At Saturday’s Republican rally in Hialeah, where several Florida politicians attended to talk about the November election, the Shark Tank caught up with Manny Diaz Jr., who’s also running a reelection campaign against Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich. Javier Manjarres, the editor in chief of the Shark Tank, asked the representative some questions concerning an update on what he’s been up to and his thoughts on Education reform.
Are you sponsoring any bills or co-sponsoring any bills at the moment?
“My background is education and, I think, as far as Florida has gone with school choice and those kinds of things, I think we have a long way to go. Because, if you look at where we are, the third largest state in the union, right now there’s a lawsuit trying to ban low income kids from getting tax credit scholarships. You’re talking about 100,000 low income kids in a state of 20 million people. I think that’s preposterous. I think we have to continue to expand those programs and allow parents to have choices to whatever school works for each individual kid.”
What’s your take on the standard, which used to be common core, and is now Florida standard?
“I have mixed views on it. As an educator, I want to have higher standards. I agree with that. I think we have to produce better kids when they come out of high school. If you look back to the 1990’s, we were producing graduates that were reading at an 8th grade level and that’s a problem. But, I think you have to walk a fine line between raising the standards and getting to a point where you’re trying to teach stuff that’s maybe not used. That’s where I think that we have to go through it with a fine tooth comb. A lot of parents have brought to me the issue of Algebra 2 and things of that nature, and I do believe in higher standards but I kinda agree with them. We have to look at common sense things that prepare our kids for the new work force.”
What are your ideas on data mining?
“That’s always a concern. I’m a privacy guy. I always have a concern when it comes to that. My big thing is having higher standards and, really, local control. A lot of those decisions are made locally. If a school board finds a book that has something they don’t want in it, they have every right to remove it. A standard doesn’t require a specific book. And, when it comes to data mining, we have to be careful to stick to the things that are pertinent to the performance and not data mining that can be used for other things because that’s an intrusion of privacy.”