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The Blinding Glare of the Sunshine Law

Nobody, but nobody, wants to be Florida’s education commissioner! According to the St. Petersburg Times, as of last week there have been zero applicants for the supposedly prestigious position with the deadline just three weeks away.

Maybe by now that has changed, but probably not, according to folks familiar with this strange story. Certainly it’s significant that in a state that’s a custom-made hothouse for union-loathing “reformers” with a fetish for charter schools and “merit pay” and a pathological animus against tenure and due process for workers, nobody has “stepped up to the plate,” which being the state of folks like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, is more a boilerplate cracked ceramic.

Tom Butler, education department spokesman, said they’d “definitely not received any inquiries and the (recruitment) firm has not alerted us to any.”

Alas, it’s hard to get good help these days!

Why has prospective talent not yet crawled out from under the rocks? Chester Finn. Jr., a prominent pundit who will seize upon any intellectual pretext to condemn traditional public schools and civil service rights, speculates “…that Florida’s ‘sunshine’ laws prevent a lot of able people from applying.”

Indeed, official applications are open and public records according to Florida state law, but why should meritorious folks who yearn to do honorable service for society be deterred by a bit of potential scrutiny? Why should “sunshine laws” cloud their vision and impede their ambition? Are the courted candidates rendered skittish over the non-threat of mere identification?

The short list of most sought-after choices should include, according to Eduflack blogger Patrick Riccards, who luxuriates in making educated guesses that founder, The New Teacher Project’s Tom Daly (a protégé of disgraced and disgraceful Michelle Rhee,) Deborah Gist, commissioner in Rhode Island (remember Central Falls?), and Bill Evers, former assistant secretary of education under that presidential pride of Yale alumni, George W. Bush.

The “powers that be” would like to engineer a clone of outgoing Eric J. Smith to replace him. Unfortunately there’s a plethora of his seed polluting the soil of education reformation. It should be a cinch to replace unworthiness with a copy, given the template.

The Florida political establishment has by and large been marinated in the misnomer of “reform.” True reform would be driven by facts and decency and put them out of business.



  • 1 Bob Calder
    · May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Manuel Gonzales from Puerto Rico would be a good choice. He oversaw a successful reform. Nobody in the US has done it save MA and MN and they only did math. I would like to point out that nobody that works in Florida – Marzano, Rhee, or the rest has used actual research that can identify the strength of a variable. Gonzales will refuse because he probably could not find support from the fundamentalist reform belief system in Tallahassee. Jeb Bush’s Liberty University trained education expert has been wrong for ten years but still somehow commends respect.

    Perhaps this Sunday when they awake, finding themselves still in bed post-Rapture, the reformers will realize waving their hands over their watery stew of education won’t make it taste better.

  • 2 Bob Calder
    · May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Sorry – “commands respect”. I should also have said every government in the state operated under the Sunshine Law and has for over twenty years. Anybody that thinks it is a hinderance to reform should check to see if his conscience is anywhere to be found.