TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Common Core is getting a makeover in the Sunshine State.
Florida officials have announced that the state’s new math and English learning standards will no longer be referred to as “Common Core standards.” Instead, K-12 leaders will start referring to them as “Florida Standards,” reports MySunCoast.com.
They say the name change is justified given that the state Board of Education will soon consider making 98 changes or modifications to the learning standards. If some or all of those changes are approved – voilà! – it will make the entire set of standards unique to the state. Thus, “Common Core” is out and “Florida Standards” are in.
Or so the argument goes.
Common Core opponents aren’t impressed by the name change, and dismiss it as a meaningless marketing ploy.
“The rebranding and messaging is largely political,” education analyst Anne Hyssop told the Miami Herald.
“At their heart, the standards in Florida are still Common Core standards,” Hyslop said, noting that many of the proposed changes are minor.
To that we say, “Yes and no.”
We agree that the 98 proposed changes – which were compiled with public input – in and of themselves aren’t sweeping enough to erase the “commonality” that will still exist between Florida’s standards and the ones being used by the 44 other “Common Core” states.
According to MySunCoast.com, the proposed “changes include 37 clarifications and two deletions to the current Common Core guidelines, as well as 60 additional standards” – most of which “deal with calculus being taught to all high school students and not just those in advanced placement classes.”
The proposed additions also reinstate cursive handwriting into the state’s elementary school curriculum, the news site adds.
The state Board of Education will vote on the proposed changes next month, the Tampa Tribune reports.
Since all Common Core states are allowed to “tweak” the standards by 15 percent, Florida’s proposed changes are likely acceptable to the Common Core overlords and don’t justify a name change.
However, if these 98 proposed changes are just the beginning of the changes that Florida parents, teachers, taxpayers and lawmakers will demand in the months and years ahead – then maybe the name change is appropriate.
Perhaps Florida officials are serious about having the state stand on its own, as Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said during a recent state Board of Education meeting.
If so, then Floridians are chipping away at the overarching premise behind Common Core – which is to eventually have students in all 50 states studying under the same academic standards, using virtually the same curriculum to prepare them for the same standardized tests.
That kind of educational uniformity is the stuff that dreams are made of for data-freaks (such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan) and K-12 techies (such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates).
But if Florida and other states keep “customizing” their standards, it will turn Common Core supporters’ dreams into nightmares.
We can only hope.