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Education

Florida Education Commissioner Resigns

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Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett resigned today in the fallout of a controversy over the changing of school grades in Indiana, where he served as education head before moving to Tallahassee.

"I don't think anything should distract us," Bennett said in a late morning news conference. He praised Gov. Rick Scott for his leadership and support and said he ends his tenure "with my head held very high."

A scandal involving grade adjustment for a particular school in Indiana where he was the former state Education Commissioner sealed his fate after it was first reported by The Associated Press.

During a late-morning news conference, Bennett recommended Pam Stewart to be his replacement. She is chancellor of the state Division of Public Schools. That decision will be up to Gov. Rick Scott.

Bennett was selected by Gov. Scott after he lost his reelection bid to remain Indiana's superintendent in November. Teachers opposed him for pushing test score-based evaluations, paying teachers based on those evaluations and other policies. Conservative voters opposed Common Core, which they believe will reduce local authority over education.

Those are policies Florida has already approved.

Bennett is a founding member of Chief for Change, an eduction group affiliated with the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Bennett is close with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who pioneered many of the policies Bennett supports and pushed for in Indiana.