Florida Education Commissioner could go back to elected spot

The position of Florida Education Commissioner has been an appointed position since 1998 when voters decided to change it from an elected post.

But now some Florida lawmakers want to switch it back to an elected position to bring consistency and stability to the role.

According to an op-ed on Tbo.com, there have been seven commissioners in just the past 12 years. For a position that’s appointed, no commissioner has last more than two years. Clearly this can lead to some inconsistency in policies as well as lack of streamlined educational goals from one person to the next.

What are the benefits of an elected Florida Education Commissioner?

If the position of Florida Education Commissioner were to be elected again, it would at least guarantee the individual elected would be around for four years.

It would also mean that the education commissioner would be a part of the governor’s cabinet, and “and designate the governor and the full cabinet as the State Board of Education responsible for overseeing the state’s education system.”

In the name of stability, it would be a good move. The Florida Education Commissioner sticks around for four years, and if voters don’t like the person elected, they would have the right to vote for someone new.

On the other hand, this move gives more power to the voter and simply because the past couple of governors haven’t gotten the position right. It’s not because voters deserve it, it is because of efficiency and consistency.

That doesn’t sound like democracy. It just sounds like a fail safe to ensure some form of longevity is inserted into the position. Voters can also be passionate about issues without all of the facts — something that could hurt an education commissioner who is truly trying to improve education, but could see short-term grade/test score drops.

While giving voters more power to control the state’s education system is a good idea, it doesn’t help if the argument insists that cohesion is the best reason for doing so. I’m interested to see what Florida decides and what it means long-term for education in the state.

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