Gerard Robinson’s mysterious departure remains a blemish on Rick Scott’s record and an embarrassment for Jeb Bush. The ongoing collapse of Bush’s massive accountability system is happening on Scott’s watch.
Robinson was clearly never right for the job and his selection can be attributed to the philosophical flaws of both men. Scott’s education naiveté was clear from the start when he provided a special screening of charter school propaganda film Waiting for Superman to legislators and brought in its faux heroine Michelle Rhee to be part of his education transition team. Bush, well, continues to be seen by republicans as a Solomon like figure who’s policies and decisions are never questioned.
Perhaps Scott at the time of his inauguration did, too. But does he still?
Predictably, two candidates among the cadre of Bush’s hand-picked Chiefs for Change have emerged. Likely leaked to the media by Bush’s acolytes, New Mexico education secretary Hanna Skendera and recently ousted Indiana ed boss Tony Bennett are said to be under consideration. Skendera told a New Mexico reporter last week she wasn’t interested. Bennett’s recent dispatch by red state voters dims his star considerably.
Skendera, who once served under Bush, is sure to understand the Florida job does not involve policy-making. That’s all done by Bush’s foundations which, in turn, lead republican legislators around like the Horse Whisperer. Bennett needs a new gig and would probably leap at the chance to keep Robinson’s Pied Piper act going on Bush’s behalf. It’s sort of like being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys while everyone really knows that owner Jerry Jones is really the head coach.
Anyway, does Scott really want this? Bush’s people – like state board member Robert Martinez floated Bennett’s name again last week. Scott probably doesn’t want the drama of answering questions about Bennett. Nor does he want to read divisive statements in the newspaper that come out of the mouth of an education commissioner that a loose cannon like Bennett would deliver.
Scott may favor the calm stewardship of the FDOE that Pam Stewart’s currently providing and the seamless transition her selection would go through. If it becomes clear that the next education commissioner still has to first pass a purity test administered by Bush, Scott’s lost the power struggle. Something Scott and Florida cannot have happen.