Paula Dockery Blasts Florida’s Twisted Education Leadership Structure

Former republican state senator Paula Dockery is now an influential syndicated columnist. In this morning’s Lakeland Ledger, she weighs in on the Bennett Scandal and points out  that Florida’s educational leadership structure is problematic:

Bennett resigned four days after the AP story broke. During those four days: Patricia Levesque, the executive director of Jeb’s Foundation for Florida’s Future, circulated a letter defending him; Democratic lawmakers called for his resignation; and the governor remained silent.

Isn’t it time for an honest conversation on doing away with a school-grading system that is costly, divisive and unreliable?

Systemically, just how much autonomy does the education commissioner have to run the department, and to whom is he directly accountable? In all fairness, it would be difficult for anyone to succeed in a toxic environment of distrust while having to report to so many chiefs.

Among the education chiefs are the commissioner, the state board that hires and can fire the commissioner, the Legislature that confirms his appointment, the governor who appoints the board, the former governor who was the father of Florida’s grading system and his political foundation that enjoys tremendous influence with legislators. Curiously missing from the hierarchy are school boards, teachers, parents and students.

Dockery did not just stumble upon this as it’s something she constantly reminded republican colleagues of in their zeal to pass Jeb Bush’s legislative agenda. But this is what Bush and his legislative allies wanted – to cut out school boards, teachers, parents and students.

In April of 2012, two outgoing superintendents predicted that demise for Florida’s accountability systems with one saying it  “would fall apart like a house of cards,” and that legislators were “making up the rules as they go along.”

How prophetic the superintendents proved to be.


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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