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Corcoran Blasts Duval Superintendent Over Failing Schools

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has set his sights on Duval County Schools. The district has nearly a dozen chronically low-performing ones and at Wednesday’s state board of education meeting, Corcoran clashed the district’s new superintendent over how to improve them.

When Corcoran was the Speaker of the House, he made addressing low-performing schools a priority. So much so, he pushed a law that allows charter schools to set up hear failing and low-performing public schools. 

He helped create the "Schools of Hope Program" that offers charter schools that takover such schools additional funding, and he helped pass laws that made turning over district-run schools an option as part of the state's ongoing efforts to turnaround low-performers.  Duval County has nearly a dozen of them. Only two have an outside operator. Wednesday, Corcoran and Superintendent Diane Greene clashed over why the district has not turned to IDEA Academy—which operates under the School of Hope designation.

“I’m not asking you to go gamble with some school that’s been in your district and not succeeded, I’m asking you to go with someone who has succeeded with 60,000 kids identical to these," Corcoran told Greene while asking why she's not considered using the charter school turnaround option.

Greene pushed back, noting, "well, I am making a bold move," in her plan to close two schools. But it wasn't good enough for Corcoran who said the move was, "not good for the community. Those parents don’t want them closed."

Members of the State Board of Education are skeptical that Duval can turn around its troubled schools. Later, Corcoran called Greene’s testimony a “travesty of justice” and slammed her for refusing to meet with the Department of Education. Corcoran is raising the possibility of asking the legislture for more authority for the Department to takeover failing schools. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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