September 26, 2022

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It's Your Education

State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. picked for education commissioner

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist K-8 school in Miami Gardens, in 2019.

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy, a Seventh-working day Adventist K-8 university in Miami Gardens, in 2019.

dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday advised Hialeah state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., who has a extended heritage of supporting conservative training concerns, to guide the state’s Department of Education and learning.

Diaz, an ardent supporter of faculty decision, has assisted adjust the education landscape in Florida by championing laws that expands obtain to vouchers and charter universities. If verified by the Point out Board of Schooling, he is expected to keep on growing school option, and would oversee the implementation of many contentious training regulations passed this yr by the Republican-led Legislature.

DeSantis, who has created education a cornerstone of his political agenda, described Diaz as a lawmaker who has fought for “educational choice and preserving indoctrination out of our educational facilities.”

“Manny Diaz has carried out a good career in the Legislature on education problems ranging from trainer shell out to parental legal rights and preference,” DeSantis explained in a assertion. “I am self-assured that he will serve our point out perfectly as the commissioner of training.”

Recent Training Commissioner Richard Corcoran introduced in March that he planned to move down by the finish of April. When Corcoran pointed out Diaz as a feasible alternative, it induced a buzz in education circles. Now that DeSantis has made the formal advice, some Democrats have lifted worries about the upcoming of Florida’s education system.

“Sen. Diaz is anyone who has been a fervent leader in privatization of general public education,” claimed state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, just one of the Legislature’s most liberal customers. “I’m involved it’s likely to be far more of the similar partisan weaponization of training.”

Diaz declined to be interviewed by the Miami Herald. But in a ready statement, he claimed he was “excited to get to do the job continuing the mission of the governor to make Florida the training state.”

“It is an honor to be recommended by Governor DeSantis to serve as the education commissioner,” Diaz reported. “For my entire occupation I have labored to make improvements to the education and learning program to serve Florida’s college students, mother and father and instructors.”

Diaz’s departure from the condition Senate, wherever he has served because 2018, is probable to set off a political domino outcome in Miami-Dade’s Republican circles as new candidates arise to swap him.

The State Board of Instruction would have to approve the governor’s suggestion. The condition board did not perform a look for for Corcoran, whom DeSantis also encouraged in 2018. It did keep nationwide lookups that yielded Gerard Robinson and Tony Bennett through the Rick Scott administration.

Diaz most likely to oversee pivotal education and learning procedures

Diaz has led quite a few education and learning committees in the Florida Senate and Florida Residence. He has spearheaded legislation on several DeSantis legislative priorities, which include voucher expansions and the “individual freedoms” monthly bill that promotions with the teaching of race concerns.

If confirmed, Diaz would lead the implementation of a laundry list of new insurance policies that are crucial sections of DeSantis’ schooling agenda. He will oversee the implementation of a new development checking test method for general public university pupils named the Florida Evaluation of University student Wondering, or Quick. It replaces the Florida Statewide Evaluation exams for K-12 pupils.

He will also have a say on the approach of the newly signed point out law “Parental Legal rights in Schooling,” dubbed by critics as the “don’t say gay” law, which prohibits teachers from top classes on gender id or sexual orientation in K-3rd grades and bans classes for more mature students that are not “age appropriate or developmentally proper.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, mentioned in a assertion he was supportive of Diaz’s appointment, contacting it “tremendous.”

“The Senate’s loss would surely be Florida’s acquire with Senator Diaz as our commissioner of instruction,” Simpson claimed. “I am self-assured Sen. Diaz is the correct leader as we carry on to employ historic faculty choice initiatives that will maximize competitiveness in our community school method.”

Madeline Pumariega, president of Miami Dade University and Diaz’s buddy, pointed out in a statement that Diaz would be “the initial Hispanic in the position” and applauded the advice.

“Senator Manny Diaz has been an advocate for students and education in Florida through his entire community company vocation. He has been a steadfast winner of our local community, instructional establishments and our learners,” Pumariega reported, introducing Diaz “will be a good commissioner.”

Citrus County educational institutions Superintendent Sam Himmel, president of the state superintendents association, said it appeared DeSantis has faith in Diaz, with whom she had no doing the job relationship.

“I would totally assume the board to have a dialogue and do their very own investigation … after they get the advice despatched to them,” Himmel explained.

Previous educator in Miami-Dade

Diaz is a top administrator at Doral College or university, a private college or university affiliated with Academica, a Miami-based for-income corporation that supplies administrative solutions to constitution educational institutions. He has held that put up since 2013.

Doral College or university was developed in 2010 to provide advanced courses at charter faculties, like Somerset Academy universities. Somerset Academy Inc. came beneath scrutiny before this calendar year as it was coming off a five-year arrangement that set the having difficulties Jefferson County school program beneath its manage. The arrangement was the very first and only time Florida has had an all-charter college district.

Somerset’s deal was established to expire June 30, and it opted from extending the deal. The district is nevertheless facing “extreme turnover of educational staff” and “extremely very low proficiency” in math and looking through among the vast majority of students, in accordance to the company’s own evaluation.

At the identical time, the point out Department of Training was uncovered to have attempted to steer the multimillion-greenback agreement to a politically linked business whose CEO experienced ties to Corcoran.

When asked about the scenario in January, Diaz instructed a WFSU reporter that the charter university experiment’s results had other components at participate in. “Number a person, geographically it [Jefferson] actually is significantly absent and it is tough,” he stated. Jefferson County is just east of Tallahassee and Leon County.

Diaz, whose political committee is identified as “Better Florida Schooling,” has been an advocate of university preference and constitution colleges throughout his time in the Legislature.

In January 2021, Diaz was accused by numerous previous students at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior Large of performing inappropriately about girls when he was a teacher, which include by generating comments on girls’ appearances and speaking to his pupils about accomplishing ecstasy at Miami clubs. At the time, Diaz denied the allegations and said the assaults ended up politically enthusiastic, “baseless and defamatory.”

Diaz taught social reports at Hialeah-Miami Lakes for 4 decades starting in 1995 and went on to come to be an assistant principal there for two many years.

The anticipated Diaz exit from the Florida Senate could have political ripple outcomes in community politics, also. Rep. Bryan Avila, a Republican ally of Diaz, is at this time functioning for Miami-Dade County Fee to thrive a phrase-constrained Rebeca Sosa in District 6. But the lawmaker may swap to try out and triumph Diaz in the Senate, opening up the race for a county seat the place Avila was the lone candidate until finally not long ago.

Avila did not quickly react to a ask for for remark from the Herald about his plans concerning Diaz’s possibly vacant Senate seat.

Considering that March, two candidates have filed for District 6: Dariel Fernandez, a Miami-Dade Republican Committee member and proprietor of a software organization, and Orlando Lamas, a Republican and an architect who was operating for Avila’s open Household seat ahead of switching to the District 6 race in March.

Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.

This story was initially released April 21, 2022 3:25 PM.