Dr. Jeff's Priorities
Candidate for School Board of Broward County, Countywide, At-Large, Seat 9
I am sincerely driven by a fervent desire to;
Improving School Safety and Security
Help our children through a very difficult period in our County and our nation’s history of needing to feel safe in our schools,
Addressing Students' Mental Health
Identify and work on mental health issues affecting our children today,
Meeting ESE Students' Needs
Better address the needs of our children with learning disabilities,
Valuing and Respecting, Teachers, School Staff, Students and Parents
Take better care of our teachers through emphasis on value, respect and actions so they can be in a better position to take care of our children and
Building Community Relationships
Work with everyone including municipalities to achieve the best results in helping our children collectively heal and succeed in Broward County Schools.
Improving School Safety And Security
Like many of our parents and students, Dr. Holness is concerned about safety of all stakeholders in the Era of COVID-19 and safety and security in general of Broward County Schools. Today as we continue the ongoing efforts to secure our schools, we now have to deal with an invisible enemy, COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 is a major concern and felt by all residents across our County. Dr. Holness’ desire is to work cooperatively in a united spirit with the current Board and the Superintendent to find real solutions to our pressing safety problems. His goal is to work to renew and increase parents and students’ confidence in the safety of schools in Broward.
WORDS FROM DR. HOLNESS
SAFETY IN THE PERIOD OF COVID-19
Children are living in unprecedented times. As our children continue to deal with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) tragedy they are now having to also deal with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Pandemic has created significant challenges and consequences than we’ve ever seen before in how we keep our children safe while providing them with a high-quality education. The ideal option for best academic learning outcomes will always be to have students at the schools’ physical locations. Therefore, there may be a COVID slide in education and student learning as we proceed to the first semester of school year 2020-2021. Nevertheless, safety of our students, families and staff is priority. My hope is that our County and State can work diligently to get the positive rate of COVID-19 down (currently at 16%) to a safer level so our students and parents can have more choices in learning. In the meantime, I will work to ensure that our e-learning environment is enhanced and safe.
I believe in valuing the input of all stakeholders and developing solutions accordingly while prioritizing children safety and delivery of high-quality instructions. I will ensure that there is input from all stakeholders including parents, teachers, staff and students on all areas of safety and scheduling when we reopen physical school campuses. Upon reopening schools, I will support policies and procedures to keep our children, parents, teachers and staff safe. I will ensure social distancing, wearing of masks, sanitizing and cleaning daily, temperature checking and so forth.
As a Kumon math and reading business owner who has responded to COVID 19 by transitioning my learning center to a vibrant enhance and safe online platform and also has plans and procedures in place for reopening the physical location, I will be able to add value in this area in helping the district adapt and reopen safely and successfully. While the district waits to reopen schools’ physical locations, I will strive to have an e-learning environment that is much improved and enhanced than we had before with less dependence on parents’ involvement especially for English Language Learner Students and students with various learning challenges and disabilities. I will ensure that there is more teacher/student contact, greater student educational and tech support services and access, teacher, student and parent training on using online learning, clear policies for online security, discipline, role, and expectations, improved communication access among teachers, students, parents, leadership and school mental health personnel, and consistency across schools with grading, student assessments and assignments’ content and volume.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: MSD
Many parents of kids who attend public schools in Parkland, including myself, are dealing with our children’s fragile emotional state months after the Parkland shooting and it seems for years to come. We must find real solutions that will help our children all across Broward County and all of us feel safer. I have observed changes in my own children, feelings of anxiety, of uncertainty, of confusion and of sadness; it has devastated so many of our children emotionally. The healing process will continue to be painful for years to come and will not be forgotten for many of us. School safety and mental health of our Broward County School children is of personal interest to me and a high priority on my agenda. I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure that this never happens to our kids in Broward County again.
I will support extensive initiatives to make our schools safer. However, I do not support arming teachers and do not believe doing so will make schools safer. I do not support any part of Senate Bill 7030 involving arming teachers as teachers’ primary roles are not to protect and defend our classrooms through arms and weapons but instead to teach and care for our children so they can have a bright future. Security personnel should be in charge of protecting and teachers in charge of teaching.
I am committed to doing everything I can to make our schools safe. I support the following;
- Identifying and working to address the mental health of our children by adding more counselors, psychologists, and social workers to provide mental health and wellness services
- Strong initiatives to address matters involving bullying and discrimination in schools
- Increasing security staff and having a Broward Schools department whose sole purpose is to handle security and safety concerns in schools
- Continued risk assessments being done to determine what’s needed to ensure the safety of every school in Broward County.
- Continuous student and staff training on active shooter and other threat situations
- The wearing of IDs by all staff, students, parents, and visitors.
- Limiting and controlling access to schools. Having single point of entry for all visitors, students and staff. In addition, the locking and securing of all school entry points including classroom doors, school doors and gates.
