Saturday, August 3, 2013

Charles Parker: State Education Disarray Offers Chance For "Deep Breath"

Last week, news broke that Florida’s Commissioner of Education – Tony Bennett – had been accused of changing the school grade of an influential Republican’s charter school back when he ran the education system in Indiana.

Many of my liberal friends on Facebook gloated at the news.  (They had had little to say previously about Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer, but they are education wonks so I give them a pass on that.)
I responded to them that it seemed that Bennett had discovered a flaw in the state’s school grading system after being alerted by the aforementioned Republican donor/charter school maven.  However, as I also said to them, when he fixed the charter school’s issue, many schools benefitted from the fix.

A couple of days after my social network networking, Bennett resigned from Florida’s top spot, claiming innocence and noting he didn’t want to be a distraction to Governor Rick Scott’s education agenda.  (This, of course, in political terms means he was pressured to resign by someone on Scott’s team.)
Sources from Indiana (yes, I have friends in Indiana) tell me that there may be more smoke and maybe even some fire coming – so I think his resignation is a good thing.

Governor Scott has a lot on his education plate right now: FCAT writing scores last year were a hot mess, Common Core State Standards are supposed to be in place by next year and the test is not ready (and neither is anyone else), new teacher evaluation systems are in need of tweaking, and the list goes on.
Many state Democrats and the state’s teacher’s union want Florida to go back to electing the state’s education chief.  I haven’t really thought much about that except that if they want it, I probably don’t.  I generally think to the winner goes the spoils – so the governor should be able to appoint most of his team to implement his agenda.

Locally, we’ve had schools closing, teachers threatening to jettison their union, parents forming political advocacy groups, and an ongoing old-fashioned food fight between the school board and the county commission.
It's been a dificult spring and a hot summer.  A new school year will start soon and the white boards will be clean and the bulletin boards will be colorful.  Everyone really needs to take a deep breath.

Scott has named Pam Stewart an interim.  She is the current K-12 overseer who was formerly the interim before Bennett – and she seems to have credibility with most folks.
Let’s give her some space – and maybe the job for real – and see if she can straighten things out.


  1. "I generally think to the winner goes the spoils"...................unless that winner has a "(D)" after their name.

  2. I do not think I am on record as opposing any presidential or gubernatorial choices for cabinets/justices, etc. I also believe all presidential nominations deserve votes as per rules of the Senate. I am on record as to calling for resignations when they do knuckle-heady things (like lie to Congress, maybe).

  3. "My liberal friends?" more like "My liberal peers...."

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