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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco superintendent Browning sticks by endorsement for House race



Active in politics for years, Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning hasn't made many endorsements because his role counting votes prevented it. No longer in charge of elections, Browning has begun offering his support of candidates.

One of his first endorsements went to Bill Gunter, who's seeking the Republican nomination to replace Mike Fasano in Florida House District 36. At a recent candidate debate, Gunter -- like his opponents -- said he did not support the Common Core State Standards that Florida has adopted.

The thing is, Browning has unabashedly promoted the Common Core as the right way to prepare students for careers and college. So the Gradebook checked in with Browning to ask whether his backing of Gunter contradicted his push for the new standards. He said he called Gunter to make sure he understood the candidate's stance.

"Bill Gunter assured me he has never said he opposed the Common Core State Standards," Browning said. "What he has said consistently is that he favors higher standards for our kids to meet. ... Those higher standards are, in my opinion, Common Core State Standards. I never got the impression that Bill is anti-Common Core."

Asked to clarify his views, Gunter told the Gradebook, "We need to make sure we get this right. We should seek to have the highest standards in the world and then hold our education establishment accountable on meeting those goals. If that’s a Florida set of standards then, I’d support it. I think we must look at it all and figure which standards achieve the greatest outcomes for our school children. When we put student achievement first, and it’s real and measured, everyone wins. I oppose PARCC testing."

Jim Mathieu, also seeking the House seat, said via e-mail that he favors delaying Common Core implementation to study it further and seek other options. "My problems with Common Core is that at a national level one could now match apples to apples, which then would promote a National Education Board so to say. These federal tax dollars would not have impact as most federal programs. An unwise use of such dollars."

Candidate Jeromy Harding did not respond.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:46pm]


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