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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Should Florida return to an elected education commissioner?



In the aftermath of Tony Bennett's resignation, the Broward Teachers Union put forth the idea that perhaps Florida's decision to appoint an education commissioner hasn't worked too well.

"Because it is such an important position, BTU believes that the Education Commissioner should be elected by Florida voters," union president Sharon Glickman said in a release. "If our state’s voters can be entrusted with going to the polls and electing the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, then certainly they should be able to elect the state’s Education Commissioner."

It's not a novel concept. State senators Joe Negron and Greg Evers in 2012 proposed a joint resolution that would have put the position back in the voters' hands for 2015. It died in committee, but signaled that the idea hasn't gone away in a state that still sees the majority of its district superintendents elected.

It's easy to point to the recent past when suggesting that the appointed route hasn't been widely successful. Five people have held the post, either permanently or on an interim basis, during Gov. Rick Scott's first (and only) term.

And it's not as if finding someone considered high caliber has been easy. The State Board of Education extended its national searches in 2011 and 2012, each time for lack of quality candidates.

State Board member John Colon told the Gradebook he expected to see another national search, some time after putting an interim commissioner in the seat. But should the state consider an elected commissioner again instead?

[Last modified: Thursday, August 1, 2013 4:12pm]


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