What It’s Like For States Not Burdened by Common Core

Florida wisely dropped the legislature’s bad idea to require Algebra II last year only to have its education commissioner tweak Common Core by putting in Calculus standards, a math domain two levels above the course the state bagged the year before. Only in a state where education policy is dominated by a former governor’s foundations and the political might of the Chamber of Commerce would such a Three Stooges episode break out.

Let’s take a look at Texas, one of five states which did not adopt Common Core.  Say, wasn’t Texas that state where Arne Duncan felt sorry for its children because they didn’t go along with his agenda? Anyway, Texas is facing no such problems:

AUSTIN, Texas – Policy pop quiz: Does Texas – algebra II = success?

The state that started a trend by making high school students tackle algebra II is now abandoning the policy in a move praised by school districts for affording more flexibility. But some policy experts are nervous because nearly 20 states have followed Texas’ lead in requiring the vigorous course.

Supporters say fewer course mandates give students more time to focus on vocational training for high-paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree, such as at Toyota’s factory in San Antonio or oil and chemical giant BASF’s facilities on the Gulf Coast.

But I thought that Common Core standards were supposed to “prepare students for the global workforce.” Many of Core’s republican mouthpieces hold up Texas as a standard for economic growth – the San Antonio Express-News reports this morning that the state added 252,400 jobs this past year – but they fail to mention that Texas somehow got there without Common Core.

Fortunately for Florida, a powerful champion for vocational training exists in Senate President, Don Gaetz (R-Niceville), who assures that adding industry certifications programs will be a priority again this year. Gaetz was instrumental in adding vocational high school graduation alternatives last year and probably felt all along that Algebra II was a bridge way too far that doesn’t serve the needs of all students. Florida needs more math flexibility – like Accounting, Business Math or Consumer Math – for students who opt for vocational or industry certification programs. So they can, well, “better prepare for a global workforce.”

The Texas change was supported by districts as “affording more flexibility,” but Core state like Florida are finding out that they really don’t have flexibility. Florida’s education commissioner was limited by Core’s copyright to only 15 percent changes, and she devoted 52 separate additions to Calculus…and then one to cursive writing.

Don’t mess with Texas, I guess.


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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