The Common Core Standards for public education are supposed to be implemented in Florida next school year, but Historic City News has learned of scores of grass-roots activists who have other plans.
The driving force behind the Common Core initiative by the National Governors Association in 2007 was the idea of “shared standards”. Florida is among 45 states that agreed to adopt Core Standards, but protests may stall implementation in at least nine other states.
“The standards help foster in-depth learning and critical thinking skills,” St Johns County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner, a supporter of Common Core, said in a published interview last month. “This is the third year we’ve been doing it and our performances have continued to improve. I do think Common Core is a contributing factor.”
Other supporters say Common Core provides a guide to prepare students for college and careers — it determines what a child learns, and when. And, therein lies the rub. While supporters, like Joyner, buildup Common Core as a framework for education that allows “in-depth study” and fosters “critical thinking”, many opponents say their problem is with what, exactly, educators want to place in front of their children to study and think about.
Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, one of a handful of groups in opposition, says it is not the role of the federal government, or state government, to impose these standards, assessments, or controversial data collection. “They are going to fundamentally transform education,” said their spokesperson, Dr. Karen Effrem. Another objection appears to be a loss of local control if Common Core is implemented.
Another group, Florida Parents against Common Core, has a 12-step program. It includes contacting every elected official from the governor down to the local county Republican state committee member and every member of the Senate and House education committees. “Step 9″ in the program requests members to withdraw from the Florida PTA; and, instead, to forward the money they would have paid in dues to a teacher.
Teachers have organized to oppose what they consider an over-reliance on standardized tests since the beginning of the reform movement in the 1990′s, which is where the roots of Common Core can be found. They believe that greater reliance on standardized tests hinders a teacher’s ability to teach. School teachers who say they refuse to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality and refuse to accept assessments, tests, and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning, organized the “Bad Ass Teachers Association” and maintains a website.
Common Core detractors are hailing a bill filed in the Florida legislature this term (HB-25) that would enable opponents to continue debating the initiative. The bill would prevent implementation of Common Core and mandate that Florida withdraw from the “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers” — the test designed for the Core.