FL state Sen. John Legg on Common Core, PARCC, school choice & more

Sen. John Legg
Sen. John Legg

One of Florida’s top education leaders offered a strong defense of Common Core Wednesday, saying while legitimate concerns exist “we cannot let political rhetoric and emotion impede us from implementing rigorous standards and high expectations for students.”

The comments from state Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, the influential chair of the Senate Education Committee, came during a live chat here on the redefinED blog. It’s no surprise Legg supports Common Core. But his latest comments suggested that some of Florida’s key players on education policy – most of them Republicans – are standing firm on Common Core despite heated resistance from the party’s tea party wing.

Asked about how much pushback he had received, Legg wrote this: “When we isolate the discussion to the actual standards, I don’t feel much pushback. I have found that conservatives are passionate about their beliefs, myself included. Once we have a chance to lay out the facts and separate facts from anecdotes, most of my conservative colleagues embrace rigorous standards, accountability and school choice options for families. I like to paraphrase a quote I remember from Benjamin Franklin that goes something like, ‘Passion governs, and she rarely governs wisely.’ “

Legg also wrote that he does not think Common Core will undermine school choice: “I strongly believe our high, rigorous standards will challenge all students and schools to improve performance. If that does occur, there would be more pressure on our school choice providers to become more innovative in order to compete.”

Legg also answered questions from us and from readers about the PARCC exams tied to Common Core, charter schools and funding for the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program. To see the full transcript of questions and answers from the chat, just click into the program below.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director of Research & Special Projects at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times).