Florida GOP should pull ad with teachers' comment

Tampa Tribune EditorialJuly 28, 2013 

Most of us were taught to be polite when we're invited into someone's home. So it's no surprise that finalists in the annual Teacher of the Year competition said nice things about Gov. Rick Scott at a recent gathering in the governor's mansion in Tallahassee.

They didn't know those interviews would be hijacked by the Republican Party and used in an advertisement for the governor's re-election campaign.

At least one of the those teachers isn't happy about it. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to be in any political ad, Democrat or Republican," middle school teacher Apryl Shackelford told the Tampa Tribune's William March.

Despite those public comments, the state's GOP continues to stand behind the ad, saying the videos taken during the gathering are public records available for anyone's use.

Scott's record on education is evolving. After cutting education funding his first year in office, he restored some of that funding the next year and successfully pushed lawmakers to include funding for teacher raises this year.

That's what inspired the positive comments from Shackelford.

But she would rather those comments not become politicized.

She drew support last week from state Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a Democrat from Maitland who is a schoolteacher.

Castor Dentel wrote to Scott objecting to the use of the teacher interviews in a political ad, noting they were conducted by public employees and occurred during a public event paid for by tax dollars. Sure, the lawmaker may have some political motives herself here, but she is correct that the teacher interviews were misused.

Scott may not have had anything to do with the creation or distribution of the ad, but he should push the state GOP to quit running the ad. At the least, Shackelford's image and comment should be removed.

After all, most of us were also taught to treat our guests with respect.

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