School Reform – No Child Left Behind is a concept that, I believe, was created with the best of intentions. But, how often have we heard the phrase that not all children learn the same so why do we teach them using the same techniques. I think it is time we look at how we define intelligence. If a person has an aptitude for math, that person is usually described as smart. However, if a person can take apart an engine and put it back together from a picture but reads on a second grade level that ability is often described as a talent not intelligence. History is filled with people who did not excel in or complete traditional school but who are highly successful. I agree that an education is important but how we educate is equally, if not more, important. We need to help children recognize their strengths, their talents, and help them to grow. Standardized testing is part of the problem. Often a student’s time is spent learning how to take the test. I have often heard the comment “teachers teach the test”. I believe that educators should teach youth how to think; how to problem solve.
Gun Safety – First, I’d like to say how proud I am of Florida’s students who have, with great success, exercised their First Amendment rights. Largely because of their efforts, Governor Rick Scott and the State Legislature recently passed new laws designed to protect Floridians from gun violence. These changes include raising the minimum age for the purchase of firearms from 18 to 21, creating a waiting period of 3 days or until the completion of a background check (with exceptions), banning bump stocks, funding school security and expanding mental health services for students. I do not believe this legislation infringes on the rights of any citizen, but I also do not believe it adequately addresses the issue of assault weapons. The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 prior to the invention of the repeater rifle, much less assault weapons. Our gun legislation needs to continually evolve in order to protect our citizens, our children. Common sense legislation needs to be passed to address the sale/purchase of these weapons. If a person wishes to own such a weapon, then a specific permit needs to be applied for and issued after a thorough background check is completed. I do not think responsible gun owners would object to a tracking system for the sale and resale of such weapons in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, or persons with mental health problems.
Public Assistance – I believe that there are times in a person’s life when assistance may be needed. However, I do not believe that public assistance should become a way of life; I believe in self-reliance. Therefore, if someone is receiving public assistance, I think they should be required to participate in programs designed to aid that person in becoming self-reliant. These programs would include many things: learning how to fill out an application; learning English; training for a specific skill, etc. These programs could also offer access to a variety of classes to further education. A person receiving assistance would be required to participate in and complete basic requirements. Similar to the workplace, the recipient would be required to clock in and out and achieve certain goals. By the end of the program, job placement assistance would be provided. Florida already has a number of programs available that teach these skills, but they are not mandatory. There is no such thing as free money. If a person receives public assistance, then he should be willing to participate in such programs.
Employment – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Florida’s unemployment rate has been holding steady at 3.9% for the past 6 months. Job creation, wages fairness, and advancement are always of concern. There are some jobs, typically fast food, cashiers, & pizza delivery (one of my favorite jobs while I was in school), that are meant to be starter jobs or, possibly, additional part time jobs. These jobs are for students or those just entering the employment market. They were not designed to support a family. They are minimum wage jobs. Many of these jobs offer advancement opportunities into a career. As for state jobs, I believe that there needs to a be a review of all departments to ensure that State of Florida Employees are being treated fairly in regards to wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Environment – Florida is a beautiful state; our beaches, lakes, and even our swamps. Our coastlines provide access to beaches, harbors, recreation, and so much more. These activities provide revenue which supports the locals and our state and local governments. We have an abundance of crops and fresh water as well as mining operations. We need to protect our resources and our environment. Florida is the Sunshine State and the development of solar projects will provide jobs and help protect our state’s resources.
Infrastructure – Florida’s population continues to grow and, as we have all witnessed over the past few years, weather patterns have changed and storms have become more frequent and stronger. Florida needs to find ways to protect our coastline, roads, power plants, drinking water , ports and more. I am neither an engineer nor an expert but open discussions with people who are will help keep Florida safe. Although hospitals, retirement homes, and other structures do not fall under the state’s infrastructure responsibilities; state regulations need to ensure that these structures are safe for Florida’s citizens.
Crime – We need to protect all citizens from crime. Violent crime, gang crimes and drug related crime are always on the radar. Other crimes are on the rise; these include cybercrimes, identity theft, and crimes affecting our seniors. Training for law enforcement is a key aspect when discussing crime. Reviewing the juvenile system, the Department of Corrections, and the jail system in order to find effective programs for this population will be a high priority.