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House Speaker Richard Corcoran Tapped For Florida Education Commissioner

Richard Corcoran

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced he'll nominate outgoing Florida House speaker Richard Corcoran as the state's next education commissioner.

The nomination of the Land O'Lakes Republican is no surprise - the possibility has been talked about for weeks, and his fervent backing of expanding charter schools in the state has already drawn the ire of the state’s teachers union and some Democrats.

Corcoran's wife, Anne, founded Classical Preparatory School, a charter school in Pasco County.

“I am proud to recommend Richard Corcoran for Florida Education Commissioner and know that he will put his experience and passion for the success of Florida’s students to work in this new role,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

“Richard is known as a no-nonsense reformer whose sole focus has been how best to support students, parents and teachers. This issue is very personal to me. Casey and I believe that the future of our children and the future of all Florida’s children depend on our education system. I know Richard will never stop fighting until every child in Florida has access to a world-class education.”

The way was paved for Corcoran when current Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced her resignation, effective  Jan. 8.

The decision, announced in a letter to state Board of Education members, marks a reversal from late October when Stewart reached agreement with the board to remain for another year.

Outgoing Education Commissioner Pam Stewart

“It is with bittersweet feelings that I submit my letter of resignation,” Stewart wrote.

Stewart, who has been commissioner since 2013, said she originally agreed to stay for another year in order to promote “a promising path to continuing achievement for our students” and to provide an orderly transition with the new governor.

“While those may have taken up to a year, in light of recent election results and announcements, it seems we have the capacity for both of these goals now,” she wrote. “Therefore, I am returning to my original plan of retiring effective Jan. 8.”

Stewart’s retirement marks the end of a 39-year career as an educator, where she served as a teacher, principal and administrator. She took the job in 2013, after her predecessor, Tony Bennett, resigned because of fallout from a political scandal in his home of Indiana.

Even though DeSantis made the nomination, it's up to the state Board of Education to name a new commissioner.

DeSantis also announced that Representative Jared Moskowitz - a Democrat - will serve as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“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 in a prepared statement.

“Florida has a long history of being a model for the nation in emergency preparedness and response, and with Jared at the helm, I am confident this legacy will continue. Floridians will be well served with Jared Moskowitz leading this vital agency.”

Moskowitz currently represents Coral Springs in Broward County in the Florida House of Representatives, He was instrumental in the passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which was signed into law last year.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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