Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory spoke with Common Core’s opponents and she found out that they aren’t buying the FLOE spin:
TALLAHASSEE — The state education department tried to distance itself from the controversial Common Core State Standards last week by recommending changes to the benchmarks and giving them a new name.
“The proposed standards are truly our own,” Deputy Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen said during a Tuesday workshop on the freshly named “Florida Standards.”
But is Florida really moving away from the national benchmarks, which have drawn Tea Party ire in recent months? Or are the suggested revisions a matter of semantics?
“At their heart, the standards in Florida are still Common Core standards,” said Anne Hyslop, a policy analyst with New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program, noting that many of the proposed changes are minor.
Hyslop added: “The rebranding and messaging is largely political.”
McGrory’s rhetoric question which “suggested revisions (are) a matter of semantics” is spot on. The “largely political” exercise is an attempt to keep republicans on board by giving them “political cover” to explain their vote to a very skeptical base. Some republicans have unfortunately bought into the gambit.
“While the governor did not say that we are [formally] pulling out of Common Core or the federal mandates associated with them, he seems to have found a way to get around them,” Martin County Republican Committeeman Eric D. Miller wrote in an email to other Republicans last week. “I cannot express my enthusiasm strongly enough for these outcomes.”
But Randy Osborne, a political consultant and co-founder of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, was not satisfied.
“Let’s not just change the name,” Osborne said. “We must pull out of it completely, get out of the system.”
When it comes time for Debbie Mayfield’s bill (HB 25) to be heard in Florida House committees – the one that will halt Core – state representatives will begin hearing about Core’s developmental and pedagogical flaws. At the very least, they will begin to understand how much disagreement there is within the hands-on education community.
A compromise is out there, but it’s one neither side wants: A pause in full adoption combined with a pilot in three Florida districts – say Hillsborough, Okaloosa (my own where significant Core prep has been underway) and one rural county – with PARCC exams (Hillsborough has already committed to it). Perhaps more districts might want to be part of the pilot, but special attention demographics needs to be established.
There is currently no companion bill in the Florida senate. Don Gaetz, the senate’s president, is understood to be against any sort of pause in Florida’s education reforms. But Gaetz is on record with his own serious concerns about Florida’s accountability system, last year saying that “it was in danger of imploding.” While the battle over Common Core will be happening under the lights in the House, the man to watch will be Don Gaetz.