PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) – At Pine Forest High School, Congressman Matt Gaetz had the welcome mat rolled out for him, but it wasn’t an easy visit.
Rep. Gaetz (R-FL) toured the academies at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, but the visit was much more than a photo op.
“The great programs we have going on, where students are developing skills that will help them get into the work force, because we have got the great educational work force and we’ve got the dedicated educational professionals, who have turned this school around,” says Rep. Gaetz
Gaetz sat down to speak with students, teachers and administrators to hear what they want from Congress. There was plenty to be said about teacher pay, retention, and especially the Department of Education, an agency Gaetz is a vocal critic of.
“The federal Department of Education, no help! I’ve joined with a small group of other colleagues to sponsor legislation to abolish the board of education,” says Gaetz.
Gaetz is among eight GOP legislators who support ending the department by the end of 2018, which would hand state and local government the responsibility for education policy.
A concerned parent, Urshala Rivers, says before meeting with Gaetz, she was worried about her child’s education.
“I have been really concerned I have had some experiences with other teachers, he said what I was looking to hear, that they are trying to make improvements,” says Rivers.
However, Gaetz says with talk looming over the education budget being slashed under the Trump administration, he says it’s time to trim the fat and spend education dollars somewhere else.
“Use the billion of dollars that are wasted to support some of the great student-driven programs that we see here at Pine Forest High School,” says Gaetz.
Gaetz is just three months in on the job, but he says he’s already deep in his first assignment: listening to what his constituents want for education.