Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent a “workday” Monday in Lynn Haven shadowing Mosley High School’s senior class president.
Graham caddied around Caroline Noble’s backpack, listened to her classmates and participated in school assignments. The former congresswoman was also around for the morning announcement broadcast, lunch and a tour of the school’s technical classes and ROTC.
“I have been a mom, PTA president, public school official, and spent Workdays with teachers across the state, but it’s been a few years since I have been a student — and what better way to experience today’s public schools than as a student,” Graham said. “The politicians in Tallahassee have become caught up in ideological battles and sold out to the education industry. They’ve forgotten what public school is really about: educating our children.”
Graham also got to listen to a lecture or two from her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who dropped by economics, government and history classes to talk about the importance of civics education.
The trip to the Bay County school was one her campaign’s “workdays,” where the candidate puts herself into the shoes of her would-be constituents to better understand their everyday lives. The events are a staple in her campaigns and those of her father, who served two terms as Florida governor in the 1980s followed by three terms in the senate.
Graham has spent a couple workdays now at Florida public high schools, and said the number of tests and the weight they have on student success is a top concern among the the students she’s met.
“At schools from Panama City to Miami, I’ve asked students what their number one challenge in school is and the overwhelming response is the ridiculous amount of high-stakes testing,” she said. “We all agree there’s an appropriate role for testing, to measure a student’s growth, but the current scheme benefits the for-profit education industry, not our children.”
Graham added that taking on the education industry would be one of her top priorities if Floridians elect her next year.
“I will end high-stakes testing, end the arbitrary system of school grades, and end the lottery shell game, which has diverted funds meant for our public schools,” she said. “It’s time to finally pay teachers what they deserve, reduce class sizes and renew our promise to public schools.”
Bay County School District Superintendent Bill Husfelt said he appreciated both Graham’s stopping by the school and their support for public schools.
“I encourage every public official to spend a day in a school and walk in the students’ shoes. There’s no better way to learn about today’s public schools than by visiting them and listening to teachers, parents, and students,” he said.