Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, in the midst of a turbulent news cycle, was praised by a source extremely close to the White House this week.
Donald Trump Jr., the namesake son of the President, featured Florida’s current controversy about reopening schools in a longform op-ed for Fox News noticed Wednesday by an exultant Corcoran.
Trump Jr., Corcoran tweeted Wednesday, was “spot on” in his assessment of the situation, currently in limbo pending the decision of an appeals court after the first round went to the Florida Education Association.
Trump’s red-meat op-ed jibed with the commissioner’s politicized push to reopen brick and mortar schools throughout the state.
Corcoran’s order, wrote Trump, “empowers schools, districts, students and parents to work together at the most local level to make the decisions that are best suited to their circumstances and communities. It also recognizes the role of education and the fact that educators cannot abandon their obligations to our children if they want to collect taxpayer dollars.”
However, Trump noted, the order would not survive the first round of judicial review.
“Yet, right on cue, a liberal judge granted the state’s activist-led teachers’ union a temporary injunction of the order. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who is set to retire in January, decided to put the interests of union bosses ahead of the state’s constitution, in violation of the separation of powers and ahead of Florida’s children,” Trump wrote.
The lawsuit from the largest teachers’ union in the Sunshine State, challenges an edict from the commissioner that schools must reopen this month under plans approved by his office or run the risk of losing funding from the state.
Dodson on Monday found that Corcoran‘s order explicitly requires schools to reopen to receive funding. That “essentially ignored the requirement of school safety” and “arbitrarily prioritized reopening schools statewide in August over safety and the advice of health experts.”
Dodson’s ruling came as students continue to return to classrooms in districts throughout the state, after learning shifted online in March because of the pandemic. About 150,000 of the state’s 2.8 million schoolchildren had resumed face-to-face instruction as of last week, Jacob Oliva, the chancellor of the K-12 school system, told Dodson on Thursday. Several more districts began classes Monday.
Ahead of Dodson’s ruling, Corcoran said he was “100% confident” it would go his way, even suggesting that teachers who walk out could be “terminated.”
“It’s a frivolous lawsuit … It’s an absolutely frivolous case,” Corcoran said. “We’ve already opened up over a third of our districts. We have 65% of parents and students who have chosen to be face to face with their instructors.”
Meanwhile, Corcoran is “100% confident” the appeal will go his way.