BY BUDDY NEVINS
It didn’t take long for newly-minted School Board member Abby Freedman to discover the biggest impediment to improvement in our classrooms:
No, not the teachers. Freedman believes rightly so that they need more resources and sympathy.
It’s the apparatchiks pushing paper without any accountability and the six-figure lifers in glass offices at the system’s headquarters.
One – this person will go unnamed – misled Freedman with faulty information before her first meeting this week.
Bad move. Wrong person to pull that on.
Freedman reads the backup material. She double checks.
And she has three sons and taught school. She knows b. s. when she hears it.
“I was given the wrong information,” Freedman told Browardbeat.com. “A lot of that has gone on through the years.”
“It’s like any business”, she said of the Board. “Its can’t be tolerated.”
Parents and taxpayers should like the sound of that.
Freedman is an impressive package. She offers a lot of promise.
She has a law degree and has been in business management.
Her entire campaign was self-funded. She spent $108,045.18 as of Nov. 1, taking not a dime from lobbyists or insiders doing business with the school system.
“I didn’t get in bed with anybody to win this. The only person I’m in bed with is my husband,” she said.
Parents and taxpayers should like the sound of that, too.
Despite throwing more money into the race than most people earn in a year, Freedman didn’t just buy her Northwest Broward District 4 seat. She worked hard.
She knocked on doors…listening. She spent almost every night at meetings…listening. She hustled.
“I literally worked 35 pounds off,” Freedman said, laughing. “I’m happy with that. Taking pictures now is great!”
But more important, Freedman heard what parents and taxpayers wanted from the public schools.
They wanted change. They wanted a better education for their kids. They wanted more accountability, transparency and a better use of tax dollars.
“I’m dedicated to making a difference,” she said.
The chance for making a difference has never been better. Freedman joins a Board with four recently-elected members who appear dedicated to improvements.
Members Patti Good and Nora Rubert ask tough questions of the staff, a big adjustment for bureaucrats after years of a somnolent Board. Members Katie Leach and Donna Korn watch the budget.
Those four, who all became Board member in the last two years, have been restrained by the budget problems and hiring a new superintendent. But times are getting better.
I have faith that these four, along with Freedman, will finally make the Broward Schools something we can be proud of. Superintendent Robert Runcie, who can count votes, seems to be moving in the direction of making some major moves.
Whether Freedman’s idealism can survive the snake pit that is the School Board is the question.
Will the politics and the lobbyists get to her? Will she be able to shove aside the roadblocks erected by the entrenched staff that wants no one to rock their cozy boats?
It will be interesting to see. But if anybody can do it, I’m putting my money on Freedman.
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