Steve Gallon III could have been the pitch-perfect candidate to represent the troubled District 1. But, despite his clear and well-articulated vision for what ails too many schools in this northwest Miami-Dade district, Mr. Gallon’s professional background, too, is troubled.
District 1 has been represented by Wilbert “Tee” Holloway since 2007. He is a consistent vote for school chief Alberto Carvalho’s policies — most have lifted the entire school district academically.
But challenges remain, and Mr. Holloway, 68, should be far more energetic in addressing them: There are F schools, and the district’s high poverty level and a lack of parents’ involvement hobble students’ reading-proficiency levels. Mr. Holloway says, unpersuasively, that teacher quality in District 1 is “excellent.” But Mr. Gallon, as a former Miami-Dade principal, cites research from the National Council on Teacher Quality, commissioned by the Urban League of Greater Miami, that says otherwise, to students’ detriment.
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In fact, Mr. Gallon, 47, is all about measurables: for dismantling the brick walls that too many parents of special-needs children face; ensuring qualified African-American students aren’t continually shut out of gifted classes; getting equitable distribution of resources.
But as school superintendent in Plainfield, New Jersey, Mr. Gallon was accused of hiring unqualified friends and housing two young students — Mr. Gallon told the Editorial Board that they are his godsons — so they could attend an out-of-district school. Though charges were dropped, authorities banned him from working in public schools in the state.
Now the head of an academic consulting firm in South Florida, Mr. Gallon, according to a Sun-Sentinel report, has tangled financial and administrative ties at several charter schools deemed inappropriate by outside consultants.
James Bush III, a perennial candidate, is also in this race. But with hopes that the incumbent becomes a more proactive District 1 advocate, the Herald recommends WILBERT T. “TEE” HOLLOWAY.
Modesto Abety is clearly the best in this race to fill Raquel Regalado’s seat. Mr. Abety, 65, expresses a consistently solid vision of a community-engaged approach to enhancing education. His views are rooted in his successes as former president and CEO of the Children’s Trust, including helping pass the 2002 voter referendum that allowed the Trust to levy up to 50 cents per $1,000 of property tax value to help fund the agency. He speaks from experience of forming vital partnerships to improve real, not just test-driven, education.
Other candidates include Gus Machado, 49, (no relation to the auto magnate), most concerned with ensuring special-needs children get the help they need more quickly; and Maria Teresa Rojas, 62, a retired educator. Her name surfaced when nephew Carlos J. Gimenez — son of the county mayor — apparently tried to bully her opponents out of the race. She refused to discuss it with the Editorial Board, which does not say much for her willingness to operate in a transparent manner if elected. A fourth candidate, Pedro Mora, did not appear before the Editorial Board.
Because he brings a stellar record of commitment to children, in District 6, the Herald recommends MODESTO ABETY.
Incumbent Lubby Navarro, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2015, brings both experience and accomplishment in her brief term. Her challenger, retired educator Aster Bato Mohamed, 72, wants to encourage greater parental involvement.
So does Ms. Navarro, 41, who has deep roots in policy development, including working in the school district’s Office of Governmental Affairs and Land Use Policy and as director of the Office for Intergovernmental Affairs, Grants Administration and Community Engagement. She has developed programming to better engage parents and, as important, is working to “holistically” help challenged schools in her district.
For District 7, the Herald recommends LUBBY NAVARRO.