Why Hillsborough County Schools Need Stephen Gorham – and Must Dump Carol Kurdell

Elections are rarely inflection points – especially as they relate to education – but the Tampa, FL area has one tomorrow.

Hillsborough County Schools have endured a hell of a bumpy ride – and it’s not over. More than a year ago I detailed the tension on the school board and I frequently point to Tampa-area education commentators whose knowledge, honest thought and commitment is, in my opinion, unsurpassed. NYC-area edufolks beat them with volume and vitriol, but Tampa’s got them on genuine quality. Parents, teachers, taxpayers and academic lifers lay bare their thoughts on their local schools, sometimes at significant risk. As an outside interested party, I appreciate it a great deal.

And their school board and administration largely fights them. They’ve got champions in April Griffin and Susan Valdes, but two resilient board members isn’t enough. The established, entrenched and misguided thuggery of the others is a significant hurdle for reform in Tampa.

There’s Jennifer Faliero, whose ineffective chairmanship is a parody of an iron-fisted leader – perhaps a Colonel Klink?; Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia, whose communication and leadership skills rival Lord Cardigan’s; and that series of Toadies – Jack Lamb, Doretha Edgecomb and Candy Olson – who largely fiddle while Rome burns.

But it’s Carol Kurdell who’s on the chopping block this time around. Challengers Stephen Gorham and Jason Mims showed Kurdell’s vulnerability in the primary, and now Gorham is in position to replace her tomorrow.

I’m a staunch, well-versed Conservative – change for the sake of change is unconvincing, misguided and usually detrimental. There’s a time, though, when chronic dysfunction mandates the removal of one and the installation of another.

Carol Kurdell’s tenure on the Hillsborough board has become arthritic. It’s ever-present pain and decreasing functionality that facilitates an arrogance with ignorance that has almost overcome the board.

But again, right now is an inflection point. Hillsborough can switch its direction. No more needless kerfuffles on small expenses, no more embarrassing editorials.

I’d support challenger Stephen Gorham even if he wasn’t the young, well-educated, energetic force that he is.

Kurdell can’t [and shouldn't] be blamed for most of this, but her complacency and partisan inaction – that is, unless she’s got an opportunity for partisan action – is a detrimental force on the ailing board.

That, and her third-rate dishonest politicking. That’s a turn-off, Ms. Kurdell.

If you’re in Hillsborough County, don’t get stuck voting on party affiliation in this one. The Democrats are pushing Gorham and the Republicans have approved Kurdell, but it doesn’t matter. As a registered Republican, I’m comfortable saying that Carol Kurdell is useless and that the state party has made a mistake in approving her.

And I don’t give a whit that the Dem foot soldiers are pounding pavement for Gorham. He’s the better candidate, so Godspeed.

I can’t vote in Hillsborough’s election tomorrow, but I do hope that Mr. Gorham will take his place on their school board.

2 Responses to “Why Hillsborough County Schools Need Stephen Gorham – and Must Dump Carol Kurdell”

  1. JRCB says:

    Excellent post and I made sure that the oval on my ballot today was completely filled in for Stephen Gorham.

  2. JRCB,

    The traffic on this post has been tremendous – it’s shocking how many people are interested in this particular race. I don’t know what turnout will be like, but the ones who *are* turning out are interested in the school board election.

    I do hope he wins – I suppose we’ll find out tonight.


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