Governor Ron DeSantis Appeals to State Senator Manny Diaz for Florida Commissioner of Education – Action News Jax
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the resignation of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran at the end of the month, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday recommended Republican Senator Manny Diaz Jr. as Corcoran’s replacement.
Corcoran, a Republican former Speaker of the House, announced last month that he would “return to private life” when his resignation takes effect at the end of April. Corcoran was named commissioner in 2018 shortly before DeSantis took office.
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As commissioner, Corcoran was one of DeSantis’ key allies on contentious education issues. For example, Corcoran was instrumental in carrying out DeSantis directives to prevent school districts from enforcing mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent critical race theory in classrooms. .
Diaz also helped carry out DeSantis’ education program in the Senate.
“Manny Diaz has done excellent work in the Legislative Assembly on education issues ranging from teacher compensation to parental rights and choices. I am confident he will serve our state well as education commissioner,” DeSantis said in a statement announcing the recommendation.
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Diaz must be officially nominated by the State Board of Education, which is made up of DeSantis appointees. The board will meet April 29 at 11 a.m. at the State Capitol to consider Diaz’s nomination.
Diaz, a Republican from Hialeah, was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving in the House for six years. He has held positions such as Chair of the Senate Committee on Education and the Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.
Diaz also sponsored high-profile education bills, including two measures during the 2022 legislative session that were top priorities for DeSantis.
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One of these measures (HB 7) would restrict how race issues can be taught in schools and in workplace training.
Part of the Public Schools Bill, for example, seeks to prevent education that would cause students to feel “guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress” due to past actions of members. of the same race, sex or national origin. .
The bill was dubbed by DeSantis the “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act” or Stop WOKE Act. It was not officially sent to DeSantis for his signing.
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A press release from the governor’s office on DeSantis’ recommendation to Diaz touted the measure as “eliminating CRT (critical race theory) and reawakening training in Florida schools and businesses.”
Diaz is a former teacher who works as an administrator for Doral College, a private school that is part of Miami-based charter school company Academica.
“Throughout my career, I have worked to improve the education system to serve Florida students, parents, and teachers. I am excited to get to work to further the Governor’s mission to make Florida the State for Education,” Diaz said in a statement Thursday.
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A strong supporter of charter schools, Diaz was also a driving force behind the expansion of school voucher programs.
During the 2019 legislative session, Diaz sponsored a measure that was signed by DeSantis to create the Family Empowerment Scholarship Voucher Program. The program has significantly broadened the eligibility criteria for voucher recipients.
Diaz also spearheaded higher education legislation.
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DeSantis signed a Diaz-sponsored bill this week regarding higher education accreditation and the tenure review process for college professors.
The bill (SB 7044) will require colleges and universities to change accreditors at the end of each accreditation cycle, which can last up to 10 years. It also authorizes the Board of Governors of the State University System to pass regulations requiring university professors to undergo a “comprehensive postgraduate examination” every five years.
Opponents of the new law, including the United Faculty of Florida, have argued that individual schools already have processes for reviewing faculty tenure.
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Diaz would become Florida’s first Hispanic education commissioner, according to the Department of Education.
Corcoran has frequently clashed with teachers’ unions. But Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, appeared to express optimism Thursday that Diaz would take office.
“While we may not always agree, FEA looks forward to working with the new commissioner toward a common goal: to make our public schools the strongest in the country. To ensure every child gets the education they need, we need to address our massive shortage of teachers and staff,” Spar said in a tweet.
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