Sun Sentinel reporter Anthony Man was in attendance when Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett made a speech to Broward Workshop’s State of Our County forum on April 12. Bennett focused his speech on the sudden and unexpected debate that’s emerged on Common Core Standards.
“I would like to start my comments today around common core. I want to start by saying I acknowledge there are people on both sides of this issue.
“Let’s be very blunt about it. There are people on both sides of this issue. There are people who fear common core, and there are those like myself and [Broward School Superintendent] Bob [Runcie] who embrace common core…
“I acknowledge that there are differences. I am going to very simply say that if you want to know whether this debate should be over or not, whether common core is good or not, watch the Master’s [golf tournament].
“Don’t watch the golf. Watch the ads that our nation’s leading companies are running in between golf shots. Watch the ads that Exxon-Mobil is running. One of our nation’s largest employers, arguably one of the most profitable businesses in the world is running and saying we are going to hire on these standards
Bennett has been signaling that he bases his argument on what major corporations are telling him. It’s confusing what knowledge corporate executives bring to the table. As we don’t actually hear from the executives, perhaps it’s that Bennett presumes to be doing the talking for them?
More from Bennett:
“These standards were state driven. I am a firm believer in the Constitution of the United States and I believe it is the responsibility of states to educate children. And these standards were state driven by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers…. It’s very much in the federalist system of education that says states must educate their children. And I was a proud participant in the development of common core….
“I believe we now have a set of standards that do the most important thing in education. And that is they honor local control and promote creativity and problem solving in the classrooms….
The RNC and a Florida Tea Party would take issue with this. Consider this from the RNC’s resolution of CCS:
WHEREAS, the NGA (National Governor’s Association) and the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers – of which Bennett led) received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS, and
WHEREAS, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2.), the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president’s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them, and
WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS ‘assessments’
Hardly stuff that can be claimed as “state-driven” od something you’d expect to hear from a “firm believer in the Constitution of the United States.” But someone who is sure to be a firm believer in the Constitution, Florida Tea Party leader Patricia Sullivan offered this in response to Bennett’s claim that CCSS are “driven by state leaders and school chiefs.”
I do disagree. I don’t believe that it will give local government more flexibility when you’re taking it out of their hands and the direction is coming from a bureau out of Washington DC.
And I think it was disingenuous to say that states have played a pivotal role in this, because as we just heard in the rally, those who were speaking on behalf of the states were not elected officials. We did not know who they were, but they were appointed.
So I think it’s disingenuous to say that it was a state led effort.
What Bennett left out of his speech speaks volumes. While both the RNC resolution and Sullivan mention as a negative that CCSS includes federally mandated standardized testing, Bennett makes no mention of them, PARCC tests or even accountability. He knows that testing is toxic in Florida and it’s inclusion in his glowing words about CCSS would fall on deaf ears.