Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani declared that Richard Corcoran has “no professional background in education” in a letter to the Florida Board of Education urging it to conduct a national search before picking Florida’s next Education Commissioner.

Corcoran, the pick by Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis for the job, is set to be considered by the Florida Board of Education at 10 a.m. Monday.

“With all due respect, Mr. Corcoran has no professional background in education beyond his intentional efforts to privatize our state’s public education system,” Eskamani stated in a letter sent to board members Monday.

She and other Democrats also sent out a social media appeal to constituents to convince Board Chair Marva Johnson and other board members to at least delay any decision until a national search could be conducted.

“He has spent his career demonizing teachers, building the state’s Republican Party, and privatizing schools to send funds to private charters like the one run by his spouse,” Eskamani charged in her letter. “He also supports the arming of our teachers, a risky policy option that has been rejected by local school boards across the state.”

The former Florida House Speaker, a lawyer, highlighted his legislative career by pushing through, in last-minute deals during a special session, the “Schools of Hope” plan in House Bill 7069, which Corcoran and conservative advocates of education reform hailed as a big step in the school choice movement. DeSantis’ pick of Corcoran won support from Republicans, conservatives and the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, which applauded his support for parents’ rights, school choice, fiscal accountability, and “solution-oriented partnerships”.

Democrats, the Florida Education Association, and many public schools advocates saw a transfer of $200 million from public to private and charter schools and an erosion of local school boards’ controls.

“I ask that you implement a due diligence process and national search for a qualified Education Commissioner, and not follow through with what is a ‘rubber stamp’ of a politically motivated and unqualified candidate,” Eskamani urged Johnson. “Like with any job, you want to hire the best candidate. Please, do not support the appointment of Richard Corcoran to be our next Education Commissioner. Our students deserve much better than this.”

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