By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
December 5, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- In a surprise turn, Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart has announced her resignation despite having a year left in her contract.
Published reports say charter school advocate and former House Speaker Richard Corcoran may be on the shortlist for the position.
When Corcoran ended his campaign for governor in May, he suggested his career in public office was coming to an end.
“I said all along, you know I was going to run for governor or go home,” said Corcoran in May.
However, the political landscape has changed.
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who had her contract extended for a year when polling showed a Democrat leading in the governor's race, resigned this week.
Corcoran is now favored to become the state’s top education official.
“It's no secret that the new governor and the former Speaker Corcoran are both staunch advocates of school choice,” said Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association Andrea Messina.
Corcoran is known for championing new voucher programs for private schools and diverting local tax money to charter schools.
“All of this legislation goes directly to what he says are his values, which are disrupting our education program,” said Martin Powell, Chief of Staff of the Florida Education Association.
FEA also points to the fact Corcoran lacks experience in public education, unlike Stewart who worked as a teacher, principal and administrator for 40 years.
“He is a threat not only to traditional public school advocates and the teachers union, but to traditional schools,” said Powell.
In contrast, State Senator Bill Montford, who also heads the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, is optimistic about a Commissioner Corcoran.
“He's very bright, he's energetic and he knows how to get things done,” said Montford.
Stewart will officially step down on January 8, the same day Governor-elect Ron DeSantis will be sworn into office.
Corcoran was in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, attending a National Convention held by an education think tank established by former Governor Jeb Bush, another staunch advocate of school choice.