Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Finalists for Florida education commissioner make their pitch

TAMPA — The five finalists to become Florida's next education commissioner pitched themselves to the State Board of Education on Monday during a five-hour meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott.

Board members, who extended the application period in May amid disappointment with the first round of applicants, said they were pleased with the quality of the final slate of candidates.

A decision on who would replace outgoing Commissioner Eric J. Smith could come as early as today. Smith resigned under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott.

"I am very pleased," board member John Padget of Key West said of the finalists. "There were one or two that were excellent."

Vice chairman Roberto Martinez of Coral Gables said he expected Scott will have some influence over the final decision. That is no different, he added, than the sway Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist had in the naming of past appointed commissioners.

The finalists are:

• Loretta Costin, Florida chancellor of career and adult education.

• Thomas P. Jandris, dean, Concordia University Chicago.

• Gerard Robinson, Virginia secretary of education.

• Bret Schundler, former New Jersey education commissioner.

• Stacia Smith, superintendent of the Clark County, Ohio, Educational Service Center.

Each candidate had about one hour Monday to answer questions and make the case for why he or she would make the best commissioner for Florida. Board members were keen to hear what the hopefuls would do immediately upon taking the reins, knowing that the state has several education projects under way — including implementing new teacher evaluations, Race to the Top and a national core curriculum in English and math.

They also asked pointed questions about the candidates' thoughts regarding college readiness, the use of tests and areas where Florida might improve its education offerings.

Former Florida Commissioner John Winn is serving as interim commissioner. One of the first things the new person will have to do is appoint a new chancellor for K-12 education.

That post is currently being held on an interim basis by Mike Grego, former superintendent of Osceola County schools.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Finalists for Florida education commissioner make their pitch 06/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2011 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Wrestling to return to old Tampa armory — but just for one night

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the first time in decades, wrestling will return to the old Ft. Homer W. Hesterly Armory with a reunion show scheduled for late September.

    For the first time in decades, wrestling will return to the old Ft. Homer W. Hesterly Armory with a reunion show scheduled for late September.
Now named the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, the armory regularly featured stars such as Dusty Rhodes and Jack Brisco. On September 26, it will host a one-time only reunion night. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times file photo (2016)]
  2. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

    Whistle Stop Bar & Grill is one of the main stops on Main Street in Safety Harbor. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  3. John Morgan intends to pressure every Florida politician to fund wage initiative


    John Morgan, the publicity-loving personal injury lawyer/entrepreneur who spearheaded the successful medical marijuana initiative, soon plans to start collecting signatures for a 2020 ballot initiative raising Florida minimum wage. He plans to "spend millions of my own money" on the effort, but he also intends to …

  4. Westbound traffic on Courtney Campbell blocked after crash


    Westbound traffic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway is being diverted following a crash early Thursday morning.

  5. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront


    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]