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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Gov. Scott won't attend his three-day education summit



Gov. Rick Scott has organized a three-day education summit in Clearwater, with education leaders, state lawmakers, parents and teachers. But he doesn't plan to attend, his office said.

Instead he's asked the state's interim commissioner, Pam Stewart, to lead the group and provide him with feedback. Stewart met "face to face" with Scott before the summit began, a spokesman from the State Department of Education said. 

The summit's first day was mostly introductions and a history of Florida's accountability system. Day two has been focused on the Common Core State Standards, with many of the participants saying that the state needs to do a better job explaining the new standards to the public.

That message needs to come from the top, starting with Scott, said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, an organization that provides tax-credit scholarships to low-income students.

"I think we need strong, courageous leadership," he said.

One suggestion was to change the name of Common Core or remove mention of it, emphasizing that the standards are Florida's. Others said that could be confusing, making people believe that yet another new set of standards was being adopted.

Florida Board Chairman Gary Chartrand suggested that the state look for a curriculum or instructional materials for Common Core that "align with Florida's values and culture." He said reading lists could upset people, particularly in they mentioned topics such as socialism or homosexuality.

"Math is math...reading lists get people fired up," he said.

Keith Calloway, with the Professional Educators Network, said the state needs to cut out some of the unnecessary tasks required of teachers. 

"A lot of people are scared right now," he said of teachers.

Some of the legislators in the group, including state Senator Bill Galvano, said there has to be a discussion about how to pay for whatever assessment the state adopts to go with Common Core. 

"It has to be affordable," he said.

The third day of the summit is focused on teacher evaluations and school grades. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 2:41pm]


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