Anthony DeMarco is running for Leon County School Board District 1 which is currently occupied by Alva Striplin. Striplin filed to run for re-election on February 1.
Below are the unedited answers provided by Mr. DeMarco to four questions submitted by Tallahassee Reports.
Why did you choose to run for school board?
I chose to run for the District 1 School Board Seat for many reasons. We’ve been seeing increased incidents of threats to school sites, weapons on campus, and fights among students. Many problems we see today have been around for years. The pandemic laid bare our district’s deepest issues. We have a unique opportunity to restructure and correct many of these issues.
It’s my hope to change the culture of the School Board in Leon County. Many stakeholders have experienced the lack of responsiveness from the Board and the frustration that comes with it. As the District 1 Board Member, my goal will be to represent the entire District with transparency and open communication. The wall of silence from the Board is unnecessary.
We need innovative solutions to address Leon County’s aging Education Infrastructure. With decades of experience in digital instruction, design, and content delivery I’m uniquely positioned to articulate our current technology issues and find the strongest solutions.
What do you see as the three major issues facing the school district?
We’ve seen unprecedented increases in weapons on campus, fights, and school threats. Many of these incidents spawn from social media. A successful day is impossible if our students aren’t learning in a safe, uninterrupted environment. Another issue is the lack of a strong integrated system. We are missing a unique opportunity to maximize the 1:1 laptop for every student initiative, minimize learning loss, and close education gaps. The digital platform will remain a frustration for everyone until all education systems are functioning under the same umbrella.
Addressing our critical staffing shortage is a must. Budget constraints will require new approaches to these old problems. I plan on introducing a continuing education initiative among district employees. Encouraging teachers to continue education comes with endless perks. I believe we’d experience a drastic increase in teacher retention. If we instituted simple policies like course reimbursement for advancing in their career while remaining inside of the district the opportunities become endless.
What is the major difference between you and your opponent?
My opponent hasn’t proposed any policy or solutions related to school safety during these unprecedented times. Her rhetoric is focused on cementing state overreach. I believe in our local system of government, home rule and autonomy are vital. The strongest decisions in any battlefield or campaign always account for local conditions. Keeping our children healthy and safe is the goal; doing this is impossible with recent state legislation.
My opponent believes our only major difference is her experience in the classroom. Increased parent involvement at every level of our schools is today’s primary focus. I’m the only candidate with children in K-12 schools. Many would agree she’s led the attack from the dias on local educators and students. Her attempts to cast herself as a former educator and friend to teachers falls flat. Given her position on classroom teachers, we feel she may need to rethink our “differences.”
What is your view of the local Moms for Liberty group?
At the February 8th, 2022 School Board meeting a group of women from the League of Women Voters (LWV), a 102 year old nonpartisan organization spoke during public comment. They called themselves ‘The Grannies for Sanity.’ Their statement read in part “…Public Education is under attack. We come before you to thank you for maintaining high standards for the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff. We have been alarmed when groups with names like Moms for Liberty stand here and berate you…”
I view Moms for Liberty, Leon County as a fad or passing trend. I feel much like the LWV regarding Moms for Liberty as an organization. The group has brought nothing of benefit to the district. The only time I’ve heard of Moms for Liberty Leon County is when they were planning protests. Their approach and demeanor, creates a hostile environment making rational discussion near impossible.
We need to restore civility within one of our most precious institutions and our most valuable resource, our future.
For more information or to get involved visit www.demarccoforabetterleon.com