Elect that commissioner
Add Gov. Charlie Crist to the list of those supporting a return to an elected education commissioner. A bill that would put that idea before Florida voters unanimously cleared the Senate education committee last week. And Crist – who was Florida's last elected education commissioner – told The Gradebook Wednesday that he'll sign it if it makes it to his desk. "Yes I would," he said after a Black History Month event at the Science Center in St. Petersburg. "Why not? I love democracy."
After decades of electing education commissioners, Florida went to an appointed commissioner in 2003, thanks to a 1998 constitutional amendment that revamped the state Cabinet and tried to insulate education policy from shifting political winds. But the position quickly become a lightning rod under Education Commissioner John Winn, who was hand-picked by former Gov. Jeb Bush and became the public face for Bush's vision of school reform. Just by coincidence, Winn resigns today.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter