- DOJ reaches largest-ever federal government settlement over auto loan discrimination
- U.S. Navy to start giving gay couples marriage benefits in Japan
- Sen. Harry Reid goes to hospital as a precaution
- Fla.’s Trey Radel exits rehab, ‘excited’ to resume congressional role
- U.S. nuclear general boozed it up, chased ‘hot women’ in Russia: report
- 45 Calif. students at one school test positive for tuberculosis exposure
- Rob Ford on women: Give them cash ‘and they are happy’
- Ku Klux Klan group holds recruitment meeting in Maryland
- Airport assassination: Mayor, 3 others killed at Manila airport
- Tea party-type lawmakers take mysterious, off-books trip to Mideast
Bennett takes Florida education post
State teachers unions immediately criticize decision
Question of the Day
Just five weeks after voters ousted him from office, Tony Bennett already has a new gig.
The trailblazing but controversial Indiana schools chief, a key force in implementing Gov. Mitch Daniels‘ broad education reform agenda, was named Florida’s education commissioner Wednesday.
“I look forward to getting out, visiting schools, and meeting with and listening to students, parents, teachers and leaders in districts across the state as we work together to ensure that every student in Florida has the kind of world-class education that allows them to flourish,” Mr. Bennett said.
His backing of charter school expansion, private school vouchers, merit pay for teachers and other steps has made him one of the most recognizable figures in a reform movement that also counts among its leaders other Republicans, such as Mr. Daniels, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“Florida couldn’t have landed a bigger rock star in terms of the education community,” said Adam Emerson, a Florida-based analyst with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. “The evening Tony Bennett lost, the wheels started moving in Florida. Indiana and Louisiana had taken a bigger spotlight [in education reform], but this is the jolt that Florida needs to create its own buzz.”
Mr. Bennett’s appointment was, not surprisingly, immediately panned by Florida’s teachers unions, who believe Mr. Scott and the state Board of Education “have ignored the parents and teachers of our state” with the pick.
“Bennett proved to be divisive in his tenure in the same position in Indiana. He is a champion of the testing mania, unchecked expansion of charter schools and voucher programs, and has proven to advance the Jeb Bush education agenda,” said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association. “We certainly hope he has leaned his lessons by being rejected in Indiana. But we’re skeptical.”
Mr. Bennett is no stranger to outspoken opposition from the nation’s teachers unions. Indiana’s leading labor groups were among his harshest critics and led a determined effort to defeat him in the Nov. 6 election.
Those attempts ultimately were successful, as Mr. Bennett lost to veteran teacher Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.
The future of Indiana’s education reforms is now in doubt without Mr. Bennett at the helm, though Ms. Ritz will be limited in her power since the changes were enacted by the state legislature.
Mr. Bennett’s defeat was one in a string of setbacks for the school reform movement, which has also seen Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to restrict teachers’ collective bargaining power struck down by a judge.
In Louisiana, Mr. Jindal’s school vouchers program recently was ruled unconstitutional, though he promised this week to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama sends 45 service members to South Sudan
- White House says it's open to 45 of panel's proposed 46 NSA changes
- President gets budget win -- but only by staying out of negotiations
- 'There's something about moms:' White House enlists mothers to sell Obamacare
- White House hints Olympic envoys a shot at Putin over gay rights
Latest Blog Entries
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Huge backlash mounts over suspension of 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson
- D.C. to tout Obamacare among youth waiting for Air Jordans
- Dems use new filibuster rules to approve DHS nominee Alejandro Mayorkas under investigation
- TARGET credit card theft swells to 40 million victims
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Special ops vets slam military benefit cuts
- Deportations under Obama plunged to just 1 percent last year
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow