TALLAHASSEE — Newly elected state House Speaker Richard Corcoran
has asked the Florida Education Association to drop its lawsuit
against a voucher-like program that is accused of draining money that
would better be spent going to public schools.
Corcoran, a Republican from Land O'Lakes, called the suit "evil,"
according to a Nov. 23 Gainesville Sun article, and made additional
inflammatory remarks against the organization.
“Attorneys for the state and a group of parents asked the
Florida Supreme Court … to reject a lawsuit challenging a program
that helps pay for tens of thousands of children to attend private
schools,” the Sun article said.
Corcoran argued that the criticized programs are actually helping
students get better educations, and the lawsuit threatens more
options for underprivileged students.
“Most of them are minorities, and all of them are poor. ... It
is downright evil," he said.
Despite his criticism, the FEA is working on Supreme Court
“Opponents of the program have focused heavily on
a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that found unconstitutional a voucher
program championed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush,” the Sun article said.
“(Florida Attorney General Pam) Bondi's office and the intervenors
argued that the programs are different, with the Bush-era
‘Opportunity Scholarship Program’ involving direct payments from
the state to private schools.”
The union’s lawsuit argues that both programs have led to
improperly diverting money to private schools, which drains
much-needed finds from public schools.
A Nov. 27 Orlando Weekly article said that Corcoran further
attacked the FEA, saying the suit would harm the lives of 100,000
Corcoran later criticized the union's concept of fair treatment of
educational options as “completely false," the Weekly article
In contrast, the union law suit argues that funding is being
“The lawsuit argues that the program
drains money that otherwise would go to public schools and is
unconstitutional for the same reasons that the Florida Supreme Court
struck down a previous voucher scheme,” the Weekly article said.
Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, was taken aback by Corcoran’s
"It was aggressive," Cruz said in an
interview with the Weekly. "I didn't expect to hear any of that
today, and I didn't expect for teachers to be villainized. ... I
certainly don't think that teachers are evil. I think that teachers
are amazing, and I was disappointed to hear that."
leaders reinforced their support for the lawsuit in a statement.
union also released its own statement, staying firm on its efforts to
continue with the suit, but offering a forum for civil debate.
Florida Education Association firmly believes that people of opposing
views should always engage in civil debate on issues," FEA
President Joanne McCall said in a statement issued by the union. "We
would welcome the opportunity to discuss with Speaker Corcoran the
reasons FEA has engaged the court in the voucher program. We are here
when and if the speaker would like to hear from us."
new legislative session will start March 7.