Jeb Bush, Sharpton slated for MSNBC town hall in Tampa
TAMPA - MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, featuring former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough, plans to originate live Thursday from Tampa. An MSNBC spokeswoman says details have not been worked out, but the show will originate from a Tampa elementary school. It will not be open to the public, NBC Universal publicist Lauren Skowronski said. Scheduled to be on the program are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Grammy-winning musician John Legend and the Rev. Al Sharpton.According to an e-mail to teachers from the Hillsborough County School Board, the political chat fest will take place in the cafeteria at Alexander Elementary School, 5602 N. Lois Ave., Reportedly, the show will center on the state of public education and will include a town hall meeting of citizens, teachers and a panel of guest experts. The event will begin at 5:30 a.m. and continue through 9 a.m. "Morning Joe" usually airs from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays. Hillsborough County might have been picked because the school district was awarded a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a seven-year teacher improvement program. Florida also might have been picked because the Legislature is proposing controversial sweeping changes in the education system that would give the state more control over local schools, end tenure for teachers, extend the number of years of service to be eligible for retirement, make it easier to fire teachers and tie student grades to pay. The reforms appear to be an attempt to get some of President Barack Obama's $4 billion education stimulus money. Florida is one of 16 finalists in Obama's Race to the Top, which requires states to take steps to improve teacher quality, raise academic standards and make charter schools more accessible. Scarborough represented the 1st District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 as a Republican.
Reporter Walt Belcher can be reached at (813) 259-7654.