Today the Miami Herald was throwing around one of our favorite words: vision. They used it more than once to describe the theme to Dade County Mayor Carlos Alverez' "State of the County" speech he will be delivering today. And, although we may disagree with some aspects of his vision-- he wants to dig the billion dollar plus tunnel at the Port of Miami, we don't-- it's always good to see an elected official having a modicum of vision.
The other gentleman quoted as using the word "vision" is our own favorite teacher, Shawn Beightol. He's the chemistry teacher that caught our eye several months ago for getting the shaft from the bureaucrats that run the Dade County Schools. Because he had the temerity to use the school-wide email system to get word out to teachers about his ideas, he was summarily removed from his teaching position at Krop High and assigned to the bus maintenance depot. Talk about a heavy handed abuse of power. In any event, Mr. Beightol is running for president of the United Teacher's of Dade, the union that represents teachers. The election is tomorrow and we hope any teacher reading this posting will not only vote for Beightol, but encourage others to do the same. He's up against the current president, Karen Aronowitz, who, in our opinion, hasn't shown enough vision or exhibited enough cojones to get the county to cough up more money for teacher salaries, better working conditions, and benefits. We believe Beightol has what it takes to get this job done.
UpDate (2/22): The inevitable has been postponed. Mr. Beightol lost to Ms. Aronowitz who retained her position with 55% of the vote. We believe most teachers feared where Mr. Beightol might have taken them: to the picket line. That means trying to pay bills without an income and that is a sobering thought for anyone. The truth is that teachers will only be seen as "second class professionals" until they are paid the money they deserve. As for the looming teacher crisis in Florida, it's still coming and this vote will have no effect in stopping it. Florida needs 20,000 teachers a year for the next decade. How will they recruit them if they can't pay them enough to make a profit on the cost of living? In Miami the average cost of a home is around $300,000. How can a new teacher making less than $40,000 afford to live here? Will teachers opt to spend the rest of their working lives as part of the rat race commute from Broward county, getting up before the crack of dawn, driving an hour to and from work everyday just to barely make ends meet? We don't think so. We think new college graduates will opt for less expensive parts of Florida and the U.S. to start their teaching careers. Unless Governor Crist and the Legislature enact true cost of living raises across the board, something has got to give and we predict it will happen in Dade County first because it is a microcosm of all things bad in this country regarding overcrowded schools and underpaid teachers.