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.