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He is totally unqualified and he hates public schools.
To be blunt, as the editorial is, he is a hack.
Let’s not beat around the political bush: Putting former House Speaker Richard Corcoran in charge of Florida education is like hiring Genghis Kahn to head the state Department of Corrections.
The charter school fox is heading for the Department of Education hen house and, for public schooling, that’s finger-lickin’ bad.
Corcoran is a coercer, a brawler and politician who rewards fealty while marking opponents for payback. Those who know him would say he’d be flattered by the description.
He came into politics through the back door. He ran for the House in 1998 in a district outside his own. He was dubbed a “carpetbagger” by the hometown newspaper. He lost.
But he became a rising star in the party machinery, and eventually became what many describe as a political “hitman” for Marco Rubio’s bid to gain House leadership in 2006. He was rewarded by being hired as Rubio’s chief of staff at $175,000 yearly salary — considerably more than his boss, who made $29,697 a year. The governor that year was paid around $130,000.
If this gives you pause in terms of state political priorities, go to the head of the class.
In 2007, Corcoran again ran for special election, this time in the Senate. He was again portrayed as a carpetbagger — and lost.
The third time was a charm, when Corcoran won a House seat in 2010.
Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has made his pick known. But, on paper, the decision is up to the board of education — all GOP appointees, who probably like their current status.
DeSantis has made no bones about wanting to see public education dismantled, though you heard little of that during the governor campaign.
For his part, Corcoran spearheaded the state’s ongoing effort at funding charter schools with taxpayer money. And, where that was not possible, bankrolling public schools with various funding schemes, including paying for any child who deems himself “bullied” in public school to attend a private school tuition-free — and where, we must assume, bullies do not exist.
Corcoran was also the weight behind efforts this year to dismantle elected school boards and put the oversight of schools under direct legislative control.
In a twist of irony, Corcoran included this line is his speech after being named Speaker: “The enemy is us. … Left to our own devices, all too often, we’ll choose self-interest.”
His wife ran a charter school at the time and has since sought to expand to other areas. But his dark political history aside, might we not expect to have a person with some history in education — whether public or charter school — to lead an agency tasked with educating 3 million kids?
DeSantis has given Education Commissioner Pam Stewart her walking papers, though she has a year left on her contract. She takes with her 40-plus years of experience in education, including guidance counselor, teacher and principal at both elementary and high school levels. She was Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality at the Department of Education and Deputy Superintendent for Academic Services here in St. Johns County, just prior to taking over as Education Commissioner — following a series of embarrassments by political appointees to that post.
She has been controversial. But juggling the hot potato tossed to her called Common Core was an unenviable trick to pull off.
Now a hack takes her place. And with one swift move, the Legislature accomplishes Job No. 1. That’s putting Florida’s $20.4 billion education budget out to bid in the private sector. That’s a frightening amount of political capital to be spread around to those who decide who gets charter school contracts and where those schools will be.
There ought to be a law…