There’s a nifty little site I can calculate the number of days it has been since my last post – 116 to be exact. More on my sabbatical later. But it seems ironic now that my last post on August 15th was It’s Begun: Florida County’s Republican Assembly Officially Demands Explanations on Common Core.
While some Washington republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio and the Republican National Committee have taken stands against Common Core, the state republican apparatus is far more invested in them – much more, in fact, than most other red states. The purse strings controlled by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Council of 100 and Jeb Bush demand rigid compliance
My, oh, my, we’ve come quite a ways haven’t we? And pushback is increasing. State school board members and superintendents have joined the effort. Writes Anastasia Dawson in the Tampa Tribune:
TAMPA — School board members and superintendents from across Florida are hoping to pump the brakes on implementing tougher math and language arts standards into classrooms next school year.
Leaders from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and the Florida School Board Association voted Thursday to lobby state legislators for a three-year extension before the Common Core State Standards have to be fully implemented into every classroom. The new standards, which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are supposed to be in place by next school year. They rely heavily on new technology and have higher expectations for students after each grade level.
The educators who are meeting this week heard Thursday about how to take the next steps with Common Core, which, among other changes, expects third-graders to read at a fifth-grade level and fifth-graders at an eighth-grade level. Kindergarten, first-graders and second-graders already have been exposed to Common Core instruction as it slowly has been introduced into classrooms during the past few years.
“We’ve been following this for years and are ready to go,” Polk County School Board member Hunt Berryman said. “I think the only concerns we have now are with the testing, but that may be a bit overblown and it’s a bit too late to back out. … There’s a lot of fear and anxiety about launching right now because this is something completely new.”
Many concerns about how to evaluate students were answered in November when Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced that students this year would not be required to take the tech-heavy, Common Core-aligned standardized test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Gov. Rick Scott favors creating a “Florida model” of standardized testing.
Those of us in the trenches who have been fighting against the agenda of the package of reforms that includes Common Core have welcomed conservative support, but find their outrage incomplete. Their concerns over federal control are only a small part of the problem. My friend Anthony Cody puts it succinctly last month when he detailed Common Core’s Ten Colossal Failures. This one in particular ascribes to what Florida is experiencing now:
Error #5: The Common Core was designed to be implemented through an expanding regime of high-stakes tests, which will consume an unhealthy amount of time and money.
Common Core’s advocates don’t want you to know about the massive testing regime that must be implemented to its needs to be supported. Florida Council of 100 chair Marshall Criser III makes no mention of it all in an opinion piece he penned last month for the Miami Herald. He also misrepresented the creation of Common Core Standards with this whopper:
They were designed by a diverse group of teachers, researchers and education experts, based on the best available research and the highest standards in Florida and other states and around the world — and taking into account employer needs
At the state level in the past, the process to develop standards has been a public one, led by committees of educators and content experts, who shared their drafts, invited reviews by teachers, and encouraged teachers to try out the new standards with real children in real classrooms, considered the feedback, made alterations where necessary, and held public hearings before final adoption.
The Common Core had a very different origin. When I first learned of the process to write new national standards underway in 2009, it was a challenge to figure out who was doing the writing. I eventually learned that a “confidential” process was under way, involving 27 people on two Work Groups, including a significant number from the testing industry. Here are the affiliations of those 27: ACT (6), the College Board (6), Achieve Inc. (8), Student Achievement Partners (2), America’s Choice (2). Only three participants were outside of these five organizations. ONLY ONE classroom teacher WAS involved—on the committee to review the math standards.
This committee was expanded the next year, and additional educators were added to the process. But the process to write the standards remained secret, with few opportunities for input from parents, students and educators. No experts in language acquisition or special education were involved, and no effort was made to see how the standards worked in practice, or whether they were realistic and attainable.
Criser must feel that all those members of the testing industry are education “researchers and experts.” Not a good start for the man who will be Florida’s next state university system chancellor. Floridians don’t need an ideological spin master in that position. At any rate, Common Core’s chickens are coming home to roost in Florida. One wonders what might have been if education reform efforts hadn’t started and ended with Common Core. Perhaps it’s because nobody could make money that way.