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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Lawmakers, commissioner sow seeds to delay Common Core in Florida



Education commissioner Tony Bennett continued his efforts Wednesday to update lawmakers on the state's effort to implement the Common Core State Standards by 2014-15.

He listed several key items on the to-do list, not the least of which was the need to communicate with parents, students and other members of the public the importance of the change in standards and testing.

While Bennett impressed some on the Senate education appropriations subcommittee with the details of the effort, he also found himself fielding pointed questions about just how doable the Common Core can be in the time frame set forth.

Sen. Bill Montford, vice chairman of the education policy committee, raised concerns that "even if we had unlimited funding, we can't get the pieces in place."

Montford, a Democrat who also heads the state superintendents association, noted that many schools lack the needed technology to implement the new testing system. He also worried that many teachers won't be trained in the new standards and expectations.

He was not alone.

Sen. David Simmons, a Republican from Altamonte Springs, focused similarly on two key issues: Money and time. He repeatedly asked for a price tag for the full initiative, something that wasn't readily available.

He hinted that delay might be wise, using the phrase "if in fact we do stay on track" a couple of times.

Sen. John Legg, chairman of the education policy committee, used the same kind of cautionary language. Legg, a New Port Richey Republican, asked Bennett if he had a "Plan B" just in case things don't fall into place as desired.

Bennett responded that he did.

"No one wants and believes PARCC will deliver on time more than I do," he said, referring to the tests associated with Common Core. "We also have a repsonsibility to ensure implementation is smooth. ... By saying you have a Plan B, you are not saying Plan A is doomed to failure. We also have to acknowledge the challenges."

At least one bill is already filed that would postpone implementation of the Common Core by two years. A handful of states, including Alabama, have begun pulling away from their commitment to the national standards.

Stay tuned to see what comes next for Florida.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:13pm]


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