Why does Rep. Debbie Mayfield oppose the Common Core for Florida?
It's all about local control for state Rep. Debbie Mayfield.
The Vero Beach Republican legislator filed a bill (HB 25) to stop Florida's participation in the Common Core State Standards because, in a nutshell, she's not convinced that they're truly Florida's standards. And that doesn't sit well with her.
"A lot of my constituents have concerns about the Common Core process," Mayfield told the Gradebook. "Their concern is taking some part of states' rights away. I am adamantly against us signing on with a group of 48 states on coming up with our curriculum."
[Note: The Common Core is a set of standards, and not a curriculum. Also, 45 states have signed on to the Common Core, and some are dropping off.]
Mayfield, who also is seeking to have Florida step away from the PARCC consortium for Common Core testing, said she believes the Sunshine State Standards are better and easier to navigate than the Common Core. She pointed to a 2010 Fordham Institute report that compared the SSS positively to the Common Core.
"I'm not against us looking at other peoples' curriculum and standards and being better than them," Mayfield said, stressing her support for improving students' learning and for higher standards.
But as for just going along, she wanted no part of it. "Any time you're part of a group, you're going to have to compromise on something," she said. "It's our state's right to do what we want to do."
Mayfield's bill gives voice to a growing anti-Common Core movement in the state that was given a seat, but whose representative expressed disgust at feeling outmanned, at Gov. Rick Scott's recent public education summit. Another state lawmaker, Rep. Ray Pilon of Sarasota (whose county GOP has launched an anti-CCSS petition), also has publicly said he will fight to kill the Core. The Senate president and House speaker, meanwhile, have said they back the Common Core but want out of PARCC, favoring instead a "Florida plan" on testing.
Where all this posturing leaves the power brokers remains to be seen. Jeb Bush, considered in some circle to still be running Florida's education show, is a supporter. Scott, seeking reelection, won his seat with the backing of groups now in opposition. The two men met in a private summit last week to talk about education. Few details have emerged.
Through all this, schools and teachers are working feverishly to meet the standards, which are state mandated (at least for now). They've spent countless hours and lots of money getting there. Asked about this investment, Mayfield said it simply makes the political debate more urgent.
"I don't know that all the teachers are on board with this," she said. "That's one of the reasons we need to take a look at this."