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SRQ DAILY Aug 28, 2021

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

" I don’t expect an apology, but I do expect harassing emails and social media posts like that to be taken down."

- Shirley Brown, Sarasota County School Board
 

[Under The Hood]  Public Opinion Seen On Children's Faces
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

It seemed a risky move a week ago when the Sarasota County School Board voted in favor of a no opt-out mask policy. The district became the first in a Republican-majority county (grant it one with a majority Democrat School Board) to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates in public schools.

But a judge’s order verified what many on the side of masks long suspected. The Governor could not force school districts not to take action to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the Board of Education had no authority to withhold funding from schools to deny superintendents and school board members their rightful salaries for doing their job. More recent scuttlebutt about actually removing elected officials from office for “violating the law” just wasn’t going to pass muster in the courts.

Expect a mandate to stay in place in schools until positivity rates go down.

That ruling shows the follow of an absolutely brutal public opinion campaign waged online against School Board Chair Shirley Brown. A former Democratic lawmaker, she argued last week the Department of Education could not suddenly decide, as DeSantis maintained, that the just-passed Parents’ Bill of Rights allowed an order letting parents defy mask mandates, even though the law never mentions face coverings. Indeed, Brown predicted a judge would note the very language of the Parents’ Bill of Rights includes mention of public health concerns overriding decisions on individual health.

“There’s basically an opt out of the Parents’ Bill of Rights if there is a compelling state interest,” Brown said. At a time when the schools are seeing roughly 200 COVID-19 infections a day and more students have tested positive in the 2021-’22 School Year (yes, the one that started this month) than in the entire 2020-’21 School Year, there’s a case to made to mitigate spread.

But anti-mask advocates attacked Brown in particular for the 3-2 mandate vote, even though she isn't seeking reelection. One group put faux wanted posters online that said she was abusing kids. Intense rhetoric is nothing new in the political world, but Brown feels the attacks turned too personal, and the ruling also paints them as wrong-headed. “I don’t expect an apology,” she said, “but I do expect harassing emails and social media posts like that to be taken down.”

Opponents of mask policy still hope to prevail in court on appeal. School Board member Bridget Ziegler, who voted against the mandate, found the ruling misguided. “It’s pretty wild to see a ruling on a law that is literally titled The Parents’ Bill of Rights attempt to provide additional protections for the government over parents,” Ziegler said. She said this underscores how important it is for parents to be engaged in the lawmaking process and to vote for parent advocates to serve on the School Board.

Of course, prents should be involved. Politicians, though, should note something else afoot. Forbidding mask mandates isn't just legally shaky, it’s also terrible politics. Three statewide Florida polls came out this month showing strong support for requiring masks in school (St. Pete Polls 62% support, Quinnipiac University 60%, The Listener Group 75%).

And if you don’t believe that, look at a classroom. One of the most surprising images I’ve seen in the delta surge was taken of students at the start of school, before Sarasota’s mandate was in place, showing up  masked of their own volition. School board chambers across Florida may brim with anti-mandate activists calling officials Nazis, but there’s also public opinion that can be measured looking at children’s faces. While the mandated masks take effect Monday, Sarasota school leaders report most children have already covered up. Most parents just want their children to be safe. 

It's worth remembering, when opponents accuse School Board members of child abuse for masking kids, they are also accusing most parents in the county of the same offense.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.

  

Photo courtesy Sarasota County Schools.

[On Politics]  The Most Un-American President
Rep. Greg Steube

On September 11, 2001, the course of my life changed. I was sitting in a break room at the University of Florida’s law school when I watched the horror unfold. That day, I felt the call to serve our country. I went on to enlist in the U.S. Army and eventually deployed to Iraq.

I’m not the only one with a story like this. Many patriots, after that day, selflessly answered the call to serve and defend our nation against the cowardly terrorists. I can only imagine how they feel after seeing the Taliban back in power and the chaotic scenes taking place in Kabul.

We are 10 days into our rescue mission, and we still have thousands of Americans stranded in Afghanistan desperate to get back home while President Biden is focused on addressing the media to discuss masks and vaccinations.

Biden’s legacy will be known as the Taliban hoisting their flag while wearing American uniforms and using our equipment and weapons. Making a complete mockery out of our dedicated Marines.

It is every elected official’s duty to ensure American safety, and if our President doesn’t step up to the plate, then I will.

This is not a Republican or Democrat issue; this is about Americans. That’s why I’m teaming up with a California Democrat to demand Congress and the White House get every single American out of Afghanistan by any means necessary because it is my duty.

With the Taliban back in power, a humanitarian crisis at the airport, and the Taliban in possession of military equipment - President Biden is brushing off the failures hoping the public will just “lose interest.”

Let me be clear – getting every American back on our soil is and will be the top priority until they are safely back home. No one will be losing any interest. Once we get them home, we must focus on getting our military equipment far-far away from the Taliban’s grasp.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, represents House District 17 in Congress. 

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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