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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Common Core debate should be about standards, not politics, Senate chairman says



Much of Florida's debate over the Common Core State Standards has come down to politics.

Look no farther than the Miami-Dade GOP's vote Tuesday to oppose the standards based on what it deemed inappropriate federal overreach. (As if the federal government, rather than the Florida Board of Education, had adopted it.) Or take a look at the Sarasota GOP's petition against the CCSS, which suggests the Common Core is "bad for students."

Florida Senate Education chairman John Legg, R-Pasco County, has a simple question for such naysayers: How so? How, exactly, is the Common Core missing the mark?

Legg, who recently urged his fellow senators to read the standards before speaking out on them, continued Wednesday with his effort to focus the discussion on the actual standards rather than on the (often irrelevant and incorrect) talking points that some people use to criticize them. He sent an e-mail to education reporters around Florida, asking them to encourage Floridians to review the standards and bring any concerns to his attention.

"Please contact me directly at with your comments, suggestions, or concerns on the specific standards," he wrote. "Please reference in your email the specific standard that interests you.  Because your participation is critical in the continuous improvement of our educational standards, I will be welcoming your comments from now through the upcoming Legislative Session."

Legg told the Gradebook that he's spent several evenings visiting with doubters throughout the communities, discussing their fears and pointing out where the rhetoric diverges from the language of the standards. He said some of the negativity goes away as the facts come out.

His efforts, supported by leadership, suggest that bills to do away with the Core in Florida will face a tough path through the Senate (though he won't exactly say that). The Board of Education on Tuesday reiterated its support of the Common Core, which it adopted in 2010. And former governor Jeb Bush kept the drumbeat up, too, with his foundation holding a webinar on the positives of the Common Core.

Gov. Rick Scott has been somewhat silent on the issue lately, although in the past he's been supportive. Bush told reporters in D.C. today that he's not concerned: Scott "told me he's committed to Common Core." Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 1:34pm]


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