Experts Weigh in on Common Core at Public Hearing
Around the State
The first of three public hearings on Common Core State Standards began Tuesday, and the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition made sure its voice was heard by bringing in two experts with vast experience both in education and in reforming education standards.
Two other hearings will take place this week, in Davie and in Tallahassee. Each will be three hours long.
The hearings were ordered by Gov. Rick Scott after he issued an executive order to sever financial ties to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a test associated with Common Core.
The Florida Department of Education is also accepting public input on its website for parents and members of the public who can’t attend the meeting. As of Monday, the department had received over 5,000 comments from members of the public.
However, the co-founder of FSCCC, Dr. Karen Effrem, is skeptical about whether the comments will actually be taken seriously.
“[The department] is taking online comments, but who knows what will happen to those and whether they are actually examined,” she said.
Effrem and her coalition have been getting more and more involved in the battle against Common Core in recent months. She enlisted the help of two high-profile education experts to help make the case against Common Core State Standards, which have been causing a frenzy throughout the state and the nation.
FSCCC brought in Sandra Stotsky, who has been credited with developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students as well as the strongest academic standards when she served as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education. Massachusetts has been lauded as the city on a hill for education standards throughout the years.
Stotsky told Sunshine State News that the format of the public hearings simply isn’t conducive to gathering true public opinion on the issue.
“When you’ve got hundreds, maybe thousands, of different comments, there’s no one person that can put it all together and say ‘This is really what the comments are really all about,’” she said. “There’s no way to handle all this feedback. It simply doesn’t work.”
Stotsky also said the public hearings wouldn’t lead to any legitimate change of Florida’s education standards.
“You end up with what you had before ... It’s a way of leaving control in the people who set up this format,” she said. “It’s simply not a legitimate format for gathering information to change a document.”
Ze’Ev Wurman joined Stotsky in Tampa to speak on the quality of mathematics standards. Wurman was a Senior Policy Adviser at the U.S. Department of Education official under George W. Bush. He also served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated the suitability of Common Core’s standards for California.
Both Wurman and Stotsky agreed that Common Core standards are a much lower level of learning than other standards, and that could spell trouble.
Wurman warned that the biggest loser of Common Core won’t be the brightest children, but the disadvantaged.
“By lowering the standards, you’re not doing the disadvantaged any favors,” he said. “There will always be people who get to the top -- but those people are the ones with power, money. When the general curriculum is diluted, it’s the disadvantaged that will not be able to step up because they don’t know what to strive for ... they think ‘Oh, the school is giving me a [passing grade], this is OK. I’m on track to be college ready.’”
He noted that Florida has already made so much progress with academic standards, but Common Core could set that progress back.
“Florida has actually made great strides with their current standards,” he said. “Now you’ve basically kicked [the progress] out of the window and decided to change to something that is mediocre and takes control out of your hands.”
Stotsky, Wurman and Effrem were joined Tuesday evening by over 200 parents, teachers, members of the public and other Common Core opposition groups who are concerned about the quality of the standards and the future of Florida's students.
Wednesday's hearing will take place in Davie and Thursday's will be held in Tallahassee.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter @AllisonNielsen.