- Having adequate and top of the line surveillance cameras, communication radios along with improved intercom systems in every school
- Strong school relationships with law enforcement, first responders and the community.
- School promotion and formation of student support groups and initiatives to improve student acceptance, assimilation and relationships
- The active involvement of students in ensuring school safety and support initiatives for student reporting such as SaferWatch App, FortifyFL, reporting on the 24/7 security hotline at 754-321-0911, Texting CRIMES (message must begin with SBBC), or reporting online at broward.k12.fl.us/siu/siunew/tipsemail.asp
- Holding schools and their leadership accountable to report to the district all students incidences on campus. Giving teachers and staff a channel as well to report incidences directly to the district
- Local and state elected officials who are fighting for better gun control laws to protect our children and communities.
Identifying And Working On Mental Health Issues Affecting Our Children
It is estimated that almost 50 percent of children ages 13 to 18 have a mental disorder. A significant number of these children suffer from anxiety disorder and/or major depressive episodes. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for children 10 to 14 years old and the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 44 years old. Mental Health problems significantly affect students’ ability to realize their full potential. The State of Florida lags way behind in the amount of interest and funding provided to address mental health issues affecting our children. Dr. Holness will place great emphasis on identifying and working on mental health issues affecting our youth in Broward County Schools. Dr. Jeff Holness supports increasing the number of health professionals in our schools including psychologists, guidance counselors, and family therapists to work effectively with students affected by mental health issues. Dr. Holness supports and embraces a collective approach in engaging other community agencies and municipalities to work collaboratively on issues of mental health affecting our students.
Words from Dr. Holness:
Florida, which is the third largest populated state in the country, has consistently received low ratings on how it addresses youth mental health, according to the nonprofit Mental Health America. Recently, Florida became the third state in the nation to require schools to teach students about mental health issues. Even though this is some improvement in addressing youth mental health, we need to do much more. I will put the mental health of children in Broward County Schools at the forefront of any major education discussion. According to Huffpost, “(Florida’s) rate of youth suffering from major depressive episodes was found to have increased from 11.93% to 12.63% over the past year. Data also showed that 62% of these children received no treatment for their depression.”
Three thousand three hundred and thirty two Floridians died from suicide in 2018. Every 11.9 minutes there is a suicide and every 30 seconds there is an attempted suicide. Yet the fact remains that 80 to 90 percent of people suffering from mental illness who get treatment survive and enjoy a productive life. Dr. Holness will make identifying and working on mental illness affecting our Broward students of the highest priority and ensure that they get the right treatment and care to overcome these issues.
Valuing and Respecting, Teachers, School Staff, Students and Parents
Dr. Holness, a prior Broward Schools teacher and an educator in Broward County for over 20 years, believes we should value and respect our teachers, ESPs and school staff through our actions. He supports better compensation for teachers and staff, better and longer contract terms for teachers, improved working conditions, smaller class sizes, adequate resources, less emphasis on test-driven approaches, more planning time, reasonable and fair teacher evaluations, and choices for affordable health insurances for teachers, staff and their families. Dr. Holness strongly believes that when we value and respect our teachers and ESPs we are also valuing and respecting our students and parents, and we are indeed putting children first. He will be a strong voice for our teachers and support/school staff. He will work diligently to ensure that through actions our teachers are respected, recognized and valued.
Words from Dr. Holness:
Teachers are overworked and underpaid with unreasonable demands being placed on them daily. Our teachers rank 46 in the nation in teachers’ salary and our state is 41 in the nation in per student funding. This is just unacceptable. We must do better. As a past teacher in Broward for over 17 years, I will be a strong advocate for our teachers who deserve so much more.
I believe teachers should be valued and respected through actions that yield results in better compensation, better benefits, adequate resources and support, reduce stress levels surrounding subjective evaluations and less test-driven instruction. I will work diligently to eliminate the emphasis and practice of teaching to state standardized tests. This puts teachers and students under unreasonable pressure and should shift to educative and fun learning environments that are rich and nourishing to students to put them in wholesome positions to be well rounded and globally competitive. We must also enhance professional developments for our ESPs. In my view, taking good care of our teachers is synonymous with putting children first. It starts with looking out for our teachers and ESPs.
Lack of state funding for education and teachers pay is a major challenge. I will join with our state legislators and others for better school funding so our district can take better care of our teachers and staff and provide them with adequate resources so Broward Schools’ children can have a rich learning environment to realize their maximum potential.
Additionally, I believe it is important for administrators to involve teachers and others more in decision making processes such as those involving academic initiatives, safety, behavior management and discipline. I believe a more inclusive approach to decision making will suit the county and schools best that involves a collective decision making process by all stakeholders including our teachers and school staff.
