States

Tony Bennett to Resign as Florida Education Commissioner

By Andrew Ujifusa — August 01, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

UPDATED

Tony Bennett will announce today that he intends to resign as Florida’s education commissioner, per the Tampa Bay Times and the Associated Press. This follows a series of stories about steps Bennett took while Indiana’s K-12 chief last year to boost the grade of a charter school run by a political donor by tweaking the state’s A-F accountability system.

UPDATE: In a press conference today, Bennett called allegations of wrongdoing based on those stories “malicious” and “unfounded,” but said he had decided to resign to eliminate distractions for Florida education and political leaders. He also said he would ask Indiana’s Inspector General to investigate the grade-changing situation in Indiana and was “fearless” about the results of such an investigation.

“It’s not fair to the children of Florida that I continue as commissioner and deal with the distractions,” Bennett said.

He announced that Pam Stewart will serve as the interim education commissioner. Stewart, currently the chancellor of public schools at the Florida education department, had previously served as commissioner between the resignation of former commissioner Gerard Robinson last year and Bennett’s appointment. The next permanent Florida education commissioner will be the fourth to serve Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Bennett said at his press conference today that Scott, a Republican, told him that he should stay despite the news.

Bennett took over Florida’s top education job in January, after being defeated by Democrat Glenda Ritz in the Indiana election. He has close ties with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, who wields considerable influence in Florida education policy through two K-12 advocacy groups. Bennett has been considered one of the most visible (and controversial) education officials in the country due to his aggressive approach and focus on school choice, school accountability, and teacher evaluations. Bennett is also an influential member of the group Chiefs for Change, also affiliated with Bush. Bennett said that Bush had also asked him to stay on after the news from Indiana broke.

On July 31, Scott said that Bennett had been doing a “great job” overseeing public schools in Florida. Perhaps ironically, Bennett had approved a significant relaxation to Florida’s own A-F accountability system last month that will prevent school grades from dropping precipitously over the next two years.

In a July 30 conference call, Bennett denied any wrongdoing, stating that he had merely attempted to eliminate unfair penalties to the Indianapolis charter school, Christel House Academy, as well as other schools. He called the charges of misconduct “absurd”.

Almost exactly one year ago, on July 31, 2012, Gerard Robinson announced his resignation from the post after roughly a year on the job. Bennett lasted approximately seven months.

Upon hearing the news, Michael Petrilli, a senior vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington who had defended Bennett’s actions regarding Indiana’s A-F system in a July 30 blog post, tweeted:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Bill to Restrict How Race and Racism Is Taught in Schools Headed to Texas Governor
If the "critical race theory" bill sounds familiar, that's because lawmakers passed a similar one during the regular legislative session.
Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
4 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States Infographic Which States Are Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Schools?
Some states are reporting the number of COVID-19 cases in their schools and districts. Use this table to find your state's data.
Image shows the coronavirus along with data charts and numbers.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
States From Our Research Center Map: A-F Grades, Rankings for States on School Quality
Here’s a map showing grades for all the states on this year’s Quality Counts summative report card, on which the nation gets a C overall.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
Illustration of students reading with pie chart.
Getty
States Nation Gets a 'C' on Latest School Quality Report Card, While N.J. Again Boasts Top Grade
A slight increase in this year's Quality Counts score isn't enough to boost the nation's school system above last year's middling grade.
8 min read
Illustration of students reading with pie chart.
Getty