Some Florida Democrats are calling for education commissioner Tony Bennett’s resignation, amid revelations he ordered a redo of Indiana’s school accountability formula to boost one charter school‘s grade.
Florida state representative Marc Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) says Bennett’s scramble to devise a formula that would give Indy’s Christel House Academy an “A” shows he is the wrong man to lead Florida’s schools.
“You should not have people who are glaringly political in these types of positions,” Pafford says.
In Florida, the education commissioner is hired not by legislators or voters, but by the state board of education.
The seven-member board hired Bennett in December, a month after he lost his reelection bid as Indiana superintendent of public instruction.
Florida state representative Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) says she is troubled by the appearance of favoritism to one school over others.
“The matter at hand here is how can we trust Florida school grades at the hands of Tony Bennett, with Tony Bennett in charge?” Cruz says. “That’s my biggest concern, is what’s going on now.”
Bennett tells the Miami Herald he has “strong support” from the board.
And Republican Governor Rick Scott, who appoints the board, tells a West Palm Beach TV station Bennett is doing “a great job.”
Bennett says the push to revise the charter school’s grade came from a need to show legislators the accountability system was valid.