Monday, December 11, 2017
Education

John Romano: Tweaks to Common Core don't help schools, weaken confidence in system

So the state's Department of Education has released its proposed changes to the Common Core academic standards, and let me be the first to say:

Yowza!

I have never seen such bold and courageous tweaking.

Education officials heard the cries of parents and the shouts of the politically active, and they responded by changing a few words, moving several commas and pinning our children's hopes and dreams on the rescue of cursive writing lessons.

In other words, they sorta rubber-stamped the whole shebang.

You have to admit, this was an interesting gambit. By declining to embrace Common Core — while at the same time refusing to substantially revamp it — state leaders have run the risk of ticking off everyone.

These changes will certainly not appease the hard-core tea party activists who believe Common Core is an Obama-hatched plot to brainwash America's youth.

And it doesn't appease the conspiracy-minded crowd (that's me with the bad haircut in the second row) who worry that Common Core is a little too cozy with the standardized testing companies who stand to reap gazillions from this idea.

It even takes a backhanded swipe at Common Core cheerleaders (Hello, Jeb Bush!) by loudly suggesting the state has a better solution even though little was actually changed.

So where do all of these faux fixes leave Florida now?

Probably worse off than yesterday.

All that was accomplished by this political grandstanding was a weakening of the public's confidence in Common Core, a set of academic standards our Tallahassee elite seem to forget they adopted enthusiastically and voluntarily four years ago.

And instead of addressing legitimate concerns about these new standards — A) Can they correct the achievement gap? B) Will the reliance on standardized tests give classrooms a Wal-Mart-esque atmosphere of blandness and quotas? C) How can we trust still-to-be created tests without serious vetting? — we've been given window dressing.

Sad to say, this was entirely predictable. And nonetheless infuriating.

For years and years, the mantra in education circles has been accountability. Student accountability. Teacher accountability. School accountability.

And yet our leaders refuse to hold themselves accountable.

They will not admit their obsession with assessment tools has not only led to flawed and unjust results, but has also wasted untold millions in taxpayer dollars and classroom instruction time.

It's been said here before, and it needs to be said again:

The best thing our education leaders can do for our children is to tap the brakes on these reforms.

This doesn't necessarily mean we revamp or abandon Common Core. It doesn't mean we give up on accountability or the raising of standards. What it means is we should introduce reform in a careful and controlled way.

Choose a handful of rural and metropolitan school districts and see how the new standards and assessments seem to be working. Study the data. Check with students, teachers and administrators to gauge the effectiveness of lessons.

It might seem like a radical idea in this field, but perhaps we should try to educate ourselves before we move ahead.

Comments
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot in her stomac...
Published: 12/08/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

News stories about campus sexual assault often get the question, "Why do schools handle these cases, anyway?"Readers often wonder how universities got tasked with handling these convoluted cases in the first place. Where, they ask, do the police come...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Finalists were announced Tuesday for Hillsborough County Teacher of the year and other honors.Winners will be announced at a banquet on Jan. 16.The finalists for teacher of the year are: Jennifer Jackson, seventh grade science, Stewart Middle; Alexa ...
Published: 12/05/17