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Lookout, teacher union. Controversial Indiana ed boss could be Florida bound

Struggling to recruit a new education commissioner, we hear that Gov. Rick Scott and his folks are looking to recruit Indiana's controversial education chief, Tony Bennett. He pushed bills to empower the state to take over low-performing schools, limit teacher collective bargaining, and increase teacher evaluations while expanding publicly funded private education.

Bennett's school-choice zeal led to a spot of controversy when his wife earlier this year resigned as a consultant to the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association, which stood to benefit from her husband's reforms, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Bennett, an elected official, would seem a perfect fit for Scott. He's a fellow union-criticizing Republican who doesn't blink from pushing conservative policies. Scott already snagged one former Indiana official, prisons secretary Ed Buss.

But there's an apparent difference of style between Bennett and Scott, who goes to great lengths to address hand-selected Republican crowds and seldom strays from his written speeches and talking points. Bennett knows what it's like to be picketed by unions. But he seems to have far fewer reservations of going into the lion's den and talking straight.

Consider his trip to Goshen, where he looked critics in the eye and sounded far less like Scott and a lot more like former Gov. Jeb Bush, who's sure to love him.

"Many of you walked in the door this evening, and I am 100 percent certain, some of you were absolutely certain in your heart that the person that was going to stand in front of you and talk was the person that you were certain was out to destroy public education," Bennett said, according to the Goshen News. "You know what? I will likely not say anything that will change that opinion tonight."

With talk like that, it raises the questions: What will it take Scott to get him here, when will he start and when will the unions go ballistic?