TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Board of Education may have given itself two more months to recruit candidates for the education commissioner post, but the head of the state's teachers union and Gov. Rick Scott signaled Wednesday that the right person could be under their noses.
Florida Education Association president Andy Ford said interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has an impressive resume and deserves consideration. Stewart has not applied for the permanent job thus far, but she now has until Nov. 30 under the revised schedule.
"She understands Florida, she understands our culture," Ford said. "She understands what it's like to be a teacher (and) what it's like to be an administrator here in our state. And I think we couldn't be in better hands."
Scott added that Stewart is "doing a great job," though he stopped short of encouraging the Board of Education to name her as a permanent replacement to Gerard Robinson.
"The commission has extended the search for a few more weeks to ensure we get the most qualified, dedicated commissioner in the nation, and we look forward to their recommendations," Scott said. "It would be inappropriate to prejudge any decision."
Scott had a big role in selecting Robinson, who resigned in August after a rocky year on the job.
Before being appointed interim commissioner, Stewart had been the state's K-12 chancellor for about a year.
Prior to that, she was deputy superintendent for academic services in St. Johns County, the state's deputy chancellor for educator quality and a principal in Marion County.
Stewart accompanied the governor on his education listening tour this month, and in his discussions, Scott often dropped the word "interim" when he introduced her to groups of parents and teachers.
It's unclear, however, if Stewart even wants the job full time. In August, she told the Board of Education she had no plans to apply for the position on a permanent basis.
"I will serve as interim until a permanent appointment is made," she said then.