League of Women Voters of Florida: Not so fast on new FL Education Commissioner

The League of Women Voters of Florida is reminding the State Board of Education to do its job on selecting a new Education Commissioner.

Essentially, that means doing a national search for the best candidate rather than quickly choosing Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’s choice — former House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

“As members of the State Board of Education you not only have the opportunity, but a constitutional responsibility, to conduct a national search to find the person who is best suited to oversee Florida’s system of public education,” League president Patricia Brigham wrote in a letter Friday to State Board of Education chair Marva Johnson and other board members.

The letter also reminds the board that it has the responsibility to pick the new Education Commissioner — not the governor.

“At a minimum, Floridians expect you to carry out a due diligence process aimed at ensuring Florida’s students that an individual of the highest possible caliber oversees public education. We urge you to take this important duty seriously and not simply “rubber stamp” a politically motivated choice,” Brigham wrote.
DeSantis on Thursday recommended Corcoran for the job.
If approved, Corcoran would follow Pam Stewart, who has served since 2013. She announced earlier this week that she was stepping down and plans to retire.

Corcoran, 53, has been one of the most powerful House Speakers in decades and has represented influential Pasco County in the state Legislature. An attorney, he graduated from a small law school at Regent University, a private Christian university. He’s been a champion of nontraditional charter schools and voucher programs that allow kids to go to private schools.

He’s a passionate supporter of school choice – the idea that students shouldn’t have to go to the school in their particular neighborhood.

But not all educators, union officials, lawmakers and even families may have the same views as Corcoran. In Florida, traditional public schools have been pitted against public charter schools run by private groups.



Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.


  1. Diane, but how does one get this right when the Governor, the Board of Education and the nominee all have the same philosophy. I supported the board’s recommendation to lower the target for students with disabilities being proficient from 100 to 71% back in 2012, when I headed a coalition for students with learning differneces. When I addressed the board, I told them there was not a chance in hell of accomplishing the new goal — given what they were presently doing, without major changes — there were none, There has been no gain over the last 6 years, while charter schools and voucher programs flourish — open to how we can win this battle for students, parents, teachers and the State of Florida.


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