New education commissioner
As reported on our sister blog, the Gradebook: The state Board of Education has chosen a former superintendent from out of state to lead Florida schools in the post-Jeb Bush era. The vote was unanimous, and it came less than 10 minutes after ending a second round of interviews with three finalists.
Eric J. Smith, 57, will be the first permanent commissioner since Bush ally John Winn resigned in February after a rocky, 30-month stint. He's a former schools superintendent in Charlotte, N.C. and Anne Arundel County, Md., and currently a senior vice president with the College Board. He began his career as a teacher and principal in Florida.
Smith said he looks forward to joining Florida's education debate, no matter how polarized it might get. "Wherever you have groups of individuals who are passionate about education, that's a preferred place to be rather than apathy," he told the Gradebook. "At least then we can have honest, substantive discussions."