Despite New Name, Critics Unhappy 'Florida Standards' Much Like Common Core
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There’s a new dirty word in Florida education. It’s a name that has gathered controversy over recent months, shrouded with criticism of federal overreach, data mining and academic inferiority. Parents, members of the public and even some teachers called for it to go.
In an effort to establish what the Florida Department of Education calls a “higher set of standards,” the department is dropping the name “Common Core” and replacing it with another title: the Florida Standards. But critics, still not satisfied, claim the name change is just the same product in a new wrapping.
Gov. Rick Scott even hopped on board with the name change, distancing the Sunshine State from the national education standards that have gathered considerable criticism over recent months.
“These are Florida standards,” he said at the Republican Party of Florida’s annual meeting in January. “They’re not some national standards; they’re going to be Florida standards. This is our state. We’re not going to have the federal government telling us how to do our education system.”
Florida isn’t the only state to shed the name “Common Core.” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order to get the state to stop using the "CC" words. Now, the standards will be referred to as “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.”
Iowa also made the move away from the title. Its standards are now called “The Iowa Core.”
Joe Follick, communications director for the Florida Department of Education, said the change seems to be the "most honest" way to refer to the standards.
"With so many proposed changes since the standards were adopted by the SBOE in 2010, it seems most honest and clear to refer to them all as Florida Standards," he said. " It seems confusing to parents and families to have different names for different subsets of standards, so we will be referring to all of our standards under the name of Florida Standards to avoid confusion."
But opponents of Common Core haven’t let up on their criticism just because the name of the education standards has changed.
"The window dressing changes they've proposed mean absolutely nothing," Chris Quackenbush of Stop Common Core FL told the Sun Sentinel.
The proposed changes to Common Core represent only a small fraction of the standards. There are about 11,000 standards outlining what students need to know in math and language arts. The 98 proposed changes to Common Core, if approved, would equal 0.8 percent of the total standards.
"The rebranding is deceptive, not good," Dr. Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition told Sunshine State News. "They are trying to get rid of the political toxicity related to Common Core, but have no intention of really changing [the standards]."
For Effrem and other anti-Common Core groups, the rebranding effort overlooks the testing portion of the standards, which they say is the true issue at hand with regard to data mining and privacy concerns.
"The test companies vying for the state contract are all fully aligned to Common Core," said Effrem. "The data still goes to the feds. Nothing has changed."
In January, FSCCC spoke out on potential issues with the standards and a new assessment test.
“These tests are either going to be the federally funded and supervised PARCC or SBAC tests or some other Common Core-aligned national test,” the group wrote. “Individual student test scores will be combined with highly personal student and family data to create academic and psychological profiles of students that will be available to the federal government, researchers, and corporations due to the weakening of the federal student privacy law.”
In August, Florida pulled out of the financial portion of the PARCC assessment test. PARCC does, however, still remain an option to replace the FCAT test, though a specific assessment has not yet been chosen.
The Florida Standards are still set to be fully implemented by the 2014-2015 academic year, the same dates for the full integration of Common Core.
The proposed changes to the Common Core standards will be voted on during the February board meeting, which takes place Feb. 18.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.