Sorry, Charlie. You Need to Walk Back Your Common Core Position

To be fair, Charlie Crist got everything else right in his September editorial on education policy that appeared in the Tampa Bay Times . Except, that is, on Common Core. Writes Crist:

….Gov. Rick Scott needs to get off the fence and lead Florida’s embrace of the national Common Core Education Standards (CCSS). These standards have been adopted by 45 states and will allow our children to be equal to their peers nationally. Further, these standards — which cover language arts and math — are much more in depth than the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test and our own Sunshine State Standards. That is why as governor I supported the movement to Common Core.

Tea party and other outliers have called for a rejection of these standards because they were promulgated under the umbrella of a “national” effort. Truth be told, their opposition probably has less to do with education than the fact the standards, started under President George W. Bush, were finalized while President Barack Obama was in office.

This is a nonsensical reason to reject them. Scott needs to stand with Florida students and no one else. This is not a time for rank partisanship.

I completely agree with former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and bipartisan leaders across the country that the Common Core standards are simply better than what we have been relying on, and Florida students deserve the best.

Crist’s “outliers” actually include the RNC and major conservative think-tanks the later which directly speak to CCSS’s developmental flaws. Crist is writing as if it’s still 2009, he’s still Florida’s governor and everyone is on board with getting a Obama-Duncan Race to the Top grant. Sorry, Charlie. You need to live in the now.

We know a lot more about CCSS than we did when you were governor. It’s permanent federal control and solidification of high-stakes tests as the only standard of measurement that matters is not all that’s wrong. CCSS is bad for our children. The Heartland Institute is a  pro-school choice entity that’s  virulently anti-public school. Consider these observations from one of its scholars:

◾A Common Core teachers’ guide gives teachers a 29-page script for teaching ninth and 10th graders to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Strangely enough, it directs teachers to have students read the address strictly as a piece of isolated text without any shred of context, such as that President Lincoln was speaking at a funeral in Pennsylvania in the middle of the Civil War. That seems stupid, not rigorous.

◾The reverence for “informational text” shines through in the CCSS mandating nonfictional material (including workplace and governmental boilerplate) consume an increasing quantity of reading that might otherwise have been devoted to classic literature, leading to a 70 percent text quota by the high-school years. Technocrats egotistical enough to prescribe such a universal formula for student reading material obviously have little use for the humanities.

◾Speaking of formulas, the CCSS remarkably draws on the convoluted Lexile methodology that uses sentence length and vocabulary to score texts from least to most complex. In a withering critique in the October 29 issue of The New Republic, University of Iowa English prof. Blaine Greteman exposed numerous absurdities of such a rating system—for example, that Huckleberry Finn isn’t Lexile-complex enough for ninth-graders, but Sports Illustrated for Kids’ Awesome Athletes! is. Greteman concluded Lexile scoring “is the intellectual equivalent of the thermometer; perfect for cooking turkeys, but not for encouraging moral growth.”

◾As for Common Core math, even its lead writers have conceded these “college- and career-ready” standards, if followed strictly by participating states, would not prepare students for the truly rigorous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors in universities. Ending after Algebra II, with little trigonometry and no pre-calculus, CCSS basically is geared to the entry level of nonselective community colleges.

Or how about this from Dr. Andrew Seely, and education scholar with the Cardinal Newman Society:

Younger children… naturally learn by absorbing language and facts. They are not ready for critical thinking; they are ready to trustingly accept whatever is presented to them in an orderly, engaged manner. Learning by heart and careful observation are key powers to be developed, not just with facts and vocabulary, but with the beautiful rhythms and rich images of the best poetry and prose. The Common Core intends to make critical thinking, embodied in literary analysis, the focus of every grade level

The Common Core wants to educate for life; but it articulates life’s highest goals as career success and productive contribution to the global economy. Content must be drawn from a wide-range of cultures, leading students to be able to work well with the variety of cultural and personal viewpoints of their future corporate fellow laborers.

Many Florida public education advocates are in an alternate universe when they find themselves agreeing more with Rick Scott’s CCSS pause than Crist’s full-speed-ahead. Crist will have to come to realize that CCSS just cannot be rammed home into Florida’s current accountability system of which he was critical in his piece. It’s also clear he hasn’t been doing is homework on CCSS. Perhaps he is relying on his tenure as the state’s education commissioner as some for his knowledge base and is running around without an up-do-date education advisor.

It’s not 2009 anymore and it didn’t take much work to slam Scott’s education record. Anyone could have thrown that red meat. Crist blew it in his first shot at establishing his education bona fides. His disappointing position on CCSS gives Scott political cover to fully implement them – the worst possible scenario.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to Sorry, Charlie. You Need to Walk Back Your Common Core Position

  1. eatingon1 says:

    “other outliers have called for a rejection of these standards because they were promulgated” “This is not a time for rank partisanship” This is a different writer from the second half.And no one running for office should “completely agree” with any Bush. It is a kiss of death. Especially for a Democrat. But I will see his campaign contributors. Maybe all he had to do to get some cash was ‘write’ an op-ed. Then weather the fallout when he comes out then against Common Core? I just think politicians misunderstood what with their cigar filled backrooms this: the Mommies.

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