Former Brevard Superintendent Blackburn on DeSantis' education transition team – Florida Today

Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis announced his 41-person transition team, and among them is former Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Desmond Blackburn. 

Blackburn resigned from the school district in August after three years to take the CEO job at the national nonprofit New Teacher Center, which provides support for first-year teachers. Brevard Public Schools was ranked an “A” district by the Florida Department of Education two years in a row under his leadership. 

Earlier this year, Blackburn was also recognized by former Gov. Rick Scott and appointed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to help analyze the shooting and develop system improvements.

DeSantis’ team will help him develop a plan for his education policy. The team includes leaders from traditional public schools and charter schools, colleges and universities, and advocacy groups. 

Other notable choices include Step Up for Students founder John Kirtley and Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage, whose organizations align with DeSantis’ campaign promise to expand school choice options. Step Up for Students is the state’s largest administer of tax credit vouchers. 

More: Brevard School Board Chair to lead Florida Coalition of School Board Members

Here is the full list of team members:

Elizabeth M. Bejar, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Florida International University
Desmond Blackburn, CEO, New Teacher Center
Emily Bouck, Policy & Advocacy Director, Higher Learning Advocates
Bob Cortes, Former Representative, Florida House of Representatives
Brenda Dickinson, President, Home Education Foundation
Erika Donalds, Former Board Member, Collier County School Board
Aubrey Edge, President & CEO, First Coast Energy
T. Willard Fair, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
Angela Garcia Falconetti, President, Polk State College
Alvin S. Felzenberg, Presidential Historian & Lecturer, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Bruce Ferguson, President & CEO, CareerSource Northeast Florida
Keith Flaugh, Managing Director, Florida Citizens Alliance
Don Gaetz, Former President, Florida Senate
Robert Haag, President & CEO, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
Jonathan Hage, CEO, Charter Schools USA
Greg Haile, President, Broward College
Bill Heavener, Chairman, University of Florida Board of Trustees
Warren Hudson, President, Lake Highland Preparatory School
Russell Hughes, Superintendent, Walton County School District
Allan I. Jacob, Chairman & Chief Medical Officer, Physicians Dialysis
Mimi Jankovits, Executive Director, Teach Florida
John Kirtley, Founder and Chairman, Step Up for Students
Eugene Lamb, Board of Trustees, Tallahassee Community College
Craig Mateer, Founder & CEO, Bags, Inc.
Kim McDougal, Former Chief of Staff, Governor Rick Scott and Education Policy Expert
Edward Meadows, President, Pensacola State College
Connie Milto, Chief Government Relations Officer, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Keli Mondello, Co-Founder & Board Chairman, LiFT Academy
Steve Moore, President, The Vestcor Companies, Inc.
Ed Moore, President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida
Lubby Navarro, School Board Member, Miami-Dade County
Lynn Norman-Teck, Executive Director, Florida Charter School Alliance
Madeline Pumariega, Former Chancellor, Florida College System
Randle Richardson, CEO, Accelerated Learning Solutions
Lyn Stanfield, Strategic Relations Manager, Apple
Rev. Rick Stevens, Managing Director, Florida Citizens Alliance
John Thrasher, President, Florida State University
Andy Tuck, Vice Chairman, Florida State Board of Education
Fernando Zulueta, President, Academica Corporation

The announcement comes amid speculation into whether the state board of education will accept DeSantis’ recommendation for education commissioner, former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Former Commissioner Pam Stewart stepped down last week. 

DeSantis’ choice of commissioner has sparked backlash from teachers unions, including the Brevard Federation of Teachers, pointing to Corcoran’s involvement in what they call “anti-public education” legislation, including the Schools of Hope program that provides incentives for charter schools to open near under-performing traditional public schools and tax credit scholarships that allow children to attend private and religious schools. 

Teachers unions are calling on the board of education to reject DeSantis’ recommendation and perform a nationwide search. 

Caroline Glenn is the Education Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact her at or 321-576-5933, and follow her on Twitter @bycarolineglenn and like “Education at Florida Today” on Facebook.

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