The Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers union, issued a statement after the board’s decision, criticizing Bennett’s appointment. The statement said union leaders were “disappointed and disheartened” by his selection.
Bennett came under harsh criticism from the teachers’ unions in Indiana which accused him of unfairly criticizing teachers and undermining teacher morale.
Ritz, in her successful campaign against Bennett, accused him of aggressively implementing changes in K-12 schools that weren’t intended by lawmakers. But he was praised by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who championed the reforms that Bennett oversaw. Bennett also won support from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Florida state board member Kathleen Shanahan told the Orlando Sentinel that she liked that Bennett had worked in public schools and had “real time, real recent” experience running a state system. The newspaper reported that Bennett will likely start work in mid-January, after his term in Indiana ends.
According to the newspaper, Bennett’s predecessor was making $275,000 when he resigned in July. Bennett’s salary in Indiana was $85,000 a year.