In her campaign speeches, Mary Cantrell never fails to mention all the Skills USA awards that her students have compiled. In researching this I came across an article by Fox News 13 that exposes the truth behind these "awards."
First, let's look at cost: Manatee Technical Institute spent more than any other school in the county -- $213,000. A portion was federal grants and fundraising, but $119,000 came out of MTI's internal operating fund. This is money denied other programs. And all students are required to donate $30 per semester to support the few students that actually participate.
Next let's look at participation: MTI sent 150 students and 46 advisors to the competition. Pinellas County sent 23 and 12, Hillsborough County sent four and one, Polk County sent 23 and 12. Perhaps the other schools decided that the funds could be spent to benefit a larger section of students.
Finally, let's look at the awards: Fox News found that in 29 categories, there was no other competition, MTI was the only school that entered.
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An individual who wins a competition where there are no other competitors cannot feel proud of that empty accomplishment. It's like being in a marathon race with no one else entered. The runner can walk from beginning to end -- just have to cross the finish line to win.
Mary Cantrell brags about empty awards but it makes you wonder if she will be the proper steward of the school district's money.