Eric Smith is new education commissioner

10/08/07 Seán Kinane
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The State Board of Education interviewed the three finalists today and unanimously chose Dr. Eric Smith to become the next Commissioner of Education for Florida.

The decision this afternoon followed hourlong interviews with Smith and the two other finalists, Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke and Dr. Joseph Marinelli at the Tampa Airport Marriott. Smith is currently a senior vice president with the College Board, the New York City company that administers the SAT exam.

The education commissioner oversees all public schools in Florida, including community colleges. During his interview, Smith emphasized that he loved to analyze data about student performance. One member of the state Board of Education is Roberto Martinez, who has been General Counsel to the Dade County Republican Party Executive Committee. Martinez asked Smith if this emphasis on data collection would leave teachers smothered in paperwork rather than being able to focus on teaching students.

Smith was previously the superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina and Anne Arundel County school district in Maryland.

According to an article in Education Week, Smith’s starting salary as Superintendent of Anne Arundel schools was $197,000 with another $100,000 in benefits and potential bonuses. Smith said that the reason Anne Arundel County hired him was to improve the performance of students in the district.

Smith outlined some of the changes that were implemented in that Maryland county that may have accounted for performance improvements.

That was Dr. Eric Smith who was unanimously chosen by the State Board of Education to be the next Florida Commissioner of Education today. The next Board meeting is next Tuesday in Tallahassee where charter schools and the 2008-09 budget will be discussed.

To learn more:

Florida Department of Education

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