Thank goodness for the Florida Board of Education, whose members are among the few state leaders more interested in improving public schools and following state law than pandering to a vocal and uninformed minority. The board's unanimous vote Tuesday to reaffirm support for the Common Core State Standards is in sharp contrast to Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders, whose mixed signals have fueled the backlash against the standards set to take effect in 2014-15.
By next September, Florida is supposed to have overhauled how it assesses student performance to align with the internationally referenced Common Core standards. The state should finish implementing its curriculum and select appropriate standardized tests, finally reducing its reliance on the problem-riddled Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test. Such a transition is a huge undertaking even without the political circus state Republican leaders have allowed to fester.
Just this week, the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee — the hometown group of Common Core supporter and former Gov. Jeb Bush — voted to oppose the standards, erroneously calling them an unconstitutional "inappropriate overreach" of federal government. The standards are actually a product of a multistate alliance started by the bipartisan National Governors Association. What's more, the standards are a list of goals of what students should learn. It is up to each state to decide how to implement those standards, including which tests and curriculum to use.
Six weeks ago, after another education commissioner departed under a cloud, it appeared the governor was finally getting the message he needed to advocate for better public schools. Then he didn't show up for the three-day education summit he called, and now he's rumored to be considering issuing an executive order related to Common Core. There's just one problem: State law gives the Board of Education the oversight of public schools. This week, the board demonstrated it is still doing its job of looking out for schoolchildren. Now if the rest of Florida's political leadership could only do the same.