Bennett wins Florida's top education job

Dec 12, 2012

Ousted Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has a new job — Florida Commissioner of Education. Florida's Board of Education voted Wednesday morning to give Bennett the Sunshine State's top appointed education job.

Bennett threw his name into consideration after losing his re-election bid to Democrat Glenda Ritz. He was one of three finalists the Florida State Board of Education interviewed Tuesday in Tampa.

Board member John Padget noted Bennett’s experience working with teachers and administrators is an asset Florida will need to implement new policies.

“We need someone that has the understanding that no matter how good the policy may be, if it’s not implemented faithfully at the classroom level, then it’s just words,” Padget said. “As a teacher, he brings that very special perspective.”

Bennett has long credited former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for pioneering many of the policies he pushed for in Indiana. On Wednesday, Bennett sounded ready for a transition.

“I look forward to this opportunity of working with you guys and the governor,” Bennett said. “I think we have a great opportunity to capture Florida’s moment, to continue to get the results you’ve gotten, and to continue to propel Florida to be the example for the rest of the country.”

Like Indiana, Florida is one of 46 states on track to adopt a set of academic standards known as the Common Core. Bennett has been influential in developing an accompanying assessment system as well.