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Florida education commissioner gives his department an A for its legislative successes

Priority bills that didn’t get through will return next session, Richard Corcoran says.
CHRIS URSO | Times Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran made a stop at Tampa Bay Christian Academy in April to urge lawmakers to pass his voucher plan. That bill has already become law. Some of the governor's education priorities remain undone.
Published May 23

Calling the recently wrapped Florida legislative session “amazing,” education commissioner Richard Corcoran said his team earned a top grade for achieving its goals.

“We pretty much got 93 percent of the legislative agenda,” Corcoran told the State Board of Education during its meeting Wednesday in Tampa.

He included among those successes bills — now laws — creating new school vouchers and increasing school safety and security measures.

Chief of staff Alex Kelly reviewed “all the victories” for the board, and then turned to the remaining few.

“What’s the 7 percent?” Kelly asked rhetorically.

Then he listed the four bills that Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted passed that didn’t get through the process. They were:

• HB 1127/SB 1444, creation of a “do not hire” list for educators. The department describes the measure as one intended to empower the state to “more effectively ban rogue, fraudulent and dangerous school operators and personnel from working in our schools and endangering our students.”

• HB 189/SB 1342, to expand high school student access to dual enrollment and early college courses.

• HB 1193/SB 1594, revamping prekindergarten accountability measures — something DeSantis has now asked the department to begin preparing.

• HB 1197/SB 1668, allowing colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, in addition to school districts, which currently have sole authorization power.

Kelly and Corcoran said they anticipated each of these proposals to return for the 2020 session, as part of the administration’s next set of education policy priorities. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin in September.

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