Three years into his term, Florida Gov. Rick Scott should get an “incomplete” grade on education, in part because he is seeking political cover rather than providing clear leadership on key issues, an influential member of the state Board of Education said Thursday.
“His clear and directional leadership is needed to continue to advance Fla’s success,” two-term BOE member Kathleen Shanahan wrote during a live chat on redefinED. “If he continues to seek political cover in creating more noise and not enough clarity he will not gain anyone’s support in his re-election effort.”
Shanahan’s criticism of Scott was not entirely surprising, but more direct than it has been in the past. An ally of former Gov. Jeb Bush, Shanahan has been increasingly critical in recent months of ed policy shifts under Scott, including a “safety net” for school grades and a decision to distance Florida from Common Core-tied tests developed by a respected consortium.
“The teachers are excited about Common Core, the parents need to be educated on why this is the best next step for their kids to succeed and Gov. Scott can lead that effort or sit back and listen his way to complete confusion,” Shanahan wrote.
On other topics, Shanahan said Florida, a national leader in education reform for more than a decade, is at a “tipping point.”
“We are the leader in choice and performance across many forums, we need to challenge ourselves to maintain that,” she wrote. “Having all this noise about we are FOR higher standards, but not clear as to why and what higher standards we support (aka Common Core) is creating and adding to the negative noise and parents are confused and questioning the facts.”
Shanahan also offered her take on what former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist would mean for ed reform if he were re-elected as a Democrat. (The Republican Crist appointed Shanahan to her second term on the BOE.)
“Charlie Crist has stated some regrets in his education selections made when he previously was in elected office. If he acts on those stated regrets, YES there will be a setback for Florida on ed reform,” she wrote. “A key part of Fla’s leadership is the fullness of the system we offer, choice, tax scholarship programs, dual enrollment, Florida Virtual School and an excellent public system – all engaged with each other competing for the best education delivery for the kids to excel.”
“I do not think Charlie Crist if he is the Democrat nominee for governor, based on his supporters, would be able to support these programs in their entirety.”
To read the full transcript of Shanahan’s remarks, just check out the live chat below.