Jeff Lytle: Mind your p's and q's if you're running for School Board

Paul Schafer's email exchange has led me to a New Year's resolution — to stop covering up for School Board candidates displaying a lack of concern for a fundamental spelling.

It's easier, to be sure, to look the other way and/or think, "Hey, everyone can't be a spelling bee champ; what's more important is a candidate's vision for leadership."

Right?

After all, I live in a glass house — one without a lock on perfect spelling.

I also recall once reproducing the actual hard-copy letter of a critic of public schools that showed warts and all — the poor spelling and grammar of someone who demanded teachers and students do better.

That technical move was roundly criticized as mean-spirited on my part.

But that was then and this is now.

I think the public is more ready for the real stuff.

Against that background, Schafer — a former substitute teacher locally and school board and community college policymaker elsewhere — was a stranger to me before emailing an essay that he headlined "Moving Education into the 21st Century."

It started out:

"The Lee County School Board has moved in the right direction by making improvement to the school bussing situation. Now they need to reach for higher common core standards as outlined by Superintended Burke to prepare our children for the future."

Superintended?

When I called it to his attention he replied: "Sorry about the miss spelled word."

Good grief.

Then I noticed that I had missed "bussing," which means kissing.

And the closing words of his initial submission: "Tank you."

Good grief again.

This guy is running for School Board.

With that many errors in a bunch, I decided I had to shed some light for the public whose schools he seeks to lead by example.

I asked him: "How are we to take your candidacy seriously if you cannot spell fundamental words?"

"Please reply," I added, "for the record."

"Jeff, I am very serious about running for the Lee County School Board," Schafer responded. "After reading and re-reading my ideas, it seems I didn't see a couple of misspelled words. I did run spell-check, and the words didn't come up.

"Thanks for making me aware, and I will be more diligent in the future."

We will see.

Other school board candidates in Collier and Lee counties are apprised of their opportunities to stay out of this column for sloppy work.

Still, you wonder how many students in classrooms in Lee or anywhere else could get passing grades for mistakes blamed on technology.

A line of Schafer's essay on school improvement rings in my ears: "Too many excellent teachers are becoming discouraged and leave our schools to go elsewhere."

Gee. Wonder why?

n n n

Terrific, unexpected news from Florida Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples.He reports real progress and optimism on legislation that would allow maximum life-saving impact from automatic external defibrillators located in public places such as restaurants, gyms, country clubs, offices, stores and condos.

Interpretations of state medical-information privacy rules keeps emergency dispatchers from telling anyone other than certified first responders such as paramedics about someone's health crisis, even though someone with the necessary rescue gear may be in the same building.

This column has been hammering away at this for a while now, and Richter sends word that he is working with Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, to get some common sense through the Tallahassee maze in the coming weeks.

"Hopefully," he ventures, "this issue will be addressed and settled this session."

That would be so great.

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When Collier voters cast ballots in the Jan. 31 elections that will include what's left of the GOP presidential primary, City Council elections in Naples and tax hikes for fire districts in Golden Gate, East Naples and Immokalee, who will be eligible to take part?

Unofficial rolls from the Collier Supervisor of Elections Office shows 88,600 of 170,585 voters countywide as Republicans.

Only 14 percent or 14,500 of the Collier total are in the city.

The East Naples and Golden Gate districts have about the same number of voters, 35,000, while Immokalee has 3,770.

Countywide, women have men voters outnumbered, while the over-66 crowd comprises the largest voter bloc, with more than 65,000 of the total. Within the city limits, those seniors swell to more than half the total, with women again in the lead.

Note the city share of the countywide electorate — further evidence that Naples is no longer the center of the Collier political universe.

Early voting starts Jan. 16.

Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His email address is jlytle@naplesnews.com. Call him at 263-4773.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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