Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott has selected Gerard Robinson, an administrator known for his innovative approach and his conservative connections, to be the state’s next education commissioner.
Robinson, who leaves the post of Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia and is African-American, is known for his support of finding alternative, and some would say conservative, ways to invigorate public schools, including using public money to fund private education.
Earlier in his educational career, for three years Robinson was the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). The organization’s goal is “to increase access to high-quality educational options for Black children by actively supporting parental choice policies and programs that empower low-income and working-class Black families.”
While in that post, Tallahassee.com said Robinson assisted in the creation of “charter schools, private-school scholarships and tax-credit scholarships in eight states, including Florida [tax-credit scholarships].”
BAEO had the support of the conservative DeVos Foundation and the Walton Foundation. Robinson is also a member of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s educational reform movement that wants to hold teachers to higher standards and raise the achievement bar in student testing.
Tallahassee.com reports that Robinson, 43, is in sync with Gov. Scott’s approach to education. The online version of the paper said that “Robinson is a strong advocate of everything that Scott and the legislative majority put their stamp on this session: improving teacher accountability, expanding school choice, promoting charter schools and using and embracing virtual learning. In summary, he's bought into the message that education is no longer dependent on structures of the past.”
Robinson’s selection puts another high-ranking African-American in Scott’s inner circle. His Lt. Gov. is Jennifer Carroll.