Cor­co­ran picked as ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial

DeSan­tis also chooses Demo­crat Moskowitz for emer­gency post

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Gray Rohrer

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.


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