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LWV: The Governor Can't Dictate Who Our Next Education Commissioner Will Be

December 7, 2018 - 3:30pm
Patricia Brigham, Richard Corcoran and Marva Johnson
Patricia Brigham, Richard Corcoran and Marva Johnson

The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWV) is apparently unhappy with school choice-loving former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis' choice for education commissioner. 

The League on Friday called for a national search "to find the person who is best suited to oversee Florida’s system of public education."

In a letter to Chairwoman Marva Johnson and the State Board of Education, LWV President Patricia Brigham urged board members to invoke Article IX, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution, adopted in 1998 -- a provision Brigham says gives the Board of Education, not the governor, the responsibility to appoint a commissioner of education.

"Further," Brigham writes, "the Board of Education members’ terms of office were purposely staggered to ensure that as governors change, the Florida education system would be insulated from the disruption caused by political patronage appointments of a Commissioner of Education.

"At a minimum, Floridians expect you to carry out a due diligence process aimed at ensuring Florida’s students that an individual of the highest possible caliber oversees public education. We urge you to take this important duty seriously and not simply 'rubber stamp' a politically motivated choice."

The letter goes on to say this:

"Under our state’s current constitution, the Governor retains input to the process by filling vacancies which occur as Board Members terms expire, however, the Board must carry out its constitutional duty and make appointments based upon merit, not political patronage. While members of the Board may ultimately concur with the recommendation of the incoming Governor regarding who to appoint, the Board of Education should decline to opt for an expedient political patronage selection.

"In sum, the Board should be guided by the constitutional statement that imposes upon the State a “paramount duty” to make “adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” Included in such a paramount duty is the selection of the best person possible to lead the effort. Finding such a person mandates that the Board conduct a national search and not just grant perfunctory approval to a political patronage appointment.

"Florida’s children deserve nothing less."

Certainly, Corcoran is a lightning rod in education circles. In the 2017 he pushed through controversial legislation to allow the creation of charter schools, known as “schools of hope,” near struggling public schools. A year later he backed a bill that created “hope scholarships,” allowing bullied students to use publicly funded vouchers to transfer to private schools. The legislation also expanded vouchers for disabled students and those struggling with reading.

In spite of Brigham's letter, Chairwoman Johnson -- a member of DeSantis' education transition team, is amenable to the governor-elect's commissioner recommendation, according to the News Service of Florida. Johnson told NSF on Thursday, “(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 has an important supporter in former Gov. Jeb Bush, leader of Florida's education reform movement that pioneered vouchers for students from low-income homes.

Said Bush in a statement Thursday, “Richard is one of the state’s most experienced leaders and has long been a trailblazer in education reform.”

Corcoran, he said, “will fearlessly challenge the entrenched status quo” and “is a passionate advocate for expanding opportunity, especially for children most at risk.”

The Florida Education Association, meanwhile, the state’s largest teachers union and an opponent of Corcoran's education legislation, is pushing for a nationwide search.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.


I could think of no one less qualified to be Education Commissioner than tiny little Richard Corcoran, except maybe Betsy DeVos. Talk about a conflict of interest... what a crock of shit...

The name should be the League of Democrat Women Voters because they're tied at the hip. Charter schools have their place but we need to eliminate Common Core which Charlie Crist foisted on our state. (Between his screw-up vis a vis the Everglades and education here he is in congress doing more damage! ) We must restore traditional education in our public schools. We don't need "change agents" we need real teachers! Someone is always trying to fill his pockets at the expense of our children. We don't need computers to instruct we need the interaction of teachers and students and the help of parents!!

I assumed appointments were a perk of the office holder. You know like Nikki Fried appointing Fred Gutenberg .

Dems & their phony 'non-profit' surrogates cannot contain their bitterness about losing elections. They continue to act like the children they are with their pathetic tantrums. These continual immature actions are but one reason they continue to lose elections in Florida and remain ostracized by the majority of Floridians.

Well how superior!

First, look Florida at what is right as reflected in the law and Constitution, then look at what Hillary & Obama did or said, and then go in the opposite direction. You will then find that the opposite was correct and equal to the Constitution. According to recent records, there are 82 admitted Socialists Democrats in our Congress, plus there are many more than don't have the guts to say so. This record on , gives the names and their state locations. Are these the kind of Democrats we want running the lives of 330 million American's ? Why do American's sit back and let this trash do Obama's work for him? Obama never helped America, except to sell lots of guns to American's, and give away guns to Mexican's thru "Fast & Furious" ?

We need to look at the 501 status of LWV. They're using members' dues to file and lose lawsuits and dictate to the Governor. As well as misrepresent what he's intending to do, which is have the Board of Ed approve. What LWV is really angry about is the fact that he will be approved.

Totally agree! LWV has never liked a single conservative platform or position. The organization is as progressive and socialist as the actual progressive and socialist Democrat Party!!

I'm not happy with a for-profit charter school nutcase being the education commissioner, either. Besides - Corcoran has absolutely no formal training nor experience in the fields of education or education administration - so this is nothing more than the current tribal chief putting another tribal goober in a job he's not qualified for - other than being a member of the tribe.

Of course you voted blue. I can tell by your personal insults. You lost. Get over it.

But — we won the house.

But not in Florida!

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