Both Rick Scott and Tony Bennett have learned not to take on a room full of teachers by themselves. So when time came for yesterday’s roundtable discussion both were there to respond to 40 state teachers of the year. James Call of the Florida Current provides this comment from Bennett:
“The implication of Common Core will be one of the largest policy implications lifts the states have engaged in the history of education,” Bennett said during the talk with about 40 teachers. “In the very near short-term we’re going to have to make some decisions about what will be the assessment regimen for Common Core — if you were going to ask me what is item No. 1 for the next 30 to 60 days, that’s item No. 1.”
Bennett can’t bring himself to say “tests” and weaseled out with a wonkish “assessment regimen.” You can be sure every teacher in the room knew Bennett meant “high-stakes tests.”
At least Bennett was honest enough to indicate that tests have to be created to match Common Core. Current talking points are focused on mischaracterizing opposition while defending Common Core by not telling the whole story. Take Ed H. Moore’s opinion piece as an example. Moore is president and CEO of the Independent Colleges and Universities. of Florida and writes:
It is time to “Raise the bar!” I keep frequently seeing commentary from pundits that questions the need for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and from some, the specter of federal government intrusion into educational matters.
I am not really clear on their thought processes since the arguments they put forth tend to be more anti-government in nature rather than based in the realities of educational standards. Frankly, the U.S. is losing the educational race and the new standards are designed to get us back on track — by setting base levels of knowledge that every student should learn, know and retain.
Common assessments and curriculum afford educators and policymakers the opportunity to compare. The curriculum is not being prescribed — the bar for knowledge is just being set. On a national level, tests such as the SAT and ACT are very useful in comparing high school juniors and seniors, but what about our nation’s younger students? While many states have tests and curriculum specifically designed for their students, the educators, parents and lawmakers of our nation have yet to collaborate in the creation of a national standard, until now. CCSS has allowed the states to come together to set a new bar of achievement for all students.
Both Moore and Bennett completely leave out any mention of Florida’s multiple accountability systems which will rely on Bennett’s “assessment regimen” or Moore’s “common assessments.” This is the equivalent to ignoring the 800 pound bear in the room.
There are troubling mechanisms within Florida’s school grade formula and its teacher evaluation system. The policymakers who crafted the legislation intended for them to be there. Schools can be closed or converted to charter schools and teachers can be fired for low test scores. Guys like Bennett and Moore don’t want Floridians to consider this along with their Common Core agenda.