1. The Education Gradebook

Common Core hearings come to an end

Thursday night's third and final public hearing on the Common Core State Standards was far less testy than the one that preceded it.

About 60 people came to the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education Auditorium at Tallahassee Community College to share their thoughts on the new national benchmarks, which are already being taught in schools statewide.

The speakers included parents, grandparents, teachers and taxpayers.

Some made the case for the Common Core.

Wayne Blanton, of the Florida School Boards Association, said the new standards would "help our students be more competitive on a national basis."

He dismissed the idea that the Common Core would remove power from local school boards.

"Common Core standards do not establish a national curriculum, nor do they require that educators teach a specific curriculum," he said. "Local districts, local schools continue to be responsible for the curriculum and the delivery of that curriculum."

Dorina Sackman, an Orange County educator who was named Florida's Teacher of the Year, urged parents to visit their schools and watch the standards being taught.

"See Common Core happening in the classrooms," she said. "It's absolutely wonderful."

Opponents, however, voiced concerns that the standards were poorly written and inappropriate for children in some grade levels.

There were also plenty of swipes at government.

"These standards are just another way for government to control the minds of people," said Carlos Ramirez, who teaches his children in his Tallahassee home. "Common Core seems to me like Common Communism."

Said Victor Hajos, a 75-year-old Tallahassee resident: "The more you get government involved in something, the worse it gets."

Gov. Rick Scott requested the hearings to get public feedback on the Common Core.

State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart took notes throughout the meetings. She plans to deliver a report to the state Board of Education in November.