Education

Brogan faces Senate committee confirmation

Florida homeboy Frank Brogan — a former Sunshine State lieutenant governor, education commissioner and university-system chancellor — appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Thursday.

Brogan was nominated in December by President Donald Trump to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, noted that the letters of support for Brogan included a missive from Gov. Jeb Bush, Brogan’s top-of-the-ticket running mate in 1998 and 2002.

Brogan left the state in 2013 to become chancellor of Pennsylvania’s university system, a position he held until this past summer.

If you have an hour to kill hearing Senators offer pontificating questions and Brogan’s response, here ya go.

By Jim Turner.

Texas men shouting Nazi slogans arrested after shooting at car in Gainesville

Tenbrink

Tyler Tenbrink

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Colton Fears

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William Fears

Authorities in Florida breathed a sigh of relief after white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech in Gainesville went off with just minor hiccups on Thursday.

The University of Florida avoided the types of confrontations on other campuses that prompted Gov. Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency in Alachua County earlier this month.

A $600,000 security effort resulted in “a mostly peaceful day” in Hogtown, according to a joint press release issued by various law enforcement agencies involved.

According to the press release, the speech resulted in “minimal acts of violence” and two arrests.

But those arrests didn’t include an ugly off-campus confrontation that wound up with three Texas men, two of them brothers, behind bars.

According to a Gainesville Police Department report issued this morning, the Texans — aged 28 to 30 — a violent argument, which took place shortly after Spencer’s speech ended, resulted in gunfire.

Tyler Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Texas; William Fears, 30, and his brother, 28-year-old Colton Fears, both of Passadena, Texas, are all currently in the Alachua County Jail on charges of attempted homicide. Tenbrink is a convicted felon and faces additional charges of possession of a firearm by convicted felon. The Fears brothers are being held on $1 million bond, and Tenbrink is on $3 million bond.

At least two of the three have shown connections to extremist groups, according to a press release issued by the GPD this morning.

Here’s what went down, according to the release:

Shortly before 5:30pm, it was reported that a silver Jeep stopped to argue with a group of protesters and began threatening, offering Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler to the group that was near the bus stop. During the altercation, Tenbrink produced a handgun while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot at the victims. Tenbrink fired a single shot at the group which thankfully missed the group and struck a nearby building. The suspects then fled in a silver jeep.
One of the victims amazingly remained calm and was able to get the vehicle tag number and reported it immediately to law enforcement. Due to the Richard Spencer event, law enforcement resources from the local, state and Federal level were still operating in “Unified Command” which allowed local investigators and FBI analysts to quickly identify the vehicle and possible occupants. This information was immediately relayed to area law enforcement to look for the vehicle.

The Texans were nabbed later Thursday night on I-75 by an Alachua County deputy — with help from local police — on his way home from the Spencer event.

GPD spokesman Ben Tobias praised both the victim and the LEO handling of the situation.

“I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle’s license number” Tobias said. “That key piece of information allowed officials from every level of multiple agencies to quickly identify and arrest these persons. This was an amazing team effort by everyone involved.”

Darnell said the incident and quick response “displays the true teamwork that went into yesterday’s Unified Command Center activation.”

“Information was quickly gathered and disseminated to all law enforcement partners involved and a potentially dangerous situation was averted quickly with the arrests,” she said.

UF Prez Fuchs: “Racist” Spencer “failed miserably”

20171019_161721(0)(1)Late last night, University of Florida President Kent Fuchs penned an op-ed for the school’s newspaper, The Alligator, declaring that white nationalist Richard Spencer “failed miserably to divide our community.”

Spencer was shouted down throughout his speech at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where those who disagreed with his identity politics vastly outnumbered his supporters.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County early in the week, and hundreds of law enforcement from around the state patrolled the campus yesterday. Security costs were estimated to be $600,000.

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Scott, Fuchs and county Sheriff Sadie Darnell were among those who feared a reprisal of violent clashes where Spencer has previously appeared, such as a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Spencer supporters carried tiki torches and chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”Heather Heyer was killed and dozens were injured after a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors.

But the anxiety leading up to the Gainesville event might have been higher than the tension on Thursday. A man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Nazi swastikas was punched. Two other men were arrested for non-violent offenses.

Fuchs praised how the university dealt with what he called Spencer’s message of hate.

“The whole world was watching, and the whole world saw how we responded to a hateful and despicable bully,” the university president wrote.

He also discussed why the university couldn’t ban Spencer from speaking, as many students and faculty members urged, or charge him the full $600,000 tab for security. (Spoiler alert: It’s because of a legal doctrine known as the “heckler’s veto”).

Fuchs also advised students to abandon the old-school protest methods that seemed to work pretty well yesterday.

