Putting Education Reform To The Test

What The Florida Board Of Education Should Look For In Next Commissioner


The Florida Board of Education meets Friday to discuss the search for a new Education Commissioner.

Education advocates and community groups sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott today asking him to consider search criteria offered by people other than state board members.

The coalition, led by Fund Education Now, says the Board of Education has adopted none of the suggestions offered by groups and individuals over the last month.

They believe Florida needs a commissioner who:

  • Will collaborate with parents, educators, community organizations, and local elected officials to restructure the flawed accountability system into one that improves learning rather than punishes
  • Is committed to ensuring that districts eliminate zero tolerance and implement fair disciplinary practices
  • Will promote the wise use of limited public dollars to support teaching and learning practices that prepare all students for college and career success, rather than an excessive focus on narrow definitions of achievement through testing
  • Will maintain the Task Force on Accountability for Exceptional Education, Special Needs, and English Language Learners as an advisory board
  • Is free of any real or perceived conflicts of interest with regard to privatization, test publishing, or lobbying

In contrast, the State Board of Education wants a commissioner who:

  • Is strongly committed to a student-first philosophy
  • Has a proven track record of leading a large organization dedicated to ambitious goals and continued improvement
  • Has demonstrated the ability to articulate a clear vision of quality education with documented results
  • Has a record of implementing programs that address the achievement gap
  • Can build consensus among high impact decision makers such as legislative and school leaders
  • Is well-informed about educational reform efforts in Florida and around the country
  • Is a team player who inspires others by example
  • Creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and shared decision-making

Starting salary is about $200,000 – more if the candidate has lots of experience.

The company carrying out the national search will provide the service for free because Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigned after just a year on the job.

Ray and Associates, Inc. was chosen for the search that led to Robinson’s hiring last year.

The contract with the search firm stated:

“If the candidate selected leaves the employ of the State Board of Education within two years of executing a contract, the Contractor will perform these services again at no charge to the Department, except for expenses.”

The new contract states that Ray and Associates will not be paid for the new executive search, but will be reimbursed up to $15,000 for travel expenses.

The company is responsible for coming up with a list of best candidates for Gov. Scott and the board.

Anyone can join the State Board of Education meeting via conference call. The call-in number is (866) 372-5781 and the conference code number is 22784440.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.


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