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Why are some of the least educated politicians running for Hillsborough School Board?

By on August 3, 2012

The following is a guest post from attorney Paul Phillips.

Perhaps Hillsborough County is starting to get its act together, as far as the education levels of political candidates is involved. This election year, only a handful of candidates lack a formal college degree. But ironically, of the four without post-secondary degrees, two are running for Hillsborough County School Board. Compared to last election season, when there were nearly a dozen uneducated Republicans seeking higher office, this should be viewed as a vast improvement in the quality of choices we have for higher office.

Terry Kemple, who is running for Hillsborough County School Board District 7, against several other candidates who all hold degrees, is the only one in his race to not to have completed college. Eddy Calcines, who is running for Hillsborough County School Board District 1, does not hold a degree either – although, he did graduate from the Tampa School of Hair Design and is a self-employed author. Of all the public offices up for election, I have always thought that school board should require at least an undergraduate degree, if for anything, to show our students that we value education. It could be reasonably argued that a post-secondary degree should be required to run for school board…but that is just my own personal opinion.

In almost every other campaign, degreed individuals are running for office; however, the Republican primary for Hillsborough County Commission District 6 is the standout race when it comes to uneducated individuals aspiring for your vote. Here both Margaret Iuculano and Don Kruse boast GED’s as their educational credentials, in their bid to topple degree-holding Democrat Kevin Beckner in the fall. I can tell you, given the choice between gay or uneducated, I choose gay every day and twice on Sunday…but again, that’s just me. (But note: I have never been a fan of the anti-gay sentiment and messages from my party in this race so my bias may be obvious).

Of course, there is always some blowback when you discuss the subject of educational requirements for office and arguments can be made on both sides. However, in a county such as Hillsborough, which is large, complex, and host to several national attention-grabbing events like Super Bowls and other conventions, there should be some form of unspoken educational baseline voters use when they vote for the individuals who will be in charge of our children’s education, our cities well-being, our roads, fire departments, ambulance services, etc. Of course there are other factors; and I know a great many people without college degrees whom I respect, admire and value in my life. But when I constantly remind my children the importance of post-secondary education, it is hard for me, personally, to counter that message with a vote for someone who did not seem to find post-secondary education as important as I.  To me, that would seem hypocritical.

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