What's next for Yecke?
Florida K-12 Chancellor Cheri Yecke said whether she stays on as the No. 2 at the Department of Education depends on the new No. 1, Eric J. Smith. The Board of Education voted 7-0 yesterday to make Smith the next education commissioner, choosing him over Yecke and Joseph Marinelli. Asked by The Gradebook after the vote if she'd be staying at DOE, Yecke nodded to Smith and said, "It's at his pleasure."
Former Gov. Jeb Bush hand-picked Yecke for the chancellor's job in 2005, after a short, tempestuous run as the education commissioner in Minnesota. Her tenure here has been largely free of controversy. But during yesterday's candidate interviews in Tampa, Board Chairman T. Willard Fair asked Yecke about the turmoil at her previous jobs, both in Minnesota and Virginia, where Yecke had also been commish. "There's quiet, there's a storm and then there's productivity," Fair said. What about you added fuel to the fire, he asked?
Yecke said she arrived in Virginia and Minnesota when those states were just beginning battles over accountability. "Florida is a different situation," she said. "You've already won the accountability wars." In response to another question, she said political trends in Minnesota – where she was appointed by a Republican governor - made her relations with a Democrat-led Legislature that much more tense. Minnesota is "a blue state trying to go purple," she said. And Democrats "wanted to extract a pound of flesh from the governor."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter