Log in

Apopka resident writes open letter to Gov. DeSantis

Rod Olsen urges changes to schools and how history is taught


Rod Olsen is a former HOA President of Rock Springs Ridge and an Apopka resident who often contributes his opinions at the Apopka City Council meetings during the public comments section and in frequent op/eds to The Apopka Voice. He wrote this open letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to make changes in state schools and policies in teaching history that concern him.

Rod Olsen
Rod Olsen

Dear Governor DeSantis, 

I am writing to you as a private citizen who moved to Florida 10 years ago and has been immersed in local education, support to law enforcement, and community activities since my arrival. I have watched my four grandchildren progress through the public school system here, helped coach, guide and mentor young athletes, and have dedicated my time to enhancing our community and helping others.

While the State and our local community near Orlando have many redeeming qualities, I would like to share with you some concerns that have reached a boiling point among many citizens and friends in our area and have sparked increasingly heated debates about the future of our community and state.   

School Vouchers

Students and Parents should have a choice.  I am NOT in favor of how the current school voucher system operates.  Allowing our tax dollars to go to schools that are not required to meet the minimum standards and requirements that our public schools are held to is IRRESPONSIBLE!  We must review how the current method of reimbursement is handled to ensure fair and equitable treatment for BOTH Public and schools of choice.

Portable Classrooms

In the past few years, depending upon where within the District, between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 of our Orange County Public School District students are housed in one of the 890 portable classrooms throughout the county.  To underscore the magnitude of the issue, the number of portables in Orange County almost matches the combined total of the three largest school districts TOGETHER (Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough School Districts) in the entire state.  This is simply unacceptable for our students.  Studies show that portable classrooms do not provide the safety, security, and teaching environment—not to mention they cost more to maintain—than our brick-and-mortar schools do.  And there seems to be no plan for allaying these concerns moving forward.

As an example, shortly after the Apopka Wolf Lake Elementary and Middle schools’ opened in 2006, this campus “enjoyed” 46 portable classrooms.  Even after the 2022 opening of the Kelly Park K-8 school, these 46 portable classrooms remain on campus. In addition, the Kelly Park school campus has saved space for 12 MORE portable classrooms!  

Orange County, as the fastest growing county in Florida, warrants an exception to the current can't build a school until the school can be filled policy.  Our schools should be built with future growth in mind just as hospitals and other businesses do.  Our Children should not have to suffer the consequences of overcrowding, no bathrooms in many of the portables and poor planning. 

In considering how to best utilize aged-out school buildings or no longer needed portable classrooms consider the win-win solution that Iron River Michigan found.  They converted their former Iron River High School into affordable senior housing. 

History Curriculum

The history of our State and Country school curriculum contents should be reviewed for accuracy and provide guidance for presentation by our Teachers.  Our State and Country’s history SHOULD NOT be sanitized.  As good as our State and Country has been for many Citizens, the fact is that we have some significant blemishes.  The treatment of our Native American, Black, Asian, Latin American, Challenged and Poor citizens historically has failed in many ways.  By exposing these historic missteps, it could serve as a reminder of how poorly we have handled basic human rights in the past and will serve to hopefully avert any future transgressions. 

“History is not there for you to like or dislike, it is there for you to learn from it and if it offends you even better because you are less likely to repeat it. It's not yours to erase; it belongs to all of us.”  Malcolm X 

I look forward to discussing with you the opportunities to improve our schools and curriculum.

Thank you for your consideration.

Warm Regards,

Rod Olsen

Opinion, OP/ED, Florida, Florida Schools, History, Gov. Ron DeSantis


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here