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Hernando County School Board members skeptical of Common Core

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board workshop Tuesday afternoon was supposed to be a chance for the public and board members to air any issues they had with the controversial Common Core State Standards.

Turns out board members had a lot of concerns. The public, not so much. Only two people showed up.

After a short presentation by district staffers, board members launched into more than an hour of pointed questions and commentary about the new more rigorous benchmarks that supporters say will emphasize critical thinking and provide a better state-by-state comparison of student performance.

Among their biggest concerns: financial constraints, loss of local control and the possibility of excessive testing.

School Board member Cynthia Moore said she didn't feel education standards should be determined at the national level.

"What's important to Florida is not important to Arkansas or Mississippi," she said. Even different parts of Florida have different priorities, she added.

Board member Gus Guadagnino said he was bothered by a system that focuses too much on competing globally and not locally.

"My thing is how about we educate our children in a way that we can build our community," he said. "Nothing else is going to build your community better than a good workforce, which comes out of your school system."

A few board members said the new Common Core standards, which are already being implemented in schools, really are nothing all that new.

Board member John Sweeney felt that a lot of what's contained in the standards is just a "rewording of ideas that have been done before."

"I think it's just another name for what we were already doing," Moore agreed. "I think it's a bunch of garbage."

Board member Dianne Bonfield also agreed, saying Florida has had good and effective standards.

"I don't think that we've been doing that bad of a job," she said. "I think that a lot of time is going to be spent spinning wheels on this when it's already been invented."

Bonfield also had concerns over who will profit from the switch to Common Core.

"We're going to be taking money that needs to be spent in those four walls of the classroom and putting it in the pockets" of bureaucrats and companies, she said.

"I think it's a grandiose plan that quite honestly is never going to happen," she added.

After board members discussed the standards, only one person from the public — Common Core critic Hamilton Hanson — spoke to the board, praising many of their words.

The board did not take any action on the standards, which have drawn an unusual mix of opponents, ranging from some tea party groups and libertarians to some Democratic lawmakers.

Moore said the board should talk to legislators about their concerns.

Board Chairman Matt Foreman largely stayed out of the discussion. He did urge residents who have concerns to voice them at the ballot box.

"If they don't like what their government is doing," he said, "they have the ability to go out ... and vote these people out of office."

Contact Danny Valentine at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow him Twitter @HernandoTimes.

Hernando County School Board members skeptical of Common Core 09/03/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 6:40pm]
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