Fair: 'We have upper echelon candidates'
That persistent grumbling we've been hearing for a few weeks now is from Florida ed watchers who say, behind the scenes, that the pool of applicants to be Florida's next education commission is too small, too thin, too light-weight. But don't count the chair of the Board of Education among the naysayers.
T. Willard Fair tells The Gradebook he is satisfied with the work done by Proact, the headhunting firm, and that Florida's next commish is very likely to emerge from the pool of 26 candidates that filed by last week's deadline. "We have upper-echelon candidates," Fair said. But do we have enough of them? "Who can define what is enough?" he said. "But certainly, if you look at the package that we have … there are people who would meet my expectations."
Fair said he was pleasantly surprised to see several former state education commissioners in the mix (that would be Florida K-12 Chancellor Cheri Yecke, who once ran the education systems in Virginia and Minnesota; William Moloney, who headed Colorado's system; and Tom Watkins Jr., the former top dog in Michigan.) He also said the quantity and quality of applicants must be considered in light of other ed czar openings in other states.
"We're not the only game in town," he said. Kentucky, for one also is seeking an education commissioner.
The State Board is scheduled to receive a list of recommended semifinalists at its August 14 meeting.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter