The size and complexity of the Palm Beach County School District presents a myriad of challenges. Student achievement, school security and teacher pay being just a few of the issues being wrestled with by the School Board on a daily basis.
Board member Debra L. Robinson has effectively fought on the front lines of this county’s education battles for 17 years. In that time, she has garnered a reputation for never missing an opportunity to speak up — even when she’s the lone voice — when it comes to students of color and those that are underprivileged.
Her time on the board has also made her one of the more respected voices from the dais no matter what the topic, be it teacher pay or high school graduation rates or charter school accountability.
Robinson is being challenged for the school board seat by Riviera Beach attorney Edwin Ferguson, a native who taught in Palm Beach County schools for two years before leaving for law school. But his lack involvement in schools since then raises concerns about his depth of knowledge and understanding of issues facing the district.
That’s why the Post endorses Robinson, 61, to retain her District 7 seat for a fifth term in the Aug. 28 race. The district that stretches from Lake Park to Delray Beach in the eastern half of Palm Beach County — encompassing some of the poorest, most challenging communities when it comes to raising and maintaining student achievement levels.
“We don’t want to go backwards,” Robinson told the Post Editorial Board. “The district has a strong trio of top leadership and a good strategic plan that incorporates the issue of equity, which we’ve been talking about for a while.”
Robinson said it’s difficult for the 195,000-student school district, though highly rated in some areas of student achievement, to consider itself successful when graduation rates for black male students, though much improved from when she started, continue to lag other student groups.
“A high school diploma doesn’t mean what we once hoped,” she said. “This high-stakes testing environment has caused us to lose too many years of teaching critical and analytical thinking.”
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But Robinson says she will have even more time to focus on the school board after retiring from her medical practice, and hopes to fill “voids” by developing and utilizing community partners such as Palm Beach State College, and local businesses and churches.
More work is needed, and we believe Robinson is the best candidate to get it done.
Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.