The rest of the pack for Florida education commissioner
Well, today's the deadline — the extended deadline, we should say — to apply to become Florida education commissioner. The State Board of Education stretched the dates after a cursory review of the 19 candidates received didn't blow them away. (One has since withdrawn.)
Through Friday afternoon, the DOE informed the Gradebook that not one single added applicant had come forward. Still, they assured us that the serious candidates would emerge at the last minute, not wanting to tip their hands early because of the state's open records laws. Just like last time?
There's been some speculation on who Gov. Rick Scott is pushing for. He couldn't persuade Michelle Rhee, so now is it Indiana's Tony Bennett? Rhode Island's Deborah Gist? Wait and see. We're pushing to get the application files as quickly as they arrive. In the meantime, let's look at the three remaining existing applicants we haven't looked at yet.
Tom Gallagher. You remember him. Served as Florida's education commissioner from 1999-2001, until he decided to drop that gig for a successful run as the state's insurance commissioner. Ran for governor. Out of the public sector for a while, now, he's decided to seek a way back in. His five goals include expanding school choice, improving the state's assessment system and helping districts implement new teacher evaluation methods. "I was 'on board' when this remarkable journey began," he writes, "and I am excited about joining the team that will take the state to the next level of transformative improvement."
Loretta Costin is the insider candidate, Florida's current chancellor of career and technical education. Before joining the DOE, she worked as a planner for Gulf County, and prior to that, she ran several family businesses. "My goal as commissioner of education would be very straightforward: I want students to succeed," she writes. "Over the past decade, I helped lead, manage and implement the education reforms that have gained Florida national recognition. ... I know where we started, I know where we currently reside and I know clearly where we need to go to realize the full potential of the education reforms championed by Gov. Rick Scott."
Bessie Karvelas was one of the first candidates to enter the hunt. She's the new deputy chief instructional officer for Chicago Public Schools. Before that, she was principal of one of the city's most successful high schools, Lincoln Park High. And she was controversial. Her dismissal of a popular librarian led to mass protests and student walkouts. She also raised the ire of the campus by ending off-campus lunch. Yet Karvelas also found success, with student acceptances to Ivy League schools soaring. She writes: "I am ready to work more intensively with the Florida Department of Education to implement its mission and vision in raising student achievement across diverse groups of both high-achieving and struggling students of diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds in all levels of education."