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Plenty of Candidates for Florida Education Post

A few months after Eric J. Smith announced that he was resigning as Florida education commissioner, more than two dozen candidates have put their names in contention to replace him.

Applicants for the job include Gerard Robinson, the state of Virginia's secretary of education; Bret Schundler, the former commissioner of education in New Jersey; and Williamson Evers, of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, who served in the U.S. Department of Education under George W. Bush.

Schundler, many will remember, was ousted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last year after an error on the state's Race to the Top application may have resulted in the state losing a $400 million award through the competition. Schundler later accused Christie of having made him a scapegoat for the state's loss.

Interestingly, Evers has been a critic of the effort to develop common academic standards among states, in which Florida is participating. He also was recently one of the organizers of a "manifesto" published by a group of education, political, and business leaders that argued against the development of shared tests and curriculum to go with common standards. Yet Florida is one of more than 40 states taking part in two assessment consortia, supported with federal Race to the Top money, to develop shared tests to align with the common standards agreed to by all but six states. In fact, Florida is not only a participant, it's a governing member of its group, which--as things currently stand--commits it to using the shared assessments that are developed.

Until a permanent replacement for Smith is found, John Winn, who served as education commissioner under former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will hold the post on an interim basis.

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