Rick Scott's Record on Education and Common Core vs. Charlie Crist's

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: September 24, 2013 11:30 AM

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

After former state CFO Alex Sink announced on Friday that she would not make a second gubernatorial bid, the camps of Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, clashed over education as both Republicans and Democrats look ahead to 2014.

Over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Times published a piece by Crist -- who left the Republicans in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats late last year -- in which the former governor praises Common Core and left no room for doubt that he fully supports the standards. Crist tore into Scott, portraying the governor as wobbly on the issue.

“Governor Rick Scott needs to get off the fence and lead Florida's embrace of the national Common Core Education Standards,” Crist wrote. “These standards have been adopted by 45 states and will allow our children to be equal to their peers nationally. Further, these standards -- which cover language arts and math -- are much more in-depth than the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test and our own Sunshine State Standards. That is why as governor I supported the movement to Common Core.

“Tea party and other outliers have called for a rejection of these standards because they were promulgated under the umbrella of a ‘national’ effort,” Crist added. “Truth be told, their opposition probably has less to do with education than the fact the standards, started under President George W. Bush, were finalized while President Barack Obama was in office.”

Crist drew on other Republicans besides Bush in his defense of Common Core, including noting that former Gov. Jeb Bush was a supporter of the standards. Scott had been seen as a supporter of Common Core especially with his recent appointment of Pam Stewart, who backs the standards, to become Florida education commissioner. However, on Monday, Scott announced Florida would withdraw from the Common Core assessment test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Republicans fired back on Monday. Republican Party of Florida Chairman (RPOF) Lenny Curry slammed Crist on education and insisted his record did not compare to Scott’s.

“Charlie Crist was an empty-chair governor when it came to education, just like his now-Democratic Party pointed out while he was governor,” Curry said on Monday. “Charlie Crist’s failed leadership left the budget a complete mess and Florida’s students and teachers suffering because of it."

Curry insisted Scott’s record on education was much stronger than Crist’s.

“Governor Rick Scott has made education a top priority since he took office just under three years ago,” Curry said. “He has implemented record state-based funding for K-12 schools, including over $2 billion in just the last two years, which puts state-based funding at the highest level in Florida’s history. He set aside $480 million for teacher pay raises and has held the line on college tuition so it’s affordable for more families. He challenged all Florida state colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree for $10,000 – a challenge that was accepted and is being implemented by many institutions -- and he supports the highest academic standards for all of Florida’s students. Governor Scott understands that creating a world-class education system will prepare Florida’s workforce and spur economic growth."

Curry ended with a shot at Crist and Florida Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant. “It’s clear Charlie Crist doesn’t share this view as he let Florida’s education system wither on the vine and created a mess that Governor Scott has cleaned up,” Curry said. “So Charlie Crist and Allison Tant can continue spitting their nonsense and baseless attacks, but this just proves they have no positive agenda to improve education for Florida’s students and teachers.”

In another sign the race is starting to heat up, even as neither Scott nor Crist has officially filed to run yet, the RPOF launched a website on Monday defending the governor’s record on the economy. The site also contrasts Scott’s record with Crist’s time in Tallahassee.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinDerbySSN.

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