Campaign website: www.vote4ruth2022.com
Date and place of birth: Greenwood, MS
The Legislature in 2022 passed a law (HB 1467) that allows parents to object to books they consider “inappropriate.” Do you support or oppose this law and why?
I oppose (HB 1467). This law will layer on to already cumbersome obligations educators have trying to manage the current curriculum, not to mention educating students. I cannot imagine the disruption this law will cause for educators, and we wonder why they are leaving the profession in droves. This law reeks of discrimination and racism at its best. This law may make a few people feel more comfortable, but I would want my child to know and learn how to manage uncomfortable situations rather than pretend they do not exist. This law is going to be disastrous. What we need is more empathy and mental health counseling, not more governing. From my perspective, it does not matter how many laws we put on the books, morality cannot be legislated.
The Legislature passed HB 1557, which bans classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 and in higher grades unless it is “age-appropriate.” Critics have called it the “don’t say gay” law. Do you support or oppose it and why?
I vehemently oppose HB 1557. From my perspective, knowledge is power, and this bill borders on destroying the existence of a free and open society. The unfortunate realization for K-12 teachers and Florida University faculty is they will have to abide by this and other laws governing education. If we know anything about biology, there is a difference between sex and gender. Sex is assigned at birth and gender is how a person identifies. Having raised and protected a gay granddaughter and two gay nephews I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. I have witnessed the pain it has caused for a young child to be rejected, and at the time it was unbearable so I can just imagine how they must have felt. As a Christian, the God I serve and the Heaven I imagine have room and tolerance for everyone.
Define what you consider “age-appropriate” for classroom discussion of sexual orientation.
My ideal definition of age-appropriate for classroom discussion of sexual orientation is five to eight years old. Unfortunately, having been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I began to speak to my children about their bodies as soon as they began to ask questions, and because I had gay children living in my home, I sought professional counseling for the entire family. We dealt with whatever subject arose at the time. The best advice I received was to only answer the questions my children asked because sometimes we over-explain, which can cause confusion. Follow their lead, children will let you know.
Do you believe that Florida schools try to indoctrinate students, and why?
No, I do not. The truth does not need indoctrination. Frankly, Florida’s legislature over-regulates so much that educators do not have time to indoctrinate because they are too busy jumping through hoops to educate. It appears to me that too much time is spent trying to find problems for existing solutions.
The school district will ask voters to extend and/or increase an existing property tax that is allowed by state law subject to vote approval. Do you support or oppose this tax increase, and why?
At first glance, I was 100% on board, but for the past twenty-two years, there have always been issues of mismanagement of funds, unnecessary waste, and corruption, in conjunction with inflation, the rising cost of gas, and unaffordability of housing, I would like the opportunity to delve into the budget from a Lean Six Sigma approach assist in eliminating waste and streamline spending. As a taxpayer and board member, it is time we know exactly where our tax dollars are going and be held accountable for it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What do you think of changes made in school safety since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? What still needs to change?
BCPSD has made many excellent changes since the MSD tragedy, they have made four priority safety and security investments, and key policy actions. They placed school resource personnel at each school throughout the county. We just need to stay on the track of continuous safety improvements.
How would you assess the performance of Superintendent Vickie Cartwright?
After spending years in corporate, you must give the new Superintendent time to do her job. I do not have enough data to do a fair assessment. The Board does not have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the District, it needs to be good fiduciary stewards of our tax dollars, provide appropriate oversight, and set direction/policy. We should let her run the business and we should make sure that it is done properly. I feel she should be afforded the same opportunity as every other Superintendent to do her job.
Grand juries for decades have accused the district and School Board members of corruption or incompetence. How do you change that culture?
Transparency, open communication, and accountability! The Broward School Board is the governance body of the Broward County Public Schools District, and my experience as a board governance trainer gives me a keen understanding of the fiduciary duties coupled with a wealth of knowledge, integrity, honesty, and fairness. I will not lose sight of the fact that I am there as an agent for the students, parents, and the community. I passionately believe that we need to get back to community education, where all stakeholders feel their best interest is top of mind, and their tax dollars are being used wisely.
How would you assess the district’s implementation of the $800 million bond issue that voters approved in 2014?
Based on what I have been able to surmise from my limited available research NO. I do not believe I will have an appropriate answer until I can see accountabilities for all monies spent to date. The Broward Public School District appears to be a poster child for a Lean Six Sigma approach to managing people in charge of our tax dollars.
Do you support or oppose the School Board’s decision to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order on mask mandates in schools, and why?
I support the School Board’s decision. Having lost six members of my family to COVID-19, and having a mild case of it myself, I still wear my mask. It was a pandemic, and millions lost their lives.
The Governor advocates an agenda for school board candidates that emphasizes “parental rights” and “combatting the woke agenda from infiltrating public schools,” as quoted on his website. Do you support or oppose this initiative and why?
I frankly think it is too late for that. Here again, another attempt to over-legislate and overregulate. I strongly oppose it, as an African American female, I have been “woke” all my life. I am amazed at how this Governor and his legislature are trying to take us backward. Growing up in Mississippi, I have seen and endured enough oppressive policies. As my grandfather would say, “You can’t unscramble eggs.” As a parent, I know my rights and just want to be able to live in a fair and equitable society with justice for all.
Should Florida’s commissioner of education be elected or appointed, and why?
With all the shenanigans that have taken place recently, I feel it should be an elected position where the Commissioner is accountable to the people and not to the Governor. In past research, there are thirteen states that have elected education officials.
List in reverse chronological order each college or university attended with years of attendance.
National Louis University – 2 Years
St. Thomas University – 1 Year
Almeda University – 2 Years
Sierra Sawyer College of Business – 2 Years
Maryville University – 1 Year
Mississippi Valley State University – 2 ½ Years
List in reverse chronological order your work history for the past 15 years.
President & CEO,
R&R Business & Political Consulting, Inc.
Director of Grassroots Advocacy,
Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
Director of Communications & Public Relations/Principal Assistant
The Charter Schools of Excellence
CMA Enterprise Incorporated
Director, Diversity/Emerging Markets
National & Alamo Car Rental Agencies
Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit, including bankruptcy or foreclosure? If so, provide details of the case and disposition.
Have you ever been charged or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including an adjudication of guilt withheld? If so, provide charges, dates, and terms of the award.
Why should voters elect you instead of your opponent(s)?
I am running for Broward County School Board- District #5 because I believe in the power of education to transform lives. Having spent the past twenty-two years living, working, and fighting for the betterment of our children and our community, I am confident that Broward County Public Schools can provide a great education for all students.
As a board governance trainer, I bring a wealth of knowledge, integrity, honesty, and fairness coupled with a strong reputation for problem-solving and consensus-building. Throughout my career, I have served on many areas non-profit organization boards and possess a keen understanding of the responsibilities and fiduciary duties of a board member.
With me as your District #5 School Board Member, you can expect me to follow the rule of law, provide transparency, and always be inclusive. My commitment to you and our community is to provide you with the best representation as you exercise your parental and student rights to a high-quality and equitable education in Broward County Public Schools.
If you want the truth, vote for Ruth!
What in your life experience best qualifies you to serve as a school board member?
My experience and skill set make me an ideal board member, coupled with seasoned empathy and the ability to hit the ground running. I understand the task at hand and the expectations of the parents and community stakeholders to position our children to achieve an education that positions them to compete globally.