Twin Bills in Florida Legislature Attempt to Halt Common Core
Around the State
The State Board of Education may have unanimously passed nearly 100 proposed changes to Common Core State Standards last week, but Florida legislators in both chambers have bills that would stop the implementation of the new standards entirely.
On Wednesday, Sen. Greg Evers, R-Pensacola, filed a bill in the Florida Senate to pump the brakes on the implementation of the new education standards, which have become the subject of intense scrutiny throughout recent months.
At least one state board member would be required to attend each meeting.
Additionally, Evers' bill would require a "fiscal analysis" of the projected cost of implementation of the standards by an independent entity "with expertise in the development, implementation, and assessment of curricular standards to conduct the fiscal analysis."
Evers' bill would also require the state to withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and would not allow the state to implement assessments aligned to Common Core by PARCC.
"Instead, the state shall adopt and implement new assessments that provide valid, reliable, and timely testing of student performance," reads the bill.
Evers isn’t alone in his legislation. His bill, which is co-sponsored by Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, is identical to another in the Florida House filed by Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach.
Mayfield’s bill has been praised by anti-Common Core activists as a step in the right direction for putting a pause on the new education standards. Groups of these activists have already rallied behind Mayfield and the bill, vowing to support legislators who fight against the standards.
Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition told Sunshine State News last week that the FSCCC was working closely with Mayfield and other elected officials who have filed related bills in the Legislature.
Effrem said the position would be widely supported by members of the public who won’t be willing to back down so easily over the standards.
“A lot of parents, teachers, grandparents are very concerned about this, and I don’t think they’re going to take this lying down,” she said.
Critics of the standards have expressed concerns over academic inferiority, data mining and lack of preparation as just a few of the reasons the standards aren’t such a great idea.
But it’s unclear whether the bills will be able to gain traction in the Legislature. Senate President Don Gaetz has already said he doesn’t exactly see the standards in the same light as opponents do.
"You can't dip them in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama's face,” he said last year. “They're not some federal conspiracy."
In an interview with Sunshine State News, Gaetz praised the changes made by Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and said he backed improving standards in the Sunshine State no matter what program they were included under.
“If the standards are high standards, then I’ll back them,” Gaetz said.
But Gaetz also noted the complexity of the issue.
“The Common Core debate should not be reduced to a bumper-sticker issue,” he explained.
The 2014 legislative session begins Tuesday, March 4.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.