Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rick Scott to Visit the Sarasota Military Academy

A Warm Welcome to Governor Rick Scott

Good Moring and welcome to Sarasota County!  Your itinerary includes a visit to our local charter-dynamo Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) - your office has chosen your visit well; indeed this ten year old charter school has drawn so many accolades over the years from academics and politicians alike that the local newspapers are now ordering their ink by tanker truck.  Here is an honest review of the facts about SMA:

1. The Sarasota Military Academy FCAT scores as of 2011 were the best in the  
    county, second only to the admission-based Pine View School.
2. SMA sent 94% of its 2011’s graduates onto four year colleges.
3. Student cadets assume important leadership responsibilities as a regular part of 
    their education – a situation unheard of at most schools.
4. As of School Year 2011 85% of the cadets are at or above grade level in math, 
   87% of students are meeting state standards in writing.
5. This all adds up to the most prestigious award – the Florida Department of 
    Education cumulative School Grade for the Sarasota Military Academy, an A for SY 

SMA provides leadership opportunities to both boys and girls without the oppressive odor of political correctness – rather, both sexes are treated fairly with dignity and respect. 

The impetus for SMA’s success is its founder Daniel Kennedy – a man who had a vision of an academically rigorous preparatory school in a military setting where the focus would be on making the cadet the best person and citizen he or she could be.  This vision became a reality in 2002.

Colonel Kennedy is a perfect mixture of General George S. Patton, Jr., full of high expectations, intolerant of mediocrity, with Charles Edward Chipping, the cool-headed and big-hearted headmaster in James Hilton’s masterpiece, Goodbye Mr. Chips.

On the school’s website he writes to the cadets: “If you have questions, email me or stop by.  My door is always open and I will look forward to speaking with you.  Onward!  Dan Kennedy, Headmaster/CEO.  If his students only knew that he runs 8 miles every morning and is in his office by 6 a.m.  In short governor, Dan Kennedy can give you a run for your money when it comes to work ethic.

As the Herald-Tribune reported 9 years ago in 2003:
As the first year of the Sarasota Military Academy ends this week, people across Florida are now asking Kennedy, the high school's first headmaster, how they can duplicate the program in their counties.
"I expect to see these in a lot of communities," Kennedy said. "I think it's the best educational bargain on the planet."  This is still true today.

Comparisons can be made between SMA and numerous private schools like the storied Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts with its impressive selection of AP courses but according to Colonel Kennedy, “SMA has added the prestigious Advance Placement International Diploma Program (APID).  In order to qualify for this advanced diploma, cadets must take a minimum of 5 AP classes.”  With discipline problems at a minimum and academic opportunities at a maximum, the Florida Taxpayer is left with a true bargain.  After all, the Andover day–student must pay $32,200 per year.   

Please enjoy your visit to Sarasota County and to her Flag-Ship Charter School.  It should be a welcomed breath of fresh air to see these high school cadets excited about learning and happy to be at a great school.  The fact that you’ve made education and charter schools a top priority of your 2012-2013 state budget by increasing the state’s investment by more than $1 Billion is a testament to your commitment to the future of Florida.  The Sarasota Military Academy is certainly one school that can put that investment to good use.  Enjoy the sunshine, the pristine air of our county and the smiling faces of our cadets.

Word Count: 638

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a certified history teacher working in southwest Florida as a guest teacher.  He holds a BA in History from the University of Connecticut and a MA in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.  In addition to teaching he is a former elected official and speechwriter.  Mr. Fisher now writes the political blog: THE THINKING CAP at  



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