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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida's search for education commissioner lacking rock star candidate

Florida, the Big Man on Campus in some education reform circles, was supposed to swagger up and get the pick of the litter for a new education commissioner. It had the rep. It had the results.

But now it's looking more and more like the prom king with spinach in his teeth. The good-looking candidates don't want to dance.

The first list of 19, unveiled last week, turned out to be less a who's who of rising stars than a list of ... who? No buzz. No heft. So uninspiring that state education leaders extended the search.

A major problem, observers say: Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who some say ran off Florida's highly regarded commissioner, Eric J. Smith.

"Reformers might surmise that if the governor wasn't happy with a rock star like Eric Smith, he must be crazy," said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, a right-of-center think tank.

Even if a top-tier candidate emerges by the new June 6 deadline — and some are still being aggressively courted — it won't fully erase recent chatter that a state that has been a brash trailblazer suddenly looks dysfunctional and almost desperate.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 10:10am]

    

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