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Tony Bennett: ‘I would like to take Florida to the next level’

The Florida Department of Education just released the last batch of applications for state education commissioner, including Tony Bennett’s.

In his cover letter to Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand, dated Nov. 29, Bennett notes his work in Indiana and says he would welcome the opportunity to continue in Florida. “Your state was the leader in starting this movement of making decisions based solely on kids,” he writes, “and I would like to take Florida to the next level.”

Bennett’s resume highlights a long list of initiatives in the Hoosier State, including a number related to parental school choice. The statewide voucher program has garnered the most attention, but Bennett notes progress in other sectors, too: “Successfully defended against caps on the number of charter schools, implemented a virtual voucher pilot program and ushered the program from pilot to full implementation, and proposed and developed the Indiana Charter Board – all while bringing accountability to charter schools in the form of A through F grades.”

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at