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Another Kind of Research: Close-Up on One Member of the Educators for Bush Team

Susan Notes: I fear this says something about award winners. Not all award winners but some. I say this as a finalist in the New York Teacher of the year show. Once nominated, a teacher must exert a tremendous amount of self-promotion to complete the forms. And this isn't to mention what goes on after that.

A few days ago I posted a press release listing Educators for Bush. One person on the list is Grace Williams, who is described in this press release:

Grace Williams is a Bush-Cheney '04 Florida Educators for Bush steering committee co-chair. She is a classroom teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, teaching fifth grade math, social, studies and science. She was the Florida Teacher of the Year in 1998 and serves as chairman of the Education Practices Commission.


I decided to look up the bio of the Florida teacher in this group. Here it is.

In 2003 Grace Williams was named vice chairman of the Florida Department of Education's Education Practices Commission. According to the Florida Department of Education Web site, the Commission "acts as the final agency in disciplinary actions against holders of Florida Educators' Certificates."

In 2002, Grace appeared in TV ads for Governor Jeb Bush:

"Not only does he value education, but he values the educator as well. He wants teachers to make more money, children to have better test scores, schools to be higher quality." Bush_TV_ads_focus_on_.shtml"> http://www.sptimes.com/2002/04/24/State/Bush_TV_ads_focus_on_.shtml">

In August 1998, when Bush and his running mate, Education Commissioner Frank Brogan, revealed the plan to grade schools on an A-F scale based largely on the annual student test results, many educators expressed concern. But not Grace:

"There's nothing about it that makes me anxious. There's nothing about it that makes me as a teacher frightened. It only excites me."

Grace was not alone. Governor Bush and Lt. Governor Brogan received the endorsement of all five of Florida's most recent statewide Teachers of the Year. The teachers cited Governor Bush's commitment to improving Florida's schools through higher standards, greater accountability and more resources as one of the reasons they are supporting the Bush-Brogan team.


1998 Grace received a Milken Family Educator Award.

Criteria for Selection
Based on guidelines established by the Foundation, participating states' departments of education appoint blue ribbon committees that identify candidates for evaluation and selection. Identification and selection procedures are confidential, and the program does not include a nomination or application procedure.


In December 1998, Grace spoke to Florida TaxWatch:

"As a classroom teacher, the number one philosophy I try to impart to my students is that "Knowledge is Power." For those students who know that the FCAT is coming, there is much power. They can prepare for this test and their scores will reflect their efforts."


Biographical Information:
Grace Williams, a curriculum resource teacher at Jacksonville's Carter G. Woodson Electronic Technology for Elementary Education Magnet School, believes that technology skills combined with strong academics can help diminish racism and narrow the opportunity gap that so many minorities encounter. When she trains other teachers to become technologically adept, Mrs. Williams gives them skills to better reach young people and help prepare them for the future. During her years as a fourth-grade teacher, she developed technology-integrated curricula, established classroom learning centers, started after-school computer tutoring programs for students and their families, and held technology in-service training. Mrs. Williams has received numerous distinctions for her exemplary work in education, including the 1998 Florida Teacher of the Year award


Here's a picture of Grace Williams holding hands with President Clinton in the Oval Office (as part of the Teacher of the Year program):


— Susan Ohanian


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