Common ground -- with one exception -- on Common Core
It's not hard to find an argument about Common Core.
Members of the Hillsborough County School Board, who held an informational workshop on the issue Tuesday, didn't even have to leave their conference table.
In the final moments of the session, member Stacy White announced, "I refuse to be a PR agent for Common Core."
Espousing the views of many fellow conservatives, White said, "I'm concerned about federal over-reach ... We should be driving this at the local level. When we lose that local control, we get a one-size-fits-all, all-or-nothing model that we have today."
Given that aspects of the Florida Standards, as the state calls its version, are still being debated in the legislature, he said, "I think we need for this to slow down to the greatest extent possible."
White, now finishing his four-year term on the board, is running for Hillsborough County Commission in the largely conservative east Hillsborough District 4.
His position contrasts starkly with those of the other six board members, who had questions about how parents could help their kids with homework and how to answer constituent concerns. A contingent of curriculum specialists answered their questions and walked them through some examples, including a hands-on math exercise that teaches third graders the concept of area before they learn the formula.
For the most part, board members said they've made peace with Common Core and wish everybody would just calm down. "I think we talk about Common Core in an almost scary manner," said member Doretha Edgecomb. "I hope we can find a way to talk about it like it's not a scary monster waiting to grab our kids and our teachers."
That was before White's statement, which he purposefully left until the end.
But member Candy Olson did not let him have the last word. "Dr. White, I couldn't disagree with you more," she said.
Correcting his statement about its origins, she said "the Common Core State Standards were not developed by the federal government or anybody in the federal government." Rather, she said, business leaders asked educators to find a way to make their workers more competitive. It was a grassroots movement, she said, to develop thinking skills for students "so they can function in a world we can't even envision. I think we have to do this because we owe it to our kids and our taxpayers and our parents."
As for the pending legislation White mentioned?
Most of those bills pertain to the sharing of student data, Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said. And on that issue, she agreed with White that it's best to be cautious.