How far should Florida go to end 'federal intrusion' into state education policy?
In aiming to justify his plan to get Florida out of the PARCC testing consortium, Gov. Rick Scott argued that he wanted to keep the federal government out of the state's education system. In many ways, though, the federal government is already there.
U.S. Department of Education reports show that Florida received $1.768 billion in federal funds for education in 2012, including $14.8 million to support state assessments required under No Child Left Behind. The numbers are similar for 2013. They also include $735 million for Title I and related grants, and $631 million for special education grants. (See page 21 for details.)
Scott has not called on Florida to reject these funds as a different version of the "federal intrusion" he found in the PARCC program.
Scott's press office next issued a statement attempting to clarify. "Withdrawing from the fiscal relationship with PARCC will also prevent further federal involvement because PARCC is a federally funded test, which currently requires the state to meet federally established deadlines and other federal criteria," spokeswoman Melissa Sellers wrote.
The USDOE has given PARCC a $186 million grant to support the consortium of states in writing its exams. The federal government's role now, according to PARCC, is monitoring to see that the group spends the money in accordance with the rules and creates the tests as promised.
Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said in an e-mail that federal support for FCAT is "different from PARCC" because the FCAT is a state-developed test. Top lawmakers, who backed Scott's move to withdraw from PARCC, but not because of their concerns over federal funding.
"We didn't think they were ready for prime time," House Speaker Will Weatherford said of the consortium.