“Institutional Arrogance” at the Florida Department of Education

While the editors of the Lakeland Ledger were urging incoming education commissioner Tony Bennett to “have a more inclusive management style,” they took aim at the department he is charged with running:

Tallahassee’s frequent, and embarrassing, releases of inaccurate student assessment data, flawed teacher assessment scores, skewed school grades and so on is as much a consequence of the Department of Education’s top-down management style as anything else.

For the most part, requests from Florida school superintendents for a more collaborative relationship with the Education Department have fallen on deaf ears, with predictable consequences.

Such institutional arrogance, unfortunately, has been the rule rather than the exception for far too long. That’s what Bennett should work to reverse.

If Bennett can establish a more productive relationship between the department and the school districts, that would be great progress.res

The Ledger’s editors unfortunately give the republican-dominated legislature a pass as it is they who have deliberately taken control away from local school boards and given it to Tallahassee. This “top-down management” style originates which legislative dictates from the Bush Foundation as evidenced from Patricia Levesque’s efforts earlier this month to change the SB 736 formula with new legislation.

But the “institutional arrogance” the Ledger writes exists. There’s no better example than  former education commissioner Gerard Robinson’s scold earlier this year of Florida’s school board members to essentially do as they were told when they were considering a resolution against high-stakes testing. Robinson’s missive is defensively statute-based as Florida’s legislators have purposefully wrested control of schools away from local elected officials and given it to political appointees at the FDOE and on the state board of education.

Florida’s newest political appointee, Tony Bennett, knows about this dynamic. What improvements, if any, he intends to make in it is still up in the air.


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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9 Responses to “Institutional Arrogance” at the Florida Department of Education

  1. Bob, check out Tampa Bay Times to see if Bennett has open ears.

  2. Ummm, Bennett was bounced by Indiana voters for being a corporate reform ideologue, or as we say in these parts, a Big Bidness Do-Boy. Inclusiveness is NOT in Bennett’s, Voldemort’s or his legislative hand maiden’s vocabulary.

  3. DrT says:

    Here in Indiana, inclusiveness and shared leadership was definitely NOT part of Tony Bennett’s style! He pushed through changes in licensure rules after ignoring the overwhelming opinion of voters, parents, teachers and school district leaders expressed in public hearings about the rules… meetings that he appears to have only convened because he was legally required to do so!

    He was quick to recommend state take-over of schools and turned them over to private corporations run by his campaign donors… expect more of the same, not more collaborative leadership from Bennett. Be wary of his decisions! His office improperly channeled millions of dollars to one of the private school companies based on “incorrect” reporting of attendance in the Indianapolis public schools.

    If, as this article suggests, there is history of false information and top-down rule in Florida’s schools, you can be assured that Tony Bennett will only make the problem worse!

  4. Missy says:

    LOL….Bennett reducing arrogance……he’s ALL ABOUT arrogance! Good luck with that!!!

  5. DFitz says:

    As a public school teacher in Indiana, all I can say is, this sounds like “business as usual” for Tony Bennett. You have my sympathy, Florida students and educators!

  6. Aimee says:

    I am sorry to break the news to you, but Bennett will only make matters worse. He will tell the public how lazy the public school teachers are and that charter schools are the miracle answer.

  7. Susie says:

    Good luck Florida, you are going to need it if you think TB will not be arrogant and not support your top down system. He will continue the same old same for you. My sympathy for educators and students in the Florida system.

  8. Diane Kepus says:

    It is very sad that with all the research and laying out of facts that are truthful, parents are still refusing to call these legislators and money-mongers to account for their game palying with their children’s futures.

    If you don’t want to take the responsibility of taking care of your children properly than why have them. That responsibility goes further than just putting clothes on their backs, food in their mouths and a roof over their head. We have out right communists laying out the ground rules for the education of our children for “profit” no less and they could care less about their futures. They are liars & cheaters and the press in Florida refuses to address the real problems and it begins with the legislators pushing the buttons and making the rules.


  9. Diane Kepus says:

    Bennett does not have open ears – he knows how the game is played and he takes his orders from JEB BUSH & PATRICIA LEVESQUE. Hasn’t American woken up to the Bush way yet? You won’t be happy until you see the Rubio/Bush – Bush/Rubio ticket! Gag me!

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