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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Stark choices ahead for Rick Scott



The Florida Board of Education has three open positions for Gov. Rick Scott to fill.

His choice of applicants so far give him ample opportunity to make a statement about education.

On the one hand, he could pick Florida 2010 teacher of the year Megan Allen, a vocal critic of SB 736 who worked with the Florida Education Association to craft largely ignored teacher-led performance pay ideas. Allen applied along with Nicole Marsala, Broward County's 2009 teacher of the year, whom she served with on the Commissioner Eric Smith's 2010 Teacher Task Force.

On the other, he could select Barney Bishop, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, a big proponent of Florida's move to the "cutting edge of education reform." Or Gordon Gillette, president of TECO Energy. Or current board member Akshay Desai, a Scott financial backer who heads Universal Health Care.

Other applicants include Elaine Liftin, president of Miami-based Council for Educational Change, which connects business executives with public schools; Don Polly, a retired teacher with ties to former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette; Naples real estate broker and Scott supporter Dorene McShea; and Jacksonville food wholesaler Gary Chartrand.

Allen told the Gradebook that she applied after learning she would not have to resign her position, because "I truly feel we need a teacher on our board. It makes perfect sense." (The board currently has only one retired educator; the others are from the business community.) Yet she discounts the likelihood of winning a seat. "I think I stand a snowball's chance in Florida in July, but I'm always willing to give things a try," she said.

Until Scott makes an appointment, current members T. Willard Fair, who is term-limited, and Desai will remain on the board. Susan Story resigned late last year to move out of Florida, leaving the seven-member board one person short.

[Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:38am]


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