Gov. Scott invokes false threat to mess with Common Core standards — and our schools

Published September 24 2013
Updated September 24 2013

Good news, kids!

Your educational experience is about to get a lot more interesting because Gov. Rick Scott has invited crazy to the conversation.

That's right.

Your fearless leader is happily promoting kooky and gleefully pushing bonkers. And danged if he isn't planning to use your classrooms as part of his mad laboratories.

How do I know this?

Why, the governor kindly pointed it out in letters he wrote Monday to the state's Board of Education chairman and the U.S. Secretary of Education. The letters essentially threw open the doors for all sorts of new ideas when it comes to education in Florida.

For instance, the Common Core standards that state leaders insisted your curriculum be tailored around the past two years? Pffft!

Those standardized tests that your educational futures seem to balance upon? Torn up, and starting from scratch.

And, believe it or not, that's not the crazy part.

It is Scott's reasoning behind the changes that bring tinfoil hats and lunar hoaxes to the table. Scott is worried about "federal control" and "federal intrusion" and "overreach by the federal government" and "federal mandates" when it comes to Common Core.

Does he have evidence? No. Does he offer examples? No. Does he cite experts, studies or federal legislation?

No, no, no.

Scott's entire basis for this last-minute overhaul is that Common Core has become, "in the minds of many in our state," symbolic of federal intrusion in education.

And as anybody who has ever studied the suspiciously changing contour of Corn Flakes knows, the federal government is run by socialists, Marxists and Barackists.

Of course, the governor could have cleared this all up by simply directing any concerned citizens to Florida's own Department of Education website.

There is an entire page that debunks all the rumors of federal intrusion through Common Core. It points out the standards were not created by the federal government, but by a nonprofit group of state school leaders and the nation's bipartisan governors association.

It also points out states are free to choose their own curriculum, as well as choosing, or even creating, their own assessment tests. The federal government has zero input.

It might also point out that Florida has been one of the leaders in establishing Common Core, and embraced the standards voluntarily and enthusiastically in 2010.

But those distinctions do not play well to the tea party crowd.

And so instead of being an actual grownup leader, Scott pandered to his whackadoodle constituents with a pair of letters filled with conspiracy-sounding phrases.

Still, in the end, I don't think it will matter much.

The state is too far down the road toward Common Core to start ripping things up now. My guess is those same principles of Common Core will be repackaged as new Sunshine State standards with the tiniest of tweaks to satisfy the fringe complaints.

And, truth be told, there is nothing wrong with striving to make sure standards and assessments in Florida are as valid and fair as possible.

The real problem is risking everything that has already been accomplished by our students and educators by creating a mythical bogeyman just to score political points.