Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Truth, lies and standards

Reasonable people can disagree about the direction of public school reform. But reasonable people don't misconstrue facts or invent falsehoods. Three recent Florida public hearings reaffirmed that much of the assault on Common Core State Standards is based on ignorance or lies. And by pandering to a vocal minority spreading incorrect information, Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders are further undermining the drive for better public schools. Instead of playing politics, Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz should be informing the public about Common Core so educators can get on with the business of improving public schools.

The hearings initiated by the governor follow two other developments that signal Scott and legislative leaders are cooling on Common Core just four years after the state embraced the standards and as schools statewide are implementing them. The state Board of Education, at Scott's request, has declined to endorse supplemental support materials — a purely political decision since school districts would not have been required to use them. And earlier this year, Scott, with the blessing of Weatherford and Gaetz, forced the state to withdraw from a multistate group focused on building the standardized tests to align with Common Core standards.

The public hearings just confirmed the governor is more interested in appealing to his tea party base than improving education. At the hearings in Tampa, Davie and Tallahassee, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart opted to listen as speakers miscast the program established by the National Governors Association (not the federal government) and now embraced by 45 states.

Among the false claims: Teachers weren't involved in developing Common Core; English teachers would have to spend half their instructional reading time on nonfiction texts; the government would be collecting dramatically more information on individual students; and Common Core would be used to promote religious and political beliefs to students. PolitiFact Florida gave all four statements false ratings.

There are reasonable concerns when it comes to the implementation of Common Core — such as ensuring standardized assessments don't take too much time from instruction. Indeed, educators have warned for years that the transition to the new standards would be rocky even before the backlash grew. But rather than put their energy where it would do the most good for Florida's children — by fostering constructive debate on how to improve the implementation — the governor, House speaker and Senate president are enabling a campaign based in falsehoods. That's not leadership, and the big losers are Florida's students.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18