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Military Veterans Throw Support Behind Florida Standards

March 7, 2014 - 6:00pm

A group of retired military generals and admirals is putting its weight behind Floridas new education standards, claiming they will better prepare students for the military, should they choose to serve.

On Thursday, retired military leaders Maj. Gen. Donald Infante, U.S. Army (Ret.) and Brig. Gen. Roger Rowe, U.S. Army (Ret.) of Mission:Readiness, a national security organization of senior retired military leaders calling for smart investments in Americas children, spoke on a new report showing how the Florida Standards will help students acquire and develop the skills needed to succeed in the military.

The organizations report found 75 percent of Americans arent able to serve in the military because they are either physically unfit, have a criminal record, or are poorly educated.

The bigger problem -- the education portion -- the generals said, needs to be fixed.

Infante noted that one in five high school graduates cant enlist in the armed forces because they cant pass the entrance test.

You have to ask yourself, What kind of standards do we have that causes that in the state of Florida? asked Infante at a press conference Thursday. As a former Army man, what happens in our classroom today has a direct bearing on the future of our military readiness.

Comparing military entrance standards and the new Florida Standards has given the generals hope. They say thats because the two sets of standards overlap significantly, making them very comparable to one another. The standards require critical thinking, problem solving, being able to comprehend and communicate complex text -- essential skills for the military and many other jobs.

The Florida Standards, Infante continued, will help students in the Sunshine State develop their full potential and help them get on track to a better life.

Florida adopted the Common Core State Standards as part of a national initiative to reform the way children learn in school. In January, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart proposed nearly 100 changes to the Common Core standards -- and also proposed a name change to associate them closer to home. In February, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the changes, and the Florida Standards officially became the next step in education for Floridas students.

The standards, however, have brought significant backlash from teachers, parents and members of the public over concerns about issues of federal overreach, psychological manipulation and data mining.

But to David Pinter, principal of Fort Caroline Elementary School in Jacksonville, the criticisms just arent true.

There seems to be some misunderstanding about [the standards] origins, he said. This was not a federal mandate.

Brig. Gen. Rowe again stressed that the standards would put Florida on the right track for success not only in the classroom, but beyond

Florida is moving in the right direction by implementing the Florida Standards, and must continue on this course by implementing assessments aligned with these standards, he said. This will ensure that students will be better prepared for postsecondary education, the workforce, and the military if they choose to serve.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.


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