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Florida House member wants education commissioner to be elected again

Published Nov. 20, 2015

News Service of Florida
A House Republican on Friday proposed a constitutional amendment that would lead to Florida returning to an elected education commissioner who would be part of the state Cabinet.

Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, filed the proposal (HJR 767) for consideration during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January. If passed by the Legislature, the proposal would need to gain approval from 60 percent of Florida voters.

The state in the past had an elected education commissioner who sat on the Cabinet, but that ended after voters in 1998 approved a ballot measure to restructure the Cabinet. The 1998 constitutional amendment also created the appointed state Board of Education, which names a commissioner.

Mayfield's proposal would lead to the governor and Cabinet serving as the state Board of Education, eliminating the appointed panel.

Below is the text of a news release this afternoon from Mayfield's office:

Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) and Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), have filed HJR 767 and SJR 942 that would place a constitutional amendment before voters to create an elected Commissioner of Education. If enacted and approved by the people, the Commissioner of Education would be a member of the Florida cabinet, which currently consists of the Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture.

"Public education is a top priority for many Floridians and one of the most important functions of government," said Representative Mayfield. "By allowing voters to choose their Commissioner of Education we assure that this priority receives the sole attention and focus of the office holder and voters will be able to directly hold that person accountable for the decisions he or she makes affecting our public schools."

"With such a large portion of the taxpayer's dollars being spent towards the public education of our children, it is justified that the Education Commissioner be democratically elected by the people." said Senator Garcia. "By being held accountable to the voters, our administrators can be more receptive to the needs of the vibrant and diverse communities in the state of Florida."

Since 2003, the top education official in the state has been appointed by the State Board of Education rather than elected by the people. If adopted by the legislature, this Constitutional Amendment would be placed on the November 2016 General Election ballot and would need at least 60% voter approval to take effect.


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