Postponing the deadline to find a new state education commissioner was a clear message from the Florida Board of Education: education is the top priority, and politics wont hinder it.
On Tuesday the Board extended its search for candidates by two months, now on a Nov. 30 deadline.
According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, only 16 candidates applied for the position. The article questioned why, in a progressive state like Florida, there were so few applicants for such a high-profile job.
The postponement is because the Board wants to separate education from politics, putting the selection off until after the November election. Instead of suffering from political interference and indecision, the Board now has more time to look for qualified candidates.
After the removal of Eric Smith in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott, and the more recent resignation of Gerard Robinson, the position is in the middle of a heavy political atmosphere. Anyone looking to avoid extreme political interference might rethink Florida, Adam Emerson of Thomas B. Fordham Institute said to the Tampa Bay Times.
Yet the Boards postponement shows a strong stance against political interference and a renewed search for competent leadership in the field. At a time when state education is scoring among the lowest in the nation, this stance is highly needed.
Education is not a field that should be controlled by political intentions. Though always changing to adapt to each generation of students, the teaching of students should not waver back and forth at the hands of politicians. Those seeking power cannot interfere with education.
The profession of education, which sets the foundation for the next generation, should not settle for incompetence. By postponing the decision and lengthening its search for the best candidate, the Board has taken a powerful stance for education.
With the new date, applicants will be above the political spectrum with eyes on the true goal of the position: education, and education only. Once voting day is over and the die is cast, candidates will know the environment they will be walking into and education will be able to stand on solid ground until the next election.
To further demonstrate its opposition to political interference and its search for quality, the Board has already agreed that if it still doesnt approve of the list of applicants in November, it will again postpone selection for education commissioner until December.
Regardless of the election on the horizon, the Board has its message set in stone. No politics or politicians will get in the way of Floridas goal for the education of its children: top quality.