Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran Credit: screenshot from the Florida Channel.
At a public board meeting, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said he would encourage everyone “never to read” The Washington Post or The New York Times.
Those two storied newspapers — both launched in the 1800s — have won numerous Pulitzer Prizes over the years. But in a new era of “fake news” during the Trump administration, media outlets have been assailed by critics.
Corcoran’s disparaging remarks came during a State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, when Corcoran, a Republican and former state House Speaker, spent time to criticize the media over education coverage.
“You’re going to see reports from time to time…the reporting on this is just all off,” said Corcoran.
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association (FEA), said that Corcoran’s tendency to disparage the media falls in line with methods from Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump.
“This is a Trump tactic to malign the media,” said Spar. “It’s not how they should govern and it is not responsible for elected officials to do that.”
At the state board meeting, Corcoran mentioned, “You know, you’ll read of someone who was a teacher’s aide has died — had nothing to do with the school system. You know, contracted the virus from a brother, who was a first responder, way before school even opened — and had nothing to do with the school system. As tragic as it is, it’s important for people to know it wasn’t a school issue. But the headlines will say ‘teacher’s aide…’ you know, ‘dies,’ tragically — but it did not have to do with schools.”
Corcoran then went on to criticize national news organizations.
“Another article, The Washington Post — I would encourage everyone never to read that newspaper, or The New York Times for that matter — but the Washington Post wrote, because we were the first to aggressively open up schools, they wrote that 34% increase in pediatric cases once we opened up schools.”
He criticized the Washington Post for not fully conveying the context of Florida reopening its schools.
This isn’t the first time Corcoran criticized media coverage.
In July, Corcoran signed an emergency order stating that “upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students…”
At a July Board of Education meeting Corcoran complained that news sources covering the emergency order didn’t even read the order before writing about it.
The FEA is currently in a lawsuit with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Corcoran, and other officials on parts of the emergency order.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergency order raised concerns from some families and teachers that opening brick-and-mortar schools would not be safe for students and faculty.
Florida schools have been open for at least a month, and have offered virtual learning options for families who don’t want to send their children to a brick-and-mortar school.
Corcoran brought up the lawsuit during the Board of Education meeting, and he recently started referring to the FEA as the “Union Bosses.”
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