Former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who was recommended by Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis to lead the state’s public education system, was appointed as the state’s next education commissioner. The Florida Board of Education named Corcoran at a meeting Monday.
Corcoran told the board that Florida’s education system continues to improve and says the changes made by the state’s public school’s are extraordinary..
“You meet with leaders, educators from the other 49 states and as soon as you tell them you’re from the state of Florida, the first thing they say is ‘oh my gosh you’re from Florida we’re trying to emulate your AP program we’re trying to do this with what you did with choice,” Corcoran told the board. “We are the model and leader nationwide. It’s an outstanding series of results.
Under Corcoran, the Florida K-12 public school system will likely continue to change, especially in the area of school choice. During his two years as speaker between 2016 and 2018, Corcoran made education reform a centerpiece of his administration.
“What we know is, by 2030, 2.8 million students are going to work their way through the system,” Corcoran said. “And it’s our job to make them those great citizens, those great minds, those great life-long learners, and that’s a challenge”
He is a big supporter of school choice programs and made charter schools a priority during his two years as speaker.
He spearheaded the push in 2017 to pass “Schools of Hope” which allows for the creation of more charter schools, which he argues would give parents and students an opportunity to transfer out of failing public schools. The controversial law was challenged in the courts by 13 local school boards. The lawsuit was dismissed by a circuit judge earlier this year.
As speaker, Corcoran also made a name for himself by targeting government waste and promoting accountability and transparency in state agencies. That was especially true with Visit Florida which he singled out for its secretive deals and operations in marketing the state’s tourism industry.
Corcoran said he was “going home” to Land O’ Lakes when he announced in May he would not run for governor and would, instead, endorse Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary.
Then speculation began in early December about the possibility that Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis would recommend Corcoran to serve as commissioner. DeSantis made it official on Dec. 6 that he’d recommend Corcoran to Florida’s State Board of Education to serve as the next Florida Education Commissioner.
Corcoran succeeds Pam Stewart, who last month agreed to stick around for another full year as commissioner. But earlier this month, Stewart announced she’ll leave her post January 8, Inauguration Day, clearing the way for Corcoran to lead Florida’s K-12 system.