DeSantis names wide-ranging education transition committee

Members include representatives from public, private, charter, homeschool and several other education groups.
Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis greets supporters with his son Mason after voting on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Our Lady of the Sea Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) FLJAJ105
Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis greets supporters with his son Mason after voting on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Our Lady of the Sea Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) FLJAJ105
Published Dec. 6, 2018|Updated Dec. 6, 2018

While speculation swirls over who he wants to be Florida's next education commissioner, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced his 41-person team to develop a plan aimed at implementing his education goals.

The list includes a broad cross-section of the state's education advocacy groups, representing everything from district public schools to home schools. Some of the names are bound to alarm activists from the opposite side of the philosophical divide.

Among the participants are former Brevard County superintendent Desmond Blackburn, Step Up for Students founder John Kirtley, Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage, Florida Citizens Alliance director Keith Flaugh, Hillsborough County schools lobbyist Connie Milito, Pensacola State College president Edward Meadows, and former Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds.

Just as a reminder, Step Up for Students operates the state's largest tax credit scholarship program, and the Florida Citizens Alliance has led several efforts to remove textbooks from schools. Donalds led the Constitution Revision Commission effort to create a state charter school authorizer and set school board term limits.

The membership has a decidedly Republican tone to it, as you might expect from a newly elected Republican governor. Leading the effort will be Board of Education chairwoman Marva Johnson and University of Florida trustee Mori Hosseini, both Rick Scott appointees.

DeSantis said during his campaign he wanted to expand school choice options, increase funding directly to classrooms without increasing taxes, grow career and technical education programs, and dial back on the Common Core. He also called for reducing spending on bureaucracy, and returning the Constitution to the classroom.

This panel is supposed to focus on his "vision of ensuring that every student in Florida has the chance to get a world-class education and develop the skills they need to get a great job and pursue their dream."

Here's the full committee list:

Dr. ELIZABETH M. BÉJAR; Vice President for Academic Affairs, Florida International University
Dr. DESMOND BLACKBURN; CEO, New Teacher Center
EMILY BOUCK; Policy & Advocacy Director, Higher Learning Advocates
The Honorable BOB CORTES; Former Representative, Florida House of Representatives
BRENDA DICKINSON; President, Home Education Foundation
The Honorable ERIKA DONALDS; Former Board Member, Collier County School Board
AUBREY EDGE; President & CEO, First Coast Energy
T. WILLARD FAIR; President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
Dr. ANGELA GARCIA FALCONETTI; President, Polk State College
Dr. ALVIN S. FELZENBERG; Presidential Historian & Lecturer, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
BRUCE FERGUSON; President & CEO, CareerSource Northeast Florida
KEITH FLAUGH; Managing Director, Florida Citizens Alliance
The Honorable DON GAETZ; Former President, Florida Senate
ROBERT HAAG; President & CEO, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
GREG HAILE; President, Broward College
BILL HEAVENER; Chairman, University of Florida Board of Trustees
WARREN HUDSON; President, Lake Highland Preparatory School
RUSSELL HUGHES; Superintendent, Walton County School District
Dr. ALLAN I. JACOB; Chairman & Chief Medical Officer, Physicians Dialysis
MIMI JANKOVITS; Executive Director, Teach Florida
JOHN KIRTLEY; Founder and Chairman, Step Up for Students
EUGENE LAMB; Board of Trustees, Tallahassee Community College
CRAIG MATEER; Founder & CEO, Bags, Inc.
Dr. KIM MCDOUGAL; Former Chief of Staff, Governor Rick Scott and Education Policy Expert
Dr. EDWARD MEADOWS; President, Pensacola State College
CONNIE MILITO; Chief Government Relations Officer, Hillsborough County Public Schools
KELI MONDELLO; Co-Founder & Board Chairman, LiFT Academy
STEVE MOORE; President, The Vestcor Companies, Inc.
Dr. ED MOORE; President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida
The Honorable LUBBY NAVARRO; School Board Member, Miami-Dade County
LYNN NORMAN-TECK; Executive Director, Florida Charter School Alliance
Dr. MADELINE PUMARIEGA; Former Chancellor, Florida College System
RANDLE RICHARDSON; CEO, Accelerated Learning Solutions
LYN STANFIELD; Strategic Relations Manager, Apple
Rev. RICK STEVENS; Managing Director, Florida Citizens Alliance
The Honorable JOHN THRASHER; President, Florida State University
ANDY TUCK; Vice Chairman, Florida State Board of Education
FERNANDO ZULUETA; President, Academica Corporation

By way of comparison, here's the education transition team that Rick Scott named in 2010:

Michelle Rhee – Former Chancellor, Washington, DC Schools; Patricia Levesque – Executive Director, Foundation For Florida's Future; MaryEllen Elia – Superintendent, Hillsborough County Schools; Ed Moore – President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida; J. David Armstrong, Jr. – President, Broward College and Former Chancellor of Community Colleges of Florida; John Kirtley – Chairman, Step Up For Students; Liza McFadden – President, Volunteer USA Foundation; Frank T. Brogan – Chancellor, State University System of Florida; Dr. Fred Lippman – Chancellor, Health Professions Division – Nova Southeastern University; Dennis W. Bakke – President and CEO, Imagine Schools; Dr. Judy Genshaft – President, University of South Florida; Julio Fuentes – President, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Carlos Curbelo – Miami Dade School Board and State Director for Sen. LeMieux; Mindy Cunningham – Principal, J Strategies; Gary R. Chartrand – Executive Chairman, Acosta Sales & Marketing Company and Board of Directors, KIPP Schools Jacksonville, Florida; Dr. Don Pemberton – Director, Lastinger Center For Learning University of Florida; Mindy Lafevers-Hodge – World History Instructor, Florida Virtual Schools; Jonathan K. Hage – President and CEO, Charter Schools USA