Corcoran picked as education official
DeSantis also chooses Democrat Moskowitz for emergency post
TALLAHASSEE – Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis made two major hires to his incoming administration, tapping former House Speaker Richard Corcoran for Education commissioner and Jared Moskowitz, a Democratic state representative from South Florida, as director of the state’s emergency response agency.
“Richard is known as a nononsense reformer whose sole focus has been how best to support students, parents and teachers,” DeSantis said. “This issue is very personal to me. (My wife) Casey and I believe that the future of our children and the future of all Florida’s children depend on our education system.”
The Corcoran move is formally a recommendation to the state Board of Education, which will make the final decision on the hire, but it is presumed that the board – a seven-member panel appointed by the governor – will adopt DeSantis’ pick.
Marva Johnson, chair of the board and a transition team advisor to DeSantis, said Corcoran “has the knowledge and experience to ensure continued success at the Department of Education and to protect Florida’s legacy as a national leader in education.”
Corcoran is a Land O’Lakes attorney who was term-limited this year after serving eight years in the House, the last two as House Speaker and doesn’t have a background in education. His wife, Anne, however, is a founder of a
Pasco County charter school.
He has supported major school choice policies, such as a program allowing charter school companies to compete directly against failing traditional public schools and a new voucher program allowing bullied students to attend a school of their parents’ choice.
Those programs are opposed by teachers unions and some school administrators who argue they deprive traditional school systems of authority and operating funds.
“(Richard Corcoran) oversaw the passage of some of the most destructive education legislation in recent memory,” the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union posted on Twitter. “We owe it to our students to conduct a national search for a highly qualified education professional as commissioner of education. #StopCorcoran.”
Besides the policies Corcoran pushed, critics objected to his zeal for expanding voucher programs and making it easier for charter schools to operate. Upon taking over the House in 2016, he called the FEA’s lawsuit against a voucher program “downright evil.”
Pam Stewart resigned as education commissioner Tuesday, paving the way for Corcoran. She made $276,000 per year in the role.
Moskowitz is a Coral Springs Democrat who works as general counsel to AshBritt Environmental, a disaster management company that contracts for debris cleanup and other emergency response services after disasters.
“Representative Moskowitz will be a great leader for the future of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, preparing our state for situations that need rapid response and real-time execution in the face of crisis,” DeSantis said.
The current DEM director, Wes Maul, had already announced his resignation effective next month. Maul earned $141,000 in the position.
DeSantis will be sworn in as governor Jan. 8.