I will work to create better and more support for our new teachers to be successful and enjoy the teaching profession. I will promote initiatives that encourage teachers/Admin collaboration in a positive work environment. I will ensure that new teachers have adequate resources and training in areas that are important for success such as behavior management and discipline. Furthermore, I will work to ensure that we value and respect our veteran teachers and recognize their contribution to the success of our children.
I will keep our teachers at the forefront of budget discussions and make decisions always to put teachers and school staff’s interest over goods. By taking care of our teachers and support staff we are indeed putting children first! I will work to ensure we provide adequate benefits, resources, and support for our teachers and school staff.
As a prior teacher, Dr. Holness will fight for our teachers!
Meeting The Needs Of ESE Kids
Dr. Holness Strongly Supports Providing the Highest Quality Education for Students with Learning Disabilities in educational environments that are conducive to their learning. Dr. Jeff Holness is certified by Broward County Schools and the State of Florida in Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities and he understands the needs of our children with learning challenges. He has worked as an experienced lead teacher in Broward County Schools and served as the primary teacher representative on the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) team during Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings for ESE students. In this role, he participated in the collaborative process of writing and reviewing ESE students’ Individual Education Plans (IEP) with parents. Dr. Holness is also the parent of an ESE child giving him hands on experience dealing with these issues day to day to help your children in schools.
He will fight for Broward’s ESE population!
Words from Dr. Holness:
There are over 32, 000 students with learning disabilities in Broward County Schools. Their learning outcomes can be negatively affected when accommodations are inadequate or are not properly implemented. There are many students in Broward County Schools whose disabilities are not identified for various reasons including many parents not being knowledgeable of the processes and benefits of evaluating their children so appropriate accommodations can be given. In some instances the schools may not be reasonably proactive in identifying students with learning disabilities.
I will work to ensure that as a school district we provide a high-quality education for our students with learning disabilities. This includes students with ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), SLD (Specific Learning Disabilities such as Dyslexia), DHH (Deaf or having difficulty hearing students), SI (Speech Impairment), LI (Language Impairment), VI (Visual Impairment) and others.
As a parent of an ESE student, I fully understand the frustration in not only having a well written IEP in place but having schools, teachers and staff not properly implementing them with adequate knowledge, care, and interest. I will make sure all teachers and staff are properly trained to understand specific disabilities, given the right resources to instruct and manage ESE students, monitored and held accountable to effectively instruct ESE students in their classrooms. I will work to ensure that every Exceptional Student Education (ESE) child receives the right accommodations based on his or her unique needs to be successful in Broward County Schools. I will hold the district, schools and staff accountable to identify and meet the needs of ESE students. I will do everything I can to make sure our ESE students’ needs are met and that they receive a high-quality education across all Broward schools. Therefore, I will ensure that every documented ESE (Exceptional Student Education) student in Broward County Schools is provided with appropriate support and services according to a well written parent inclusive Individual Education Plan (IEP) based on each child’s specific needs.
I will work diligently with schools and the district to put processes that work in place to identify students who may show signs of learning challenges. I will promote initiatives to engage our parents in discussions to act in having these students evaluated so they too can receive the right accommodations to maximize their learning outcomes and secure their future to become productive citizens of our society. I will ensure that our parents are well informed of their role in the process of meeting the needs of our ESE students including their participation and involvement in the writing of the IEPs.
I will make sure that no child with a learning disability in Broward Schools receives a failing grade on any class assignment unless the school and the staff can provide well written documentation that comprehensive accommodations were given according to the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP.) I will ensure that schools and the district are in full compliance with all aspects of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and that our Broward ESE students are receiving Free Appropriate Public Education based on their individual learning needs.
I believe every child is entitled to a high-quality education in high quality schools free from any and all forms of discrimination. I will work to ensure that our ESE and other students feel safe, secure and happy throughout their day, every day at Broward County Schools. I intend to work with schools, staff, district and students to develop and implement programs that will support student assimilation with care, understanding, compassion and kindness.
I will fight with you and for you! I will fight for our ESE population!
Building Strong Relationships and Partnerships with Communities and Local, County and State Governments
Dr. Holness’ desire is to help to create positive and meaningful change working with all sources including municipalities, county government, state legislators, churches, community organizations and others in the interest of our students in Broward County Schools.
Words from Dr. Holness:
We have serious crises facing our children and they are common problems that are not specific to the School Board. When elected, I intend to engage our municipal governments, legislators and others to work together to find workable solutions to secure the wellbeing and future of our children. I have already started engaging municipalities including meeting with elected officials from various cities including Plantation and Tamarac on working together on school related concerns pertaining to learning outcomes and safety of our Broward students. I will continue to work with the current board members to see how we can improve community relations and be more responsive to the needs and wellbeing of the community.
Your Donation Matters
Your support would mean a lot to me and to the children of Broward County.
Putting Children First! Donate Today! Dr. Jeff Holness, The Right Choice!