Wakulla Superintendent Bobby Pearce seemed to have some harsh words for Florida’s top education officials this week. WFSU has since reached out to Pearce to get clarification on what he meant.
On Tuesday night Pearce was addressing the two-member Wakulla County delegation, made up of North Florida legislators Senator Bill Montford and Representative Jason Shoaf, when the superintendent said this:
“Part of the Governor’s cabinet, that watches education in Florida – if you’ve been keeping up with the headlines lately, we’ve had some interesting comments being made out of that office,” Pearce said. “And I believe at some point, the only way we’re going to have any power over that is for the legislature to put their hand down and say, we’re not letting this continue.”
Pearce didn’t get specific on Tuesday about what state official he was referring to. Former Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran now heads the Department of Education, but isn’t in the governor’s cabinet. The post was formerly a cabinet position, but that ended in the early 2000s.
As Pearce continued with his comments Tuesday, he indicated they pertain to school safety.
“Once again, anyone that would suggest that we allow a school that is accountable under the law to have a school safety officer there – they would suggest in a letter that might not be necessary? I’m concerned,” Pearce said.
A day after delivering those comments, Pearce still wouldn’t name any names – but says his remarks were all about accountability for charter schools.
“What we would want to make sure that our legislative body is looking at is, are we holding all people, all entities that are accessing public tax dollars for education purposes, are they being held accountable at the same or equitable level? Whether it be traditional PreK-12, whether it be charters, or whether it be private schools,” the superintendent explained.
Pearce followed that up with a statement putting his criticisms closer to Corcoran.
“We had the incident down in Broward, where the Broward County school district had to shut down a charter school that failed to comply,” Pearce said, referencing a Broward school that had its charter revoked for not having any properly credentialed school resource officers:
“And apparently there was some question over whether or not they were going to be held to the same level of accountability on the highest level on the executive side, which is in the Department of Education.”
Pearce remains adamant that he is not anti-choice, and embraces it as a concept.