Four Florida school teachers apply for state education commissioner job
In Florida's search for a new education commissioner, Iowa-based Ray and Associates sought to provide the Florida Board of Education with "the best possible candidates from a very select pool of elite potential candidates."
The applicants who met the May 25 deadline included four Florida school teachers, six former district-level administrators, two superintendents from tiny Michigan school districts, two academics, two Florida school principals, a longtime Sunshine State politician, a Chicago schools administrator and a Florida Department of Education administrator.
Ray and Associates recommended extending the deadline -- a move the board quickly accepted.
Could one of these applicants rise from obscurity to the top post in Florida's education system? Maybe so. Let's take a look at the documents they submitted to see what we can glean, starting with the teachers.
Edward Hashey is a former St. Petersburg Times consultant who left the newspaper industry to become a teacher. He has taught in Manatee and Sarasota public schools since 2006. He said he decided to apply for the job after "a recent newspaper article implied that no one was interested in this job and that anyone who did apply would be considered insane. This bothered me deeply ... " Hashey wrote that he sees the position as akin to "a double-sided, 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle where the pet beagle devoured four of the pieces." "I am confident you will not find a more diverse candidate for the position who will think out of the box," he wrote.
Jeffrey Lipp has been a Broward County math teacher since 2003. He also has been a high school baseball coach. He wrote in his application letter that he is "outraged" that public education has become a bureaucratic system with little incentive for productivity. "The United States of America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, due in large part to our Founding Fathers' belief in liberty and freedom. Unfortunately, our public education system has been hijacked by statists attempting to strip the rights of the individual in favor of collective salvation, or worse, social justice," he wrote. "I am applying for the position of Education Commissioner because I know that I can help restore the rights of parents, students and teachers. Former Governor Bush and Governor Scott have begun this process, but much work has to be done."
Brian Lomio has been a special education teacher in Hernando, and then Pasco, county since 1999. He stated that he wants to be commissioner "because I want to continue making a difference in the lives of Florida's children, parents and educators." He wrote that he has strong interpersonal skills, a working knowledge of the state's many testing systems and administrative experience, all of which would make him an "outstanding candidate" for commissioner.
Scott Whittle taught in Georgia three years before moving to Leon County in 2001. He is a technology instructor at Lincoln High School. He stated that he has strong relationships with leaders in his district and at the state level, which would help him be successful. He urged the board to look past his resume. "I would like to express my interest in having the opportunity to speak with you in detail regarding my unique skills sets as a position of this magnitude and gravity is not and should not be judged by the limited information able to be presented within this short document," he wrote. "This is particularly important in light of the latest battery of legislation that I have spent countless hours testify before Senate and House committee and educational experts and advisors and attorneys working to inform and mold the struture of effective legislation for Florida's educational system."