New standards cause rift among Republicans, Tea Party groups
The new Common Core State Standards are more than just a road map for teachers and students.
They're a political football causing a rift among Republicans.
In Florida, conservative moms and tea party groups have mounted fierce opposition to the national standards, saying decisions about teaching and learning should be made by state governments and local school boards — not the federal government. Their efforts attracted significant attention this summer, thanks to well-attended rallies, social media blitzes and the support of Sen. Marco Rubio.
"Our parents are reaching out to every (state) legislator they know and urging them to hit the pause button on Common Core," said Laura Zorc, a Vero Beach mother and co-founder of Florida Parents Against Common Core.
Few observers think the pressure will make the Florida Legislature or the Board of Education reverse course on the standards, which kick in across all grade levels when school starts this week. The benchmarks still have broad support among Republican lawmakers and a tireless champion in former Gov. Jeb Bush.
But the backlash could be enough to prompt Florida's exit from a national consortium creating the tests to accompany the new standards. Observers like Frederick Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute say the standards would be virtually meaningless without a common measuring stick.
"If there is a disconnect between the standards and the assessments, we end up worse than where we began," Hess said, noting that there would be no way to compare student performance in Florida to performance in other states.