Florida Gets New Ed Head But As Conservative Con Jobs Go, Not So New

19 07 2011

JJ’s note: this was drafted last month when I was pretty hot about it, so I set it aside to cool off. Well, I did cool off about THIS but only because everything else has me even hotter now! (At least it kept me from blogging the Casey Anthony debacle as yet another Florida shame.)

So I just reread it and it’s not wrong or incomplete, just pissy. To get it out of the draft file and make room for new and bigger outrage, here it is:

What a discouraging “choice” . . .

After bullying his way into our state’s governorship with $70 million he bilked from taxpayers, corporate fraudster Rick Scott quickly forced out Florida’s education commissioner (who himself was no prize — he’d come to what used to be called public service from a for-profit testing company, to put even more misplaced emphasis on said testing to dominate the lives of teachers and kids.)

Yesterday Scott got what he wanted, yet another weapon in his grand scheme to destroy our common wealth, an even more direct dismantler of public education, a career-long panderer to corporate interests in education sold with soothing sounds of concern for kids and schools: Gerard Robinson.

Gerard Robinson is from Virginia’s ed department but not by much and not having done much (he was there one year, supervising four employees.)

Virginia Education Secretary Gerard Robinson, who took that job just last year, has applied to be Florida’s next education commissioner after being courted by officials there. . .

Florida officials approached Robinson about the job, said Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

“Given the secretary’s success here in Virginia, and his national reputation as a leader in education reform efforts, their interest in speaking to him about the opening is understandable,” Martin wrote in an email.

McDonnell, a Republican like Scott, appointed Robinson to his present $152,793 job. Before that, he had focused his interests on charter schools, vouchers and other school choice issues. Those also are priorities for Scott.

Robinson has served as president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and worked on Virginia’s initial charter school legislation in 1998 when he was on the staff of state Del. Mary Christian, D-Hampton.

As secretary, his job includes advocating for McDonnell’s priorities such as establishing more charter schools and performance incentives for teachers including merit pay, which is something Florida is implementing.

Here’s what VA governor McDonnell had to say about Robinson, and then what Diane Ravitch rebutted with, and why JJ isn’t buying what McDonnell and Scott are peddling:

McDonnell, the Virginia governor, called Robinson “a national leader in the field of education reform and innovation,” who is credited with coordinating efforts to expand charter schools, establish college laboratory schools, improve virtual learning programs and implement a performance pay pilot program.

Palm Beach Post:

But Diane Ravitch, former U.S. assistant secretary of education and a leading education historian, noted that Robinson’s resume doesn’t show any experience working as a teacher, principal or administrator at a traditional K-12 public school. (From 1991-1992, his resume lists him as a fifth-grade teacher at the Marcus Garvey private school in Los Angeles.)

“I assume the Governor wants someone who will advocate for vouchers and charters,” Ravitch said in an email, referencing Gov. Scott. “If so, he found the right person. I wonder who will advocate for the overwhelming majority of Florida’s children, who are enrolled in public schools?”

Not Michelle Rhee from Gov. Scott’s “transition team” last winter, one answer on which I’m sure enough to bet money, if there are any foolish takers reading.

“The thing that kills me about education is that it’s so touchy-feely,” [Rhee] tells me one afternoon in her office. Then she raises her chin and does what I come to recognize as her standard imitation of people she doesn’t respect. Sometimes she uses this voice to imitate teachers; other times, politicians or parents. . . .’Well, you know, test scores don’t take into account creativity and the love of learning,’” she says with a drippy, grating voice, lowering her eyelids halfway. Then she snaps back to herself.

“I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t give a crap.’

Part of my professional responsibilities for the same Florida Department of Education now at issue, was evaluating education personnel in various school roles. The more political, the less professional proved itself true in every case I can think of, looking back over almost a quarter century of education work. (And things were not nearly so nakedly politicized then, as they’ve become.)

On top of which, this new education leader was hardly a leader in his own education and even now only has a master’s degree, rather than my field’s de rigueur doctorate (especially before one earns hundreds of thousands of dollars a year telling doctorate-holding professionals they’re wrong and hurting kids so shut up and get out . . .)

In his application, he said he was a “less-than-stellar high school student” who spent most of his time “playing football, partying and chasing girls,” so he knows “firsthand the importance of a quality education.”


Talk about a non sequitur (he DOES know what that means, at least, just not how to avoid it in a written application to lead education? His master’s after all, wasn’t from a historically black college but Harvard, where presumably he did not play football?)

Robinson makes a salary of almost $153,000 as Virginia secretary of education.

His salary and start date are still being negotiated for the Florida Education Commissioner position. However, Smith’s salary during his time as education commissioner was $275,000 a year.

Again, huh? So let us sum up: he personally is doing very, very well not in business but as a public education servant at taxpayer expense, and not with a terminal degree nor relevant experience putting our money where his mouth is, while those of us who have that degree and the experience and kids in the game, languish. . .plus like Scott, he’s not even from around here . . .

More if you can stand snooking at this train wreck any longer than it took you to read this far: Education Nation: Thinking school is a social network



2 responses

20 07 2011

[Carpet] Baggers.

12 08 2011

Just heard on NPR that because of all this, FL is currently paying not one, not two but THREE men simultaneously as our commissioner of education — the one Scott forced out, the one Scott brought back as interim AND now the even more politically extreme and professionally counterproductive than the other two, the one Scott just recruited from out-of-state. Who is being paid $275,000 without a doctorate, almost twice as much as he made in VA.

And school isn’t even in session!

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