The School Board’s Dumb Choice For Tallahassee


Why is School Board member Maureen Dinnen, the former president of the state teachers union, the chief spokesman for our schools in rabidly anti-union Tallahassee?

That’s like hiring somebody who speaks only Chinese to teach English.

Dinnen and the Republicans who run Tallahassee speak different languages.  She parrots the positions of the Florida Education Association, where she was once president.

She was picked to be the School Board’s liaison to the Legislature last month.

What a dumb move.  Isn’t this Board trying to change?  

There is no organization more hated by hardcore Republicans than Dinnen’s former employer, the teachers union.

Republicans view the teachers union as an arm of the Democratic Party. They believe the union is hopeless mired in the past and blocking any education reform.

Here are two comments about the teachers union from the James Madison Institute, which is Tallahassee’s most influential Republican think tank:

“Florida will never be competitive as long as we continue allowing unions to manipulate the salary schedules as they have done for more than 20 years in the state.

“FEA officials probably ought to re-think spending teacher’s dues on political activities and on lavish national conventions where much of the advice being dispensed is for people stuck in the last century’s educational paradigm.

Doesn’t sound like Dinnen has much in common with the Legislative leaders, who take the James Madison Institute very seriously?

I thought it significant that Dinnen sat next to state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, at last week’s legislative-School Board workshop.   Sobel is a pleasant enough woman, but not exactly a powerful force in Tallahassee.  Dinnen and Sobel are peas in a pod —  two liberals whose views are irrelevant in the state Capitol.

In the last four years, Dinnen hasn’t given contributions to one Republican.  She gave $2,100 this year, including money to Democratic state Senate candidate Kelly Skidmore.

Bad move. Skidmore ran against state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, who is the Senate Finance and Tax Chair. (My son works for Bogdanoff.)

Everything is not lost for the School Board in Tallahassee.  The system has Georgia Slack, a long-time lobbyist with a lot of institutional knowledge.  In addition to Slack, I wish they would hire more Republicans to help GOP lobbyists Clarence McKee and the Colodny firm.

But the choice of Dinnen as the lead elected official is just plain stupid.

It would have been better for the Board to pick somebody who speaks only Chinese.

22 Responses to “The School Board’s Dumb Choice For Tallahassee”

  1. Git R Done says:

    Yes Buddy, you’re right on this one. What a dumb move on their part. Not a good idea whatsoever!

  2. Floridan says:

    It doesn’t matter who the Broward County School Board sends to Tallahassee. They could send Joyce Kaufman or Pee Wee Herman and the result would be the same.

    The Republican legislature is on a mission to destroy public education in Florida (from its already low standing)– it’s going to give nothing to Broward, not ever, no how.

    Republicans have a different view, of course. They believe they are saving and revitalizing education.
    If your theory is true why bother sending anybody? The system could save thousands by just depending on the statewide associations.

  3. IF says:

    If spending or going does not make a difference, then don’t go or spend. They will accuse us of not trying by being there, we will say it’s pointless to spend since they don’t listen. That exchange will produce some conclusion that has got to be better than the situation we have now. Pay no lobbyist, send no representative, spend no money and tell people why. This is the smarter strategy to capture their attention.

  4. Literally says:

    So, Buddy, as someone with the inside track into Ellyn’s office, you’re confirming that she’s truly a pay to play legislator, and if Maureen had only contributed to her campaign, all would be okay. Nice. BTW, proofread your punctuation next time.

    Every politician is pay-for-play to a certain extent. It is naive to think otherwise.

    However, Bogdanoff is a Republican in a leadership position. Her positions wouldn’t have changed if Dinnen raised her $50,000.

    That’s not the point. I have known hundreds of elected officials. Almost all of the successful ones remember every notable person who gave money to their opponent.

    (I rode recently in a car with an elected official. This official pointed out the house of someone who put up an opponent’s law sign 20 years ago!)

    If a pol knows you are an opponent and are actively working for the pol’s defeat, you’ll naturally get the cold shoulder. That’s human nature. Why should a politician help their enemy?

    In the words of Sam Fields, “Reward and punishment are the glue that holds politics together.”

    Dinnen should have stayed out of the race altogether.

  5. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Exactly how are Republicans saving education? While the Bush foundation touts that it has lowered the achievement gap between African Americans and Whites during Jeb Bush’s adminstration, all the other measure clearly show that all their reforms have done was to narrow the curriculum in a high stakes testing environment. The graduation rates have dropped, SAT scores are stagnet and the universities are complaining the students graduating from Florida’s high schools are not prepared.

    While people point to the school districts, you and others fail to note that the school districts do not set up the rules of the road, so to speak. The state does. The State of Florida has been doing a real disservice to children do a decade or more.

    The Bush foundation,the Gates Foundation, the Gov -Elect Scott and the Obama Adminstration are asking the wrong questions and going about education reform in the wrong way. Its not about blame, its about what works with the 21st century kid.

    Having said that, the teachers unions are living in a fantasy world. I agree that Maureen Dinnen, as much as I like her, was and is the wrong choice to represent Broward in Tallahassee. While she does a credible job, ( I have been in Tallahassee with her) she hasn’t been in a classroom for well over 20 years and just doesn’t understand how educating children has changed. Nora Rupert or Dave Thomas would have been a better choice coming directly out of the classroom.

    It breaks my heart to see well meaning people who thing they have the answers strive of mediocracy rather than excellence through reforms efforts.

    I didn’t say Republicans are improving education. They say that.

    Maureen Dinnen was a teacher, much of it at Broward Community College.

    I totally agree that Rupert or Thomas would have been a better choice.

  6. Kevin says:


    “School Board’s Dumb Choice” is redundant.

  7. Enough Already says:

    Buddy: While I don’t disagree with your views on Ms. Dineen my question to you is this – Will you ever tire of being a shill for Ellyn Bogdanoff? I know she employs your son but enough already with the cheerleading.

    Can you explain to me how mentioning she is the chair of Tax and Finance is being a shill for her? It is merely a fact.
    I differ with Ms. Bogdanoff on many issues, including the teacher tenure bill and the bill last session that would have forced a pregnant woman to have an ultrasound.

  8. ontheequator says:

    TOTAL waste of money … be sure to get the frequent flyer miles back so the School Board can send someone who can do some good.

  9. Lyn says:

    Maureen Dimwit should be retired at home like her octogenarian counterpart Bob Parks. Both are senile, mean old s.o.b.s who need to spend out their golden years in rocking chairs.

    Dimwit and Parks held court over the countless corrupt practices of school board administration for years. Only a fool would take this crone seriously.
    Send Rupert to Tally, please.

  10. S only says:

    Neither Democrats nor Republicans are “saving” education.

    Education is touted as being important but it has never been funded as important. Our society puts football and consumerism on top, talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk with religion, and good ole education–which determines our collective future–is pretty much on the bottom.

    If starting salary was $100,000 for a teacher—you’d be amazed at how competitive the field would begin to be. There might even be some male role models in the schools.

    Maureen Dinnen is a symbol of the past. She’s nice enough, and has wise experience, but what we need is someone to make effective trades in Tally.

  11. BrowardVoter says:

    Dinnen or no Dinnen, major changes are coming to public education in Florida. Gov.-elect Scott has already tagged Michelle Rhee as an adviser on education. She, of course, battled the teacher’s union in Washington DC schools to get reforms put into place. Also, expect Scott to take a page from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s playbook on educational reform. What are these reforms?? Well, at their heart is to have our schools focus on the students they serve, not on the adults who perform the service. Teacher unions focus on the teachers, NOT the students. As AFT founder Al Shanker said, the union will focus on the needs of the students when the students start paying union dues.

  12. Susan Goldstein says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Buddy. They certainly don’t give the decision makers a reason to listen. Same thing happened with the CSC last session.

  13. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    What is the current reformers student focus? More testing. Testing has managed to achieve one thing, a very narrow focused curriculum that doesn’t begin to teach our children the depth and breath of knowledge they need to succeed in college or post secondary ed of some sort.

    Even with reforms that make sense, such as the advent of end of course exams, the DOE fails miserably in taking into account the variety of high school schedules in Florida and for block schedule kids taking Algebra 1 in the fall semester, it may be a problem aminstering the EOC in May.
    DOE doesn’t care about that.

    It is all very frustating. We do need reform. Not in the form of more testing.

  14. Charlotte Brownfart says:

    Send Chaz Stevens to Tallahassee. Just make the ticket one-way.

  15. here is why says:

    Maureen is going because she is good friends with Judy Stern (also her campaign consultant) and Stern has a lot of contacts in Tallahassee. Also, Stern has already lined up some fundraisers for Maureen while she is up there. Keep an eye out for the invitations in March. It is well known that Maureen has some serious well funded potential opponents out there and Stern is getting ready for 2012.

  16. the Real Truth says:

    Same stupidity, different players. Thought the whole idea of electing these new board members was to stop the stupidity. It is obviously contagious. Maureen in Tally is just a waste of her time and Tally’s.

  17. Dan Reynolds says:


    Can’t entirely agree with you on this one. First of all none of the Broward Board members will have any political clout in Tally. What Maureen does have is experience dealing with the legislature.

    Physically the capitol can be maze like. She knows her way around.

    She has drafted legislation and amendments and understands how to read and research bills.

    She can decipher the tome that becomes the budget for K-12. That alone is the most important part of representing Broward in Tally. Districts often get thrown under the (school)bus during the final weeks of session and among the sitting board members no one has the experience of Maureen in that arena. I have seen her in action there. Remember that Georgia, as good as she is, represents more than one district so Broward needs a partisan in those budget battles.

    I do hope they send some of the new board members to work with Maureen and learn their way around the process.

  18. How Dare You Dan Reynolds says:

    Dan Reynolds should pay more attention to his own dumb choices. Today the County voted to privatize the port security union jobs. Dan said vote for his candidates. They will keep our jobs safe so we did. One month later the jobs are gone but Dan gets to keep his cushy job. Now my husband is going to be out of work. I don’t know what we are going to do. Thanks for nothing Dan you are a waste.

  19. To: How Dare You: Lyn says says:

    I am very disappointed to hear this. The idiots in Florida who vote for any moron with an “R” after his name deserve what they get. How secure will the ports be with minimum wage port security workers? But, hey, crabby old people, you will save 25 cents on your monthly tax bill. Yippee.
    Seriously, my prayers and thoughts go out to everyone who finds themselves dealing with adversity this holiday season, even those trailer-dwelling rednecks and neo-cons who keep voting against their own best interests and still can’t figure out why the hell they can’t afford to get the pickup fixed.

  20. To: How Dare You: Lyn says says:

    Oh, the crack about voting against your own best interests doesn’t apply to How Dare You Dan Reynolds. These poor people’s only mistake was to believe a two-faced, lying politician.

  21. Democrats Voted for Privatization says:

    There is a long list of county commissioners that is democrat who voted to privatize security at the port. Dan was supposed to trade our endorsement for those jobs and he failed to secure the deal. What is the point of being in a union of the power to control how commissioner’s vote isn’t there?

  22. The only Reoublican says:

    You might notice that the only Rpublican on the County Commission voted to keep BSO’s CSA team on the job, in essence voting for the Union. Maybe you need to change your thinking and get two more R’s on the BOCC when the “openings” come up (see previous Ritter and Lieberman stories.)