Bring on Elia?
Get your scorecards out. It's time to start handicapping candidates for the state's schools chief, with Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia saying she's been urged to think hard about applying.
Elia has been Hillsborough's superintendent for two years, the capstone of a 21-year career in a district that likes to breed insiders for its top job. She doesn't have a Ph.D. -- much less a doctoral degree from Harvard, like William Moloney, the former Colorado education commissioner eyeing Florida's opening. Not that it has to hurt her. Remember Jim Horne? John Winn? Since Florida has moved to an appointed commissioner, pedigree seems matters less than knowing the idiosyncrasies of the Sunshine State.
There are bigger names in the mix, but some come with baggage. Cheri Yecke, the K-12 chancellor, is mired in controversy over her past preachings on intelligent design. Her predecessor, Jim Warford, another prospect, has sparred with bigwigs in the department under Gov. Jeb Bush's administration. Elia, by comparison, has a low profile. She supports accountability. Her district has embraced controversial initiatives like performance pay for teachers. It tends not to buck state leaders.
Stay tuned to see whether she applies, and who else enters the mix. With one week left until applications are due, it's time to see the dark horse candidates emerge.
(Times photo, Mike Pease)