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Indiana school chief Bennett takes Florida post

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Indiana's state superintendent of public instruction was hired Wednesday as Florida's new education commissioner.

The State Board of Education unanimously selected Tony Bennett, a Republican who lost a bid for re-election in Indiana last month, from a slate of three finalists at its regular meeting in Tampa.

Board members cited Bennett's background as a teacher, principal, local superintendent and state schools chief as well as his active role in the implementation of Common Core State Standards. Florida is among 45 states, the District of Columbia and three territories that have agreed to adopt the national standards.

The board also cited Bennett's pledge to seek out the views of teachers, parents, administrators and community members.

Bennett led efforts in Indiana to adopt many of the accountability changes, including letter grades for schools, pioneered by Florida and former Gov. Jeb Bush, who has close ties to several board members.

Immediately after the vote, Bennett was ushered into the meeting room. He told the board he was looking forward to the opportunity to continue Florida's momentum toward improving student achievement and serving as an example for the rest of the country.

Before the vote, the board celebrated Florida's 2011 fourth-graders, who came in second only to Hong Kong on an international reading test.

The other finalists were Murray State University President Randy Dunn, who once served as state schools superintendent in Illinois, and Arlington, Va., education consultant Charles Hokanson, a former deputy assistant U.S. secretary of education in President George W. Bush's administration.

The board interviewed all three Tuesday.

Former Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigned in August after about a year on the job. He cited separation from his family in Virginia, where he previously had been secretary of education, after his wife, a law professor, was unable to find a comparable job in Tallahassee.

Bennett will be replaced by Democrat Glenda Ritz in January.

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  • How voters believe what is said and not what is done
    I note with great shock how the public (and newspapers) will believe what a politician says while ignoring what they do. Tony claimed "teacher accountability" but really seemed to only want to sell(give tax dollars) to private school management firms and student testing firms. The political donation list is a real eye opener. I just don't believe the donations were for the good of education. Poor Florida (and Purdue with Mitch's still unpublished contract---we can get lots of public input when we ignore open door laws.)
  • Florida is used to it.
    @IN Teacher Bennett will fit right in. Florida is already used to bullying and arrogance on a grand scale in the form of their crazed Tea Party governor Rick Scott. Bennett will merely help Scott trash the state further before voters show Scott the door in 2014.
  • Agreement
    Yes, John, I agree. The state of Florida better be prepared for bullying and arrogance on a grand scale. Good riddance!
    • Pray for the children of Florida
      Pray for the children of Florida as this disaster, Tony Bennett, takes over the education system in that state. Of course, with Jeb Bush already causing harm with his "education" policies, what more can be done? Sadly, we'll find out.

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