion of a generation behind. With each legislative session, new laws are being placed upon our school systems without removing any previous requirements or extending the school day. Many of these requirements do not address the needs of a quarter or more of the students who have no intention of going to college for various reasons. One very important reason is that due to the lack of family support and living situation, they do not and never will have the skills and knowledge to pass the graduation requirements set forth for all students.

Please note that I have no desire to ask that the challenges be taken away from those who are capable and have parental support throughout their lives. But, sir, this is a different time in education. A large number of students who could succeed in a vocational program and graduate with a trade, where they can become a successful member of society, are being totally ignored and forgotten. All the while our legislators continue to put their heads in the sand and pass more laws increasing the gap for these students.

I have not mentioned money. Why? Because common sense tells you and me that education costs money and new programs cost more money. But this investment must be done and parents and taxpayers must demand that with mandates there must be funding and time to accomplish these mandates.

Shellenberger, appearing before her old school board colleagues, on May 15. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

I can tell you first hand now that I am back at the classroom, where the rubber meets the road, that we are going to start losing teachers. The demands to make all students learn equally at the same level, no matter what baggage they carry to school with them, in a college-bound curriculum, is killing them. I see it on their faces and eyes. However, they keep working, tirelessly trying to make it work, knowing that many cannot and will not make it. A huge number of students won’t even try.

Will you please mandate that all those making these decisions spend at least one week all day as a teacher in a regular classroom (and in lawmakers’ case, recommend it)? Not college prep, high-dollar or magnet schools. The superintendent and principals should make the assignments. Lawmakers and those who shape policy at the Department of Education need to see the real world and spend the week talking to teachers and hear their stories. They would have a huge eye-opening experience. They also need to stop creating new demands and programs for the schools with out funding or additional time allocated.

Our children in the state of Florida are being left behind. If possible I would like to have an opportunity to sit down and talk with you one-on-one about this. My number is 386-503-0632 should you be able to work a visit into your schedule.


Evelyn Shellenberger

Evie Shellenberger can be reached by email here.

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23 Responses for “Dear Gov. Scott: “We Are Going To Start Losing Teachers.” An Ex-School Board Member’s Plea”

  1. Kendall says:


  2. parent of flagler students says:

    i agree 100%, the government keeps making all these decisions about education but i bet the only time they have ever been inside a school or classroom is either when they went to school themselves or if they have children they pick them up from school. they should spend a day in a class and see what really goes on and how important education is.

  3. Jim Seguine says:

    Thank you very much for writing this letter. I could not agree with you more. I hope ( but not holding my breath ) Governor Scott actually gives you a call.

  4. Hank Reardon says:

    MS Shellenberger,
    Spend more money is always the answer of progressives (even when there is no more money to spend). how about the School Board doing what all Flagler households are having to do -cut out the frilss and get back to basics and necessities. where is the evidence that throwing more money at the schools produces a better educated student (Washington DC schools?)?

    Who is John Galt?

  5. Lois Hoffmann says:

    This is why I loved Ms. Evie, as an administrator when I was at FPC, why I voted for her, and why I respect her still! Thank you, Ms Evie, I hope she reads this.

  6. Just Me says:

    No Child Left Behind is holding kids back (“retained”) in droves. It’s sinful.

  7. Out of curiosity says:

    Fabulous idea!!!

  8. JGA says:

    Way to go Ms Shellenberger, we need you back asap!!!!

  9. Angela Smith says:

    Excellent letter, however, Governor Skeletor has demonstrated time after time that he and his minions in the state capital do NOT give a rat’s a**.

  10. Frances says:

    Excellent letter, Evie. If only Governor Scott would listen to someone with your experience. Flagler County has been fortunate to have an educator like you involved at every level of our district. Thank you for caring for all students.

  11. Monica Campana says:

    If the tests are such great indicators of future performance and success in the work place, every single one of the folks in Tallahassee should have to pass it first. Their jobs should be on the line and their salaries cut if they don’t implement educational changes that improve student learning and achievement. One size fits all requirements and measuring teachers and schools based on the performance of children and teenagers before they finish a course of study is insane. One must ask – exactly what is the agenda? Certainly not to evaluate students and help them improve. The only logical explanation is someone wants to privatize education so they can get their hands on more $. The future economic impact of all this testing will be to devastate US growth. Kids who drop out contribute very little to a thriving economy.

  12. says:

    lets start by getting rid of the salaries for the school board members and any benifits they receive. school board members should do it voluntarily like many other states. it’s not much but it’s a start.

    • walter neurauter says:

      i think has it nailed. however, i think curtailing the over paid under worked school board is an enormous first step toward directing precious taxpayer $ to where it belongs. students and teachers!

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Totally agree here with Monica. These test are not about students improvements or benefit is about the consultants making the big bucks providing the hardware, software and all that takes to design and provide these test!! One way closer to privatization, terminating our teachers work and finally replacing them with virtual classes. Like in some neighboring counties are enforcing already. They do not care at all about middle class or poor students,education as the more ignorant everyone is, the better manipulated they will be. Until we take a stand and demand accountability for the services we pay with our taxes, these fraud and abuses will proceed.

  14. Geezer says:

    “We Are Going To Start Losing Teachers.”
    Exactly! -Rick Scott

  15. bethechange says:

    Hi Evie…After Senator Thrasher’s visit to Flagler County Schools (see Flaglerlive May 8, 2012), he said it was the best school visit he had ever had and requested that he be “peppered” with emails. He further assured district administrators that he would bring new and innovative ideas from the visit to the FDOE. Please consider forwarding this letter to him as well. With all due respect to the difficult job our state legislators do, I would NEVER presume to tell the legal profession how to practice the law, doctors how to practice medicine, firemen and women how to put out a fire, law enforcement how to apprehend criminals and the list goes on and on. And yet, so many presume to know how best to educate children. How anyone can imagine that evaluating the thought process – an unseen – through observable, but 2nd-hand behaviors is an easy task just reinforces how little one knows. In 1998 district employees were told that they had 1 year to ‘reform’ education in the state and if this wasn’t done Blueprint 2000 – the state’s accountability plan would be enacted. In good faith the district set about training teachers on identifying problems by collaborating with those closest to the ‘problem’, the students and parents. Teachers continued teaching, students working and learning and parents continued working and supporting their families. Time ran out and we failed to reform our system in the year allowed. Blueprint 2000 and FCAT were enacted and NCLB became law. That was 12 years ago. My own children are products of this era. My eldest graduating this year was one of the first 3rd graders to take the FCAT and I am curious about how much ‘smarter’ or prepared he is, as contrasted to high school graduates from 12 years ago. After how many millions (billions) of dollars? At least he is graduating. My heart breaks knowing the great number of casualties whose lives are irreversibly changed for the worse because of their inability to perform to the standard. I also wonder about the state’s ‘accountability’ and if they have a plan in place to measure the effectiveness of yearly standardized testing, now that a whole generation presents itself. Most curious of all, though is that professional educators were given 1 year and legislators have had 12…and counting.

  16. PCer says:

    palmcoaster – Florida Virtual School has real teachers at a ratio of about 1:150

  17. Liana G says:

    I think we can agree that people concerned with the state of education realize that improvements need to be made all around. We are going to lose teachers, but their replacements will be individuals who will be better trained in the profession even before setting foot in the classroom. There is a new licensing standard for student teachers being piloted in 25 states that would require passing a Teacher Performance Assessment test, a 40 page take home test along with “a “teaching event” requiring teachers to extensively document and submit for review artifacts [videos included] of their planning, instruction, and ability to assess and respond to student needs [ELL and ESE included].” Taking the state certified examination and subject area tests are still required, but teachers will have to pass the TPA first. With all these improvements being made, we should expect to see outstanding results in education!

    Interesting article:

  18. another voice says:

    Liana G, I would be more inclined to listen to you if your postings didn’t sound like press releases on behalf of those who would dismantle and privatize our education system.

  19. Hank Rearden says:

    Coach C., thank you for your spelling lesson. The parallels in the story to todays whiners and Teacher Union supporters asking the government for money it does not have is evident with most of the comments here, and referencing an article from Huffington Post tells me of your political leanings. I can only pray that you don’t teach Civics like this NC teacher. .
    I would suggest others read the book.
    Who is John Galt?

  20. mej says:

    “Start losing teachers…”
    We are already leaving. Many who are staying are in a rock and a hard place for many are within 10 years of retirement, or have other family obligations that keep them in FL. Those of us who have the option to leave – we are. I LOVED working in Flager County. LOVED working with my students (a population most did not want to work with) – but when I’m told my salary will be based upon the gains of my students, I will never move forward, all of my students were ESE, the majority would not make the gains required; my students were being forced to take classes for college prep and would just get overwhelmed and frustrated…then behavior problems arise. I hope things change for Florida, and education in general. Not everyone needs to go to a college. How many college graduates does it take to run a fast food place? Apparently a lot now-a-days. Students need to learn work skills so they can be productive citizens.

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