American Federation for Children Applauds Appointment of Tony Bennett as Next Florida Education Commissioner

Dec 12, 2012, 15:51 ET from American Federation for Children

Bennett, the outgoing Indiana superintendent, was unanimously selected by Florida's State Board of Education

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children—the nation's voice for educational choice—today praised the appointment of outgoing Indiana state superintendent Tony Bennett as Florida's next education commissioner. 

Bennett, who is serving in his last month as state superintendent of public instruction in Indiana, spent much of the past four years ushering in expansive education reforms across the Hoosier State, including expanding access to charter schools and virtual schools, as well as perhaps his most signature achievement—helping create the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, a statewide voucher program for children from low- and middle-income families.

The voucher program, for which Bennett advocated heavily during his term as superintendent, was the most expansive first-year voucher program ever, enrolling nearly 4,000 students last year. This year, more than 9,300 students are enrolled across the state.

"Tony Bennett will serve Florida's children and families well by continuing his work to implement high-quality and accountable school choice programs," said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor for the American Federation for Children.  "His record of putting Indiana's children first will certainly continue in Florida, which is great news for families across the state."

The Florida State Board of Education voted today unanimously to appoint Bennett, just over a month after he lost a close re-election bid for a second term as Indiana's superintendent of public instruction.  He will replace former education commissioner Gerard Robinson, who resigned in August. Bennett is expected to begin in his new role in January.

The American Federation for Children has worked for years in both Indiana and Florida to expand educational options for all children, especially disadvantaged children.

"I can't think of a better leader than Tony to ensure that policies that work for Florida's children are enacted and strengthened," Chavous said.

Florida has two private school choice programs, the Florida Scholarship Tax Credit, which serves nearly 49,000 children this school year, as well as the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities.

Across the country, there are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia.  This year, it is anticipated that approximately 250,000 children will be beneficiaries of these programs.

SOURCE American Federation for Children