“Bennett Choice Good for Board of Ed, Not Kids”


I’m taking myself out of the business of predicting what Rick Scott will do. I predicted he’d say no to JD Alexander on his Poly Tech university and was wrong. I had hoped Scott would stand up to Jeb Bush on Tony Bennett, but he didn’t. Looks like Florida has another dangerous education ideologue in the governor’s mansion who will appear to be reasonable. He’s not, and the man he made no attempt to stop from being our next education commissioner isn’t either. Maybe its just that Scott didn’t have the juice to just say no to Bush – even if he had wanted to. A leading Florida parents group feels the same way.

“What did Florida’s children, taxpayers and voters do to deserve Tony Bennett? Last month, in an astounding non-partisan consensus, 1.3 million Indiana voters removed Tony Bennett and his extreme reform agenda from office. Bennett’s Indiana loss cannot be blamed on the 40,000 members of the teachers union. The people of Indiana spoke loud and clear. Why on earth would the Florida Board of Education select a man who was fired for putting education reform ideology ahead of what’s best for children?” asked Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, Fund Education Now.

“We are calling on Governor Scott to confirm that Florida’s children are more important than preserving political ideology. We are asking him to choose two new Board of Education members whose only concern will be to serve the children of this state. Florida voters are at a terrible disadvantage since the Governor appoints the Board of Education and they interview and hire the Education Commissioner. If Governor Scott is truly concerned about high-stakes testing and leveling the accountability playing field, he will look for two new board members from the ranks of the many qualified educators and parents he met on his tour,” said Christine Bramuchi, co-founder, Fund Education Now.

Looking back on the board’s interview with Bennett, it really did seem to be a first meeting after getting the job.  Desperate for the best candidate to tell them they hadn’t been wrong all along and the one who would tell Floridians they just didn’t know what was good for them, they picked Bennett. All those red state voters in Indiana were wrong,  you see. Its just that those teachers unions  oppose us and that anti-testing movement had been wrong-headed and created a new conventional wisdom all over the state.

Besides, Jeb said so. And Tony’s one of Jeb’s guys.

Bennett never fielded a question yesterday about the nearly $2 million in campaign contributions he took back in Indiana  from vendors, charter schools and shady online ed outfits who already do  business in Florida. Business that runs through the FDOE that Bennett is now in charge of.  Nor was he asked why a billionaire education privatization mogul in Eli Broad gave his campaign $50,000  just a few months ago.

Is it that the board didn’t know, didn’t care or that it just didn’t matter? None of the answers are good ones for Florida’s kids. But like Fund Education Now said, they are good for the state board of ed.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to “Bennett Choice Good for Board of Ed, Not Kids”

  1. If parents don’t want him and teachers don’t either, who does? Follow the money…

  2. Sad, but not surprising. Did anyone really think Rick Scott would consider anything more than money and the ideology that supports putting more money in the pockets of the plutocrats? The man ran a company that defrauded the government for…what was it again? $3 billion? Oh, but of course he knew nothing about that and it wasn’t his fault. He was just the CEO. Poor guy. Then he put $70 million of those ill-gotten gains into his campaign to narrowly beat out his opponent in an extremely low turnout election…And we expect someone principled, conscientious, who cares about the children (especially poor children)? I would say Floridians are to blame for their own mess they created by electing these oligarchs and crooks (or for not voting in the first place, which is the same thing). Unfortunately, a significant minority of voters did NOT vote for this criminal (or the other corrupt plutocrats running the legislature), and they still have to bear the brunt of these so-called “reforms” that do nothing more than put more money into the pockets of those already ripping off the nation. Good job, Florida. Good job.

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