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COLUMN

Happytown: Rick Scott's listening tour, Digital Domain goes bankrupt

Gov. Rick Scott visits Fern Creek Elementary and Digital Domain sinks like the Titanic

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Gov. Scott talks with seniors at Ft. Walton Beach High School on his education listening tour


In what can best be described as a spectacularly soundproofed case of a bald tree falling in the educational woods, Governor Rick "Dick" Scott slithered his way to within a half-mile of Happytown™ HQ last Thursday to hiss into the ether, and we were there! By now, you've probably exhausted your eyes, rolling them at the notion of Scott's so-called "listening tour" that took the state by surprise last week – you know, the photo-op posturing parade that was meant to make it look like Scott actually gave a damn about public education, with no sound and no fury signifying everything. But your thoughts on the matter were not requested. Why? You're not smarter than a fifth grader.

Anyway, Scott made a stop at B-rated, generally impoverished Fern Creek Elementary School. We arrived after the governor heard the complaints of exhaustion from teachers, just in time to watch the throng of television reporters hurl an array of topical questions at the slippery gubernatorial wall. Wouldn't the passage of "smart cap" Amendment 3 limiting government surpluses potentially hurt already dwindling teacher salaries? That's for the voters to decide, etc., he says. Then, the ever-ready "last question" call of his media handler was handed to our boyfriend Scott Maxwell from the Sentinel. "How does no more 'teaching to the test' manifest itself in your idea?" Maxwell asked in reference to the FCAT stranglehold currently maligning teachers, students and parents alike. The answer: something like, duh, we're taking too many tests. OK.

The rest of the event consisted of Scott and his wife sitting on a couch in the media center and reading a children's tome titled How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids (very!) while sitting beneath a banner that touted the governor's $1 billion contribution to education that basically didn't make up for the previous year's $1.3 billion in education cuts. Math is hard!

Scott greeted each tousled-haired member of the gathered assortment of first-through-third-graders from a squatting position, offering such lively chatter as "Are you ticklish? I bet you are!" and "Do you get nervous? My leg shakes. I'm ready to go all the time!" before cracking open the slight hardcover that's meant to teach the youth about kindness and generosity. Irony was not invited. In between the turning of pages, the governor engaged the kids in various back-and-forths about sibling rivalry and being the new kid, sounding way more comfortable at the Weekly Reader end of the communication spectrum than the executive level he currently occupies. At the end, Mr. and Mrs. Scott invited all of the kids to come for a tour of the "mansion" with the "mansion dog" the next time they're visiting Tallahassee.

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