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Florida's acting Education Commissioner calls Indiana's Tony Bennett "focused, very driven"

As Florida searches for a new state superintendent, there is growing buzz about Indiana’s former commissioner, Tony Bennett. He lost his reelection bid to run Indiana’s schools last week and chairs Chiefs for Change, which is part of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation.

Last week, the vice chair of the state's Board of Education, Roberto Martinez, told the Tampa Bay Times that he hoped Bennett would apply.

On Tuesday, during a visit at a Miami-Dade elementary school, the state’s interim Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, told the Herald that she doesn’t know Bennett very well, but she feels she ought to get to know him better.

“I don’t know him real well, except for our work together on PARCC and some other initiatives,” Stewart said. (PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and is a group of states working to create a common set of K-12 tests in English and math.)

“He’s very focused, very driven and I think that serves, or has served, the state of Indiana very well. I think his skills are certainly transferrable and we’ll see what happens,” Stewart said.

In September, hoping to draw higher profile prospects, the state Board of Education extended the application deadline to Nov. 30. The board is slated to pick a new commissioner Dec. 12.