Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State Board of Education names interim education commissioner

Tapped to be Florida's interim education commissioner, Pam Stewart thinks it's critical for the state to continue moving toward higher academic standards.

"I don't want to see us lose ground in education reform during a transition," Stewart said via e-mail Thursday, hours after the State Board of Education unanimously appointed her to replace Gerard Robinson, who announced his resignation Tuesday.

A respected educator statewide, Stewart has been K-12 chancellor, essentially second-in-command, since September. She did not plan, however, to seek the job full-time. "I will serve as interim until a permanent appointment is made."

State Board members indicated Thursday they want to move quickly to fill the job and will likely use Ray and Associates, the same company that helped find Robinson a year ago. The firm agreed to conduct a new search for free if its chosen applicant leaves within two years of taking the commissioner's job.

Robinson started as commissioner on July 31, 2011.

Education analysts are watching Florida closely.

Gov. Rick Scott will have to get very involved in the selection process to instill confidence in prospective hires, said Andy Rotherham, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton.

"He's gone through commissioners like a little kid goes through shoes," Rotherham said, noting that the forced resignation of Robinson's predecessor Eric Smith raised concerns nationally. "He has to be able to engender confidence among the caliber of candidates they're going to need."

Some activist groups are already clamoring for a new commissioner who will lead the state away from what they consider a divisive and discredited accountability system.

Board members have said they hope to attract a leader who has made a mark nationally in education reform. They didn't expect a large number of qualified applicants, perhaps a dozen or so.

"I would imagine we could present a real opportunity for education leaders around the nation who are interested in continuing education reform," said board member Sally Bradshaw.

Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, pointed to some who currently hold similar roles in other states. The possibilities: New Mexico education secretary Hanna Skandera, a former Florida deputy commissioner, and Idaho superintendent of public instruction Tom Luna, who's close to former governor Jeb Bush.

At the same time, Hess added, Florida's political dynamics and its prescriptive evaluation, testing and related mandates from Senate Bill 736 might make the job less attractive to some outside leaders.

"It's going to be really tough to be the state chief as all that is playing out," he said.

Perhaps a Florida lawmaker, superintendent or advocate of Senate Bill 736 might be "a natural" instead, Hess suggested.

Education analyst Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who served in the George W. Bush administration, agreed that a politically savvy superintendent of a large Florida school district who's supportive of the state's broad reform agenda could fit the bill.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia have both come up in past discussions about the commissioner job.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek.

Pam Stewart, interim education commissioner

Current role: K-12 chancellor, overseeing student achievement; curriculum, instruction, and student services; school improvement; and educator quality

Prior jobs: Deputy superintendent for academic services, St. Johns County (2009-2011); Deputy chancellor of educator quality, Florida DOE; principal at Vanguard High School and Reddick-Collier Elementary School, Marion County

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education/Early Childhood, University of South Florida; Master of Education in Counselor Education, University of Central Florida

Florida State Board of Education names interim education commissioner 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]