Governor-elect DeSantis is intent upon placing out-of-office politician Richard Corcoran as the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education. If allowed, this would be a most devastating blow to Public Education. Corcoran, with no resistance from the FL House, and surprising little challenge from the Senate, ran roughshod through Public Education last year, getting several extremely damaging Education related bills passed, including CS/HB 7069, which was intended to be the death blow not only to Public Ed, but specifically to Teacher Unions, by targeting the density of the employees they represent.
Former Senate leader Don Gaetz probably said it best when he stated that Corcoran could become “the most disruptive education reformer in our state’s history”. Last year, Corcoran advocated for and got the new charter school model “Schools of Hope”, which allows outside providers, often with no proven background, to set up schools in communities where district schools have failed – usually in impoverished areas where the lack of proper local education funding has prevented the proper support to be put in place. He also championed the “Best & Brightest” teacher bonus plan, based in part on teachers ACT or SAT scores from their high school years. This was put in place to “attract and retain” high quality teachers, even though it erodes local funding that could be negotiated through the districts and is absolutely no reflection on how an individual will turn out years later. He also promoted and got tax credit scholarships allowing bullied children to be funded to attend charter schools while not addressing the bully at all. It’s kind of like you being robbed in your home and then being offered money to move to a different neighborhood while not dealing with the robber.
The two million plus students, approximately 90%, in Florida’s Public schools, their parents, educators and the tax payers of this great state deserve better. We have a constitutional obligation to Public Education and need to fund the third largest public education system in the US appropriately. We need someone who understands the profession and is dedicated to restoring Florida to national prominence in education. It is evident by the recent rash of approved education related referendums passed that the voters support our schools, teachers and programs, and are willing to pay for this to happen. Surely, the person put in charge of this tremendous responsibility should be required to have experience in the profession? You wouldn’t take your broken-down vehicle to a butcher because he has a lot of good ideas on how to fix it, would you? Of course not. Neither should we settle for less when it comes to providing a quality education to our students – the future leaders of our state and nation.
Please contact the Governor-elect and the members of State Board of Education and tell them we need an educator to lead our DOE. We should not be in a hurry when it comes to the future of our children.
President, United School Employees of Pasco