Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Standards set, now get assessments right

The state Board of Education stood for academic excellence by unanimously reconfirming its support for the Common Core State Standards with reasonable changes for the Sunshine State. This should put to rest a monthslong disinformation campaign by conservative critics aimed more at ginning up dissent than improving Florida's public schools. Now the challenge is implementation and assessment, which the Legislature could improve upon by insisting school districts and teachers have more time to adjust to new curriculum and tests. Getting this transition right is more important than meeting arbitrary deadlines set four years ago.

In Florida, Common Core will now be known as the Florida Standards, a formal acknowledgment that the state has tweaked parts of the system of benchmarks to reflect its own priorities — such as continuing to teach cursive writing and better lining up math standards with current instructional timelines. The governor-appointed education board unanimously approved the changes Tuesday in Orlando, even as its members were stared down by a sometimes-booing, heckling crowd. The protesters continued to repeat the canard that Common Core is a federal government idea, when actually it was the states, through the bipartisan National Governors Association, that sought to set the bar higher for American students amid the emerging global economy. Florida is one of 45 states that has embraced the effort.

Now state leaders' responsibility is to shift their focus to successful implementation. Just as they found a need to adjust the benchmarks, they should also be willing to adjust what has become an overly ambitious timeline. The situation was created in part because Republican legislative leaders, in a misguided and unsuccessful effort to appease tea party critics, pushed the state to back out of a national consortium developing the tests. Now Florida is barreling toward using new tests in 2014-15 despite not yet picking a testing company to design them, leaving little time for vetting, much less field-testing, the exams.

The rush has prompted the state's superintendents, the teachers union and the Florida PTA to request the state suspend the state's school grading system next year. Instead, the Board of Education indicated support for Education Commissioner Pam Stewart's proposed charade of continuing school grades for 2014-15 with no consequences — just to keep the string going. That would further erode public confidence in a grading system that already is discredited.

Florida should take a cue from New York, one of the earliest adopters of the Common Core State Standards. The New York Times reported this week that the state is finding supporters are turning into critics, not because of the standards but because of the way the state has chosen to implement them — by rushing ahead and testing students before they had appropriate assessments. Florida is now contemplating the same thing.

The Board of Education stood for high standards on Tuesday. Now the Legislature should set aside a discredited accountability system in favor of one that gives school districts ample time to implement the new Florida Standards.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18