Education commissioner pick draws fire - FOX 13 News

Education commissioner pick draws fire

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TAMPA (AP) -

There's a dramatic contrast in the reaction to Florida's new pick for education commissioner.

The State Board of Education has hired Tony Bennett, who was just defeated last month in his bid for re-election as Indiana's state superintendent of schools.

Gov. Rick Scott praises Bennett as having a great record of achievement in Indiana, while Florida's teachers union calls him a champion of testing mania and voucher programs.

During Bennett's tenure in Indiana, he developed a voucher program and modified the collective bargaining process to focus only on pay and benefits.

The high school graduation rate increased four points under his leadership.

The Florida Education Association says Gov. Scott must not have been listening carefully on his recent education tour around the state.

Spokesman Mark Pudlow says Bennett represents many of the things that parents, students and teachers don't like, such as heavy testing and tying students' performance to teacher pay and school grades.

"All the kinds of pressures that teachers, administrators and parents have been complaining about are the things that Tony Bennett has supported, so in a lot of ways, it's kind of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss'," Pudlow said.

Bennett will replace interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who has served in that role since Gerard Robinson resigned from the job last summer.

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