By Bill Korach.
Terry Kemple is running for the District 6 School Board seat of Hillsborough County, Florida in which Tampa is located. Mr. Kemple is perhaps best known as President of Community Issues Council, a faith-based group that has organized parent protests against The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) an Islamic terrorist organization from speaking in Hillsborough public schools. Mr. Kemple and his significant base of Tampa parents believe that CAIR has no place in Tampa schools because they are linked to Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States Department of State. In the past the Community Issues Council has protest the aggressive promotion of homosexuality in Tampa public schools.
I asked Mr. Kemple why he is running for the school board seat. He said:
“I believe our students in Hillsborough County are being underserved. Although Hillsborough has an annual school budget of $3 Billion, Florida’s 8th largest district, over 30% of our students fail to graduate from high school. Many who do graduate and go on to college are unprepared for college level work. At least 30% of Hillsborough students who go on to community college require 1 or 2 years of remedial education in math and science. I have also spoken with many business owners who say that Hillsborough students are unprepared for the workplace environment. For example, students who enter fields requiring vocational skills are unable to read a yardstick and add feet and inches.”
So, is there a place for vocational schools?
“College is not for everyone. Vocational schools teach skills that are and will remain in demand. Young people more than ever need jobs, and vocational schools could equip some of our students with the skills to find those jobs.’
Speaking of jobs, I asked Mr. Kemple if there is a connection between education and jobs in Hillsborough County.
“Businesses need a well educated workforce. Businesses located in Hillsborough County do not want to pay tax money for education and then pay again to train poorly educated employees. Businesses considering a move to Hillsborough County want to know that they can draw upon an educated workforce. Either way, educational excellence is linked to job growth.”
Why the Hillsborough Schools are underperforming?
“There has been a focus away from the basic learning in math, science and English, and a move toward what I call ‘the socio-political agenda.’ This includes multiculturalism, that’s why CAIR is in the schools, an effort to promote homosexuality, global government through things like U.N. developed Agenda 21….you get the picture. So much time is dedicated to these things that there is much less time for core learning. Another factor driving poor performance is that discipline problems are swept under the rug. If students are held back for poor performance, or scores are low Federal Funds are withheld. Schools hate to give up the money, so unqualified kids get social promotion.”
What about parental rights?
“I believe that this school board has often ignored parental rights, and unless there is a strong parent teacher relationship, learning will not take place. The Community Issues Council has attended over 13 School Board meetings with at least 100 families in attendance for each meeting protesting CAIR. The School Board continues to ignore the majority of parent concerns about allowing a member of a terrorist organization to speak in our schools.
Here’s another example: in order to give the Muslims a holiday, the School Board cancelled Good Friday as a holiday, and made it a school day. The first year they did this 62% of students stayed home. The second year 45% stayed home. Many of the bus drivers also stayed home, yet the School Board remains intransigent on this matter. I pointed out that the wasted day has cost the school district $16 Million, but the Board is considering a repetition of their mistake for the next year.”
I asked whether a larger budget is necessary to improve results.
“Hillsborough has a $3 Billion budget that should be more that adequate. What is needed is budget transparency. I have been unable to obtain a detailed budget. The School Board seems to prefer to manage the budget “under the radar.’ Recently, Hillsborough received a Bill Gates grant, and the grant was presented to the pubic as a gift. But the grant has strings attached that were kept from the public eye. It required $255 Million paid for by Hillsborough taxpayers. Dr. Stacy White on the School Board made a motion to require greater clarity on budget items over $1 Million, but the rest of the Board voted it down. I absolutely support improved budget transparency.”
A McKinsey study ranked American students in the bottom 33% of developed nations in math and science. I asked Mr. Kemple if he was aware of any thing new in math and science programs that have been proven effective.
“The Naval Aviation Museum right here in Florida has a wonderful STEM (science, math, technology) program and they are currently working with school districts in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The program mimics Naval Aviation Missions and brings math and science problems to life. During the years that the program has operated, students have shown a 40% improvement in scores. These programs are now being offered more broadly and this is the kind of thing we need to investigate for Hillsborough Schools.”
I ask Mr. Kemple: “What qualifies you for a seat on the School Board?”
“A School Board member has two basic responsibilities: 1. Make policy and 2. Approve the budget. My platform of parental advocacy, financial accountability, and budget transparency seeks to transform and elevate our public school system, not merely rubber stamp the status quo. I am an advocate for Parents’ Rights, President Community Issues Council. I Attended US Naval Academy and Newark College of Engineering. I have children and grandchildren who graduated from and enrolled in Hillsborough Public School. And I have 25 years business management & ownership experience. I encourage voters to go to my website and learn more about how I would improve our public schools http://www.vote4terrykemple.com/