“I argue old strategies of protest, which include shutting down Spencer and chasing his followers out of town, are exactly what white supremacists need to attract attention and followers.  For Spencer and his ilk, I believe the right strategy is to 1) shun the speaker, his followers and his events, and 2) as loud as possible, speak up with acts of inclusion and love and messages rejecting racism and white nationalism,” he wrote.

Read Fuchs’s full piece here.

DeVos leaves students in the lurch

518eq5NjZkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Education Secretary Betsy DeVos literally left a group of kindergartners in the “lurch” during a visit to a Tallahassee school Tuesday.

DeVos read the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go! to students at Holy Comforter Episcopal School.

“You can get all hung up/ in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on/ You’ll be left in a Lurch,” DeVos read, pausing.

“Do you know what a lurch is?” she asked the students.

Several tots said “no.”

And, while DeVos acknowledged the wide-eyed responses, instead of providing an explanation, she plowed back into the book.

“You’ll come down from the Lurch/ with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then,/ that you’ll be in a Slump.”

As Theodor Seuss Geisel would later note in the same story: “On and on you will hike, And I know you’ll hike far/ and face up to your problems whatever they are.”

Is Albritton breathing a sigh of relief?

jdAfter toying with the possibility earlier this year, former state Sen. JD Alexander has nixed a return to the upper chamber, according to a report yesterday in The Ledger.

Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican who served as the powerful budget chief before leaving office in 2012 due to term limits, had considered challenging Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, for an open Senate seat being vacated by Sebring Republican Denise Grimsley, who is running for state agriculture commissioner.

Alexander said he ruled out a bid to return to the Senate after considering the impact on his business activities, including running Atlantic Property Co., a real estate investment firm.

“The financial costs of changing focus were too much,” he said. “We have projects right now that are doing well but are works in progress.”

Alexander floated the notion of a Senate re-run after lawmakers contemplated a funding cut to his local state college.

While he’s not a threat to Albritton, Alexander didn’t exactly give the Senate hopeful a glowing endorsement.

“Ben’s not a bad guy,” he told The Ledger. “I just hope he’ll try harder.”

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger.

 

Brogan saying bye-bye to PA

broganFrank Brogan, a onetime education wonder-boy in Florida, is quitting his job as chancellor of Pennsylvania’s state university system.

The resignation announcement, effective Sept. 1, was unexpected when made Monday afternoon, according to a story posted by philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News website:

“The chancellor of Pennsylvania’s state university system, which is about to undergo changes in the wake of financial and enrollment woes, will retire Sept. 1, a decision that was announced unexpectedly Monday afternoon.

 Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, 63, informed the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s board of governors last Wednesday, just before a much-anticipated report on restructuring the system was released to the board and the public, said Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the system.”

 The Morning Call noted the move coincides “with a consultant’s report that found the agency plagued by weak leadership and dysfunctional management.”

Brogan, who served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Jeb! Bush, rose through the education ranks, from an elementary school teacher to superintendent of Martin County Schools. Brogan, 63, was elected Florida’s education commissioner in 1994. He also served as president of Florida Atlantic University and chancellor of the State University System of Florida before leaving for the Keystone State job in 2013.

Posted by Jim Turner.

First Amendment Foundation joins call for Scott veto of education measure

IMG_1635 (1)Add the First Amendment Foundation to the chorus of voices asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a sweeping education bill.

The proposal includes $419 million for teacher bonuses and other spending outside of the main per-student education funding in the state’s annual spending plan.

Associations representing Florida school boards and school superintendents have asked Scott to axe the bill (HB 7069), perhaps best known for its inclusion of a funding program for “schools of hope,” including charter schools in areas with academically struggling traditional schools, and an expansion of the “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus system.

In a letter to Scott sent Tuesday, FAF President Barbara Petersen said her open-government organization isn’t objecting to the public policy in the proposal, but has concerns related “only to the lack of transparency in the process by which major policy decisions regarding Florida’s education system were decided.”

The measure — which includes pieces of roughly a dozen separate bills considered during the legislative session — emerged from budget negotiations late in the legislative session that ended earlier this month.

The policy decisions included in the bill “were largely decided in secret by a small number of legislators,” Petersen wrote.

“The secretive process precluded any opportunity for public oversight or input on major changes to Florida’s education policy.   Alarmingly, local school officials were also shut out of the process, as were many legislators who were ultimately asked to approve this voluminous and complicated legislation decided in a manner closed even to them,” she went on.

“Our citizens deserve the respect and the commitment of our elected leaders to uphold our Florida Sunshine laws, a 33 years old tradition and benchmark of good government,” Petersen, a lawyer, concluded.