Miami-Dade Schools Vice Chair brings down the house during scorching speech on NSBA

By PineApple Report Staff | December 2, 2021

TAMPA, Fla.—In a gripping speech from the floor of the board of directors’ meeting of the Florida School Board Association, a representative from Miami-Dade County School Board was adamant that leaving the National School Board Association was timely and necessary.

In his speech, Dr. Steve Gallon, a 30-year educational leader and vice chair of the nation’s fourth largest school district, pointed to a number of controversies which made the NSBA a liability to Florida’s members, including its lack of financial stability, its lack of credibility, and its overly partisan role in education.

“I am a man who believes leadership is action, not position,” said Gallon. “It is not a construct that is restricted to organizational membership or affiliation. Our leadership, through our actions guided by accountability, integrity, and transparency, rests on a fulcrum of service above self.”

Gallon, who arguably has the most to lose by the FSBA’s decision to leave the national organization as the chairman of its powerful Council of Urban Boards of Education, laid out a compelling case, driving home point after point as he read a letter written to the NSBA, which received no response from any of the organization’s board members.

Gallon said that when it came to integrity and ethics versus self-interest, there was no question, he would choose his integrity.

“Based on deep personal convictions, I cannot support the continued membership in an organization whose core leadership had willfully and knowingly undercut long established partnerships in their choosing of divisive partisan politics.”

Broward School Board member Nora Rupert

Nora Rupert, school board member from Broward County, said Gallon’s impassioned speech was important because it “galvanized the entire board of directors to take unanimous action.”

Now Florida is poised to “have conversations with other state chapters to create a better, more transparent, and accountable organization focused on student outcomes and professional development tied to the best education for all students,” said Rupert, who has worked to reduce the achievement gap between at-risk children in her district.

First year School Board Member Jon Arguello, whose election, along with Julius Melendez and Teresa Castillo, turned Osceola into a Hispanic majority board (see article here), agreed, also voicing concerns regarding the actions of the NSBA.

Osceola School Board Member Jon Arguello

“Dr. Gallon expressed what many of us know to be true,” said Arguello. “Those partisan aspects of education only force us to deviate from leading our districts to the best possible outcomes and high-quality governance. I commend Dr. Gallon, not on his incredible speech, but on his leadership and demonstration of servant leadership.”

The speech led many in the room to speak about what Gallon’s leadership role in the state should be, with some board members even mentioning the possibility of a future commissioner of education role.

Dr. Gallon didn’t only have an impact on FSBA board members.

“I can see why people are asking what’s next for Dr. Gallon, the governor even tweeted a response to his speech and FSBA’s actions,” said an educational lobbyist who wishes to remain anonymous. “The profile of educational leaders is quickly rising because education is front and center when we talk about important governmental decisions. This only emphasized his already credible reputation.”

See Dr. Gallon’s full letter to the NSBA here.


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