Wanted: Innovative Education Commissioner for FL's Students
With Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigning
from his job as the leader of education in our great sunshine state, it looks
as if public education has a monster job opening. Who would be better to list
qualifications for this pivotal position than Florida teachers?
So we’ve been brainstorming what we want in a candidate. Below
is a wish list of characteristics and traits that I’ve compiled after
conversations with Katy Courtelyou and other teacher leaders in the
Hillsborough County New Millennium Initiative (NMI). We need and request a
1. Who has relevant and recent teaching experience.
In a public school. Who understands the complexities of learning and teaching
and has done it successfully.
2. Who is not afraid to dive “into the trenches”
and is visible out of the office and in our classrooms.
3. Who has chutzpah. Someone with a backbone to
stand up for students, regardless of what is popular or what a political party
might say. Who knows and understands that teachers are the most valuable assets
we have in propelling public education forward. Someone who sees teachers as
the solution, not the problem (Can I
get an “amen?”).
4. Who believes in the power of PUBLIC
5. Who is an active listener and not a micromanager.
Who surrounds him/herself with really bright, hard-working people and trusts
their insights and decisions.
6. Who is open-minded. Out-of-the-box. Innovative.
Who has the courage to imagine an entirely different profession as we know it
today and the tenacity to set those visions into action, with the grit and
tenacity to see them through.
7. Who has a deep understanding of education in our
state. We want someone home-grown who has lived and breathed the system he or
she will be leading.
8. Who has communication skills that seek input
stakeholders and demonstrate inclusion of that input into program goals and
9. Who has education and business experience,
including school and business administration, data/research analysis, and
reaches out to teachers not just as a symbolic gesture, but as a genuine
collaborative effort to craft sensible and meaningful policies. And then
reaches out to them again to reflect on how the policies are working.
will connect meaningfully with parents, teachers, and students on an entirely
if he or she has children, is vested enough in the system to send them to
public schools. Enough said.
is inspiring. Who can motivate us. Support us. Lead us forward.
Past commissioners have possessed bits and pieces of this
desired list, but we believe all of these characteristics are critical to move
Florida forward in a substantial way.
Could we find someone who meets these criteria in a state
where the position is political and appointed? We think it's possible and urge
the powers-that-be to take our suggestions seriously.
After all, who better to determine criteria for an education
commissioner than accomplished teachers who serve Florida's children every day?