Things Get Ugly as Common Core Changes Come to a Vote
Around the State
Tensions ran high over Common Core during Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting in Orlando, with opponents coming out in full force to voice their criticisms of the national standards.
The focal point of the meeting revolved around approving a set of proposed changes to the Common Core State Standards. Last month, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart unveiled the nearly 100 changes -- with over 50 in calculus -- as well as a rebranding effort by renaming the standards the “Florida Standards.”
The board heard over two hours of comments from parents, teachers, members of the public and even candidates for the House of Representatives, nearly all of whom were largely upset that Florida has accepted Common Core as the standards of choice for students in the Sunshine State.
Chairman Gary Chartrand and the board gave each speaker two minutes to make his or her case.
Several anti-Common Core protesters drove more than three hours -- some even drove for seven hours -- to attend the meeting. They opposed nearly every aspect of the national standards, from its complicated word problems in mathematics and its digital textbooks to its “psychological indoctrination” of students.
Things got heated as the meeting progressed. Chartrand, who requested that audience members do not clap, cheer or wave signs after speakers had their two minutes, became visibly upset after audience members disobeyed the rule and began cheering and clapping.
Opponents were disgruntled over the way the meeting was held, complaining that the board wasn’t actually listening to them or showing them respect.
"We've been polite -- you've ignored us," said Chris Quackenbush from Stop Common Core FL.
One citizen even went so far as to compare Common Core to the Hitler Youth Program in Nazi Germany. Another threatened the state board, saying if any of them had political aspirations, he could make “things go viral” on the Internet. Conservatives addressed a representative from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, vowing that the governor would not receive their support if he didn’t oppose Common Core.
“If [Gov. Scott] doesn't firmly stand behind this, I guarantee the conservatives in this state will sit this out and he won't get the support … he got last time,” said one member of the public.
After the public comments were over, the board unanimously voted to approve the changes.
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 equal 0.8 percent of the total standards.
Critics have been speaking out against the standards for nearly a year -- and if Tuesday’s meeting is any indication, it appears the Florida Standards face a rocky road ahead.
The Florida Standards will be fully implemented by the 2014-2015 academic school year and a new assessment test to replace the FCAT will be chosen in March.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.