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Politics

One Issue Could Be Disruptive to Rick Scott's Re-Election Hopes

March 3, 2014 - 6:00pm

Anything can happen in politics but is it possible that conservatives in Florida will help depose a conservative governor?

Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election, with Florida leading most other states in clawing its way out of the stagnant economy and improving government schools.

Yet, it is the latter that has some on the right displeased.

Florida is some 15 years into successful reforms that include higher standards, accountability and choice.

In the same vein, there is a movement toward what are called the Common Core standards. Opponents are angry at Scott, even though he appears to be amenable to slowing the adoption of Common Core in Florida.

Opponents resent the role of the federal government, which is understandable.

But they also complain about the curriculum.

There is no curriculum.

Standards are one thing. They establish what children should learn -- i.e., Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies in 1492.

Materials and methods used to instruct children are the curriculum. States and local school boards establish the curriculum and would continue to do so under Common Core.

If some wacky liberal politicians in a school district want children in the government schools to be told that Columbus landed in 1492 but he was a monster who waged genocide among the noble savages, they can do so now.

This would continue to be the case under Common Core.

Meanwhile, school officials in the Panhandle could adopt curriculum that teaches students that the voyages of Columbus established a link between the Old World of Europe and the New World of the Western Hemisphere that had vast benefits for the entire world.

Actually, there are no history standards. There are only math and English standards. Here is one: Know that numbers that are not rational are called irrational. Understand informally that every number has a decimal expansion; for rational numbers show that the decimal expansion repeats eventually, and convert a decimal expansion which repeats eventually into a rational number.

How is that a threat to anyone?

Parents and taxpayers should monitor what is being taught in government schools and how it is being taught. They should resist the continual efforts of the federal government to intrude on this local function, as well.

But conservative parents and taxpayers might rue the day they help oust a conservative governor who is supporting progress while demonstrating fiscal responsibility. In his address to the Legislature as it opens today, Scott probably will talk about a record $18.8 billion for the public schools coupled with $500 million in tax relief while citing Florida's success in paying down debt and helping businesses create jobs.

The alternative seems to be, at the moment, a rudderless ex-governor whose tenure was woefully unexceptional, or a last-moment choice from among a pantheon of left-wing politicians all too willing to mimic the willful policies of the federal welfare state.

Decisions on such a choice should not be based on a single issue, unless it is one of overwhelming importance and there are more appealing alternatives.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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