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A three-sentence announcement from the office of Gov. Rick Scott has shaken up a pre- viously quiet race for a spot on the Sarasota County School Board. In his terse statement, Scott appointed candidate Bridget Ziegler to a vacant spot on the board, prompting sharp criticism from Ziegler's opponents and other locals who say the decision was rooted in political favoritism rather than sound educa- tional policy. But the race is about much more than Rick Scott, with at least one candidate criticizing the board's embrace of the national educa- tion standards known as Common Core, and another arguing that the board's most press- ing task is to reach the children now being left behind. Ken Marsh retired from the school system this spring after decades as a staffer and plan- ner. When he visits with civic organizations and parents' groups, the number one con- cern is always "those struggling students that still aren't making it," he tells The Sarasota News Leader. There's no silver bullet for the problem, Marsh emphasizes, but he says it's vital to seek teacher input on how best to reach kids falling behind. He credits the school system for offering technical alternatives to tradi- tional education, praising the new Sarasota County Technical Institute facility at Beneva and Proctor roads in Sarasota and the new, in-the-works North Port SCTI campus. (See the related story in this issue.) "[If elected] my first opportunity to really have an impact on programs and policies that have budget implications is going to be in the winter and the spring," Marsh says, "and I would be working with the other four board members on this issue of how to reach the struggling students better. We do great with gifted and cluster programs. We need some- how to be able to reach out to those kids that aren't making it." Marsh's opponent, Geoffrey Fisher, blames "the achievement gap" on what he sees as the absence of fathers in the African-American community. "Fathers are vital," he says. "Don't relegate them to some ancillary position Sarasota County School Board candidate Ken Marsh. Photo courtesy Ken Marsh` GOV. SCOTT'S INTERVENTION IN A SCHOOL BOARD RACE HAS GRABBED HEADLINES, BUT OTHER ISSUES AT STAKE, TOO By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Sarasota News Leader June 20, 2014 Page 13

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