Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

William March: Cruz files legislation for return to elected education commissioner

Since 2003, Florida’s education commissioner has been appointed by the state Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor.
Newly-elected state Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa has filed legislation for a referendum to return to an elected state education commissioner. 
OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2018)
Newly-elected state Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa has filed legislation for a referendum to return to an elected state education commissioner. OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2018)
Published Jan. 30, 2019

Angry over underfunding of Florida public schools, newly elected state Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa has filed legislation for a referendum to return to an elected state education commissioner.

Once an elected member of the state Cabinet, since 2003 Florida's education commissioner has been appointed by the state Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor.

Cruz, a Democrat, narrowly unseated Republican Sen. Dana Young in November in a hard-fought race in which she campaigned heavily on what she called inadequate legislative support for public education.

She said that resulted partly from diversion of money from traditional public schools to charter schools and private school tuition vouchers.
But at the suggestion of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a voucher advocate, the state Board recently appointed as commissioner former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, also an aggressive advocate of expanding charter schools and vouchers.

Cruz's bill would put the question of returning to an elected commissioner on the 2020 referendum ballot. If it passed with 60 percent of the vote, it would take effect in the 2022 election.

Cruz said her move isn't aimed at Corcoran, noting that he wouldn't be immediately affected.

But, she said, "I believe I won my race based on being a champion for what public school parents are asking for, and they're frustrated that Tallahassee is not listening. Let's take this to the people."

Cruz acknowledged her resolution is unlikely to pass the GOP-dominated Legislature.

"Hope springs eternal," she said.

Cruz, who also campaigned about lead found in drinking water at some aging public schools, is also a co-sponsor of another bill to require older schools to put filters on water fountains.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge