On Monday, Commissioner of Education Eric Smith submitted his
resignation effective June 2011, stating:
“The time has come to allow our newly elected governor to have input through the State Board of Education on the type of leader to pursue his goals for education.”
It is not the Governor who hires or fires the Commissioner of Education. That task is a constitutional duty taken by the State Board of Education.
On Tuesday, Board member Roberto Martinez called for an emergency meeting of the Board to "swiftly organize a search" for a replacement by August. The same day, Willard T. Fair, chairman of the State Board of Education, sent an indignant letter of resignation effective immediately citing his displeasure with the way Smith had been "fired", the fact that the Governor had never met with the Commissioner, the manner in which the Governor had ignored the State Board. In his last act as chair, he rejected Commissioner's Smith's resignation. He refused to participate in the emergency meeting calling it a sham, that the Governor had a candidate, and the Board's role would become a rubber stamping of that selection. He asked that his letter be placed into the record at the emergency meeting.
On Wednesday, Governor Scott called Commissioner Smith for the first time since the resignation and also made calls to State Education Board members, some talked to him for the first time. Scott said he recognized the duties and responsibilities of the Board in the selection of a new Education Commission and would help the Board make that selection.
"I will be working with the Board of Education to find a new commissioner," he said. "It's going to be somebody that believes the same way I do."
Scott has yet to clearly identify what he believes the goal and mission of public education is and its effect on the final customer - students.
On Thursday, Governor Scott signed SB736 into law. The State School Board met via telecon and decided to hire a search firm to find a replacement. The search firm will be selected by their next meeting.
Governor Scott will name three to the State Board of Education, replacing those members whose terms have or will soon expire. Fair's term expired in December and agreed to stay on til a replacement could be found.
What relevant experience and expertise will fill the an incoming Education Commissioner? Here is one scenario.
Florida Education Commissioner
Salary $195,000 - $283,000
No experience in the field of education preferred.
Senior or mid-level executive.
Manufacturing, IT experience preferred.
Broad graduate preferred.
The job requires skills necessary to implement a $700 million dollar federal grant, manage multi-million dollars contracts and subcontracts, vendors and a contingent of consultants deployed to support local school districts. Initiate an organizational shift to oversee a significant increase in the size of Department of Education and its role in implementing the legislative requirements of SB736.
Maybe the Broad Foundation has a candidate to fill this tall order.