Florida seeks to rebrand Common Core

From the News Service of Florida:

TALLAHASSEE – State education officials are pushing forward with a plan to rebrand the standards for what students are expected to learn in Florida schools, hoping to tamp down an uproar among conservative activists who view the current standards as part of a federal takeover of local schools.

Commissioner Stewart
Commissioner Stewart

Almost 100 changes to the “Common Core State Standards” will be considered by the State Board of Education in February, said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who outlined some of the changes to board members during a meeting Tuesday.

“At that time, I think that it is completely appropriate for us to call our standards the ‘Florida Standards,’ ” Stewart said.

Supporters of the guidelines have taken to using the term “Florida Standards” in recent months as some conservatives have continued to decry Common Core. Those benchmarks were crafted by a coalition of officials from about four-dozen states, but have come to be seen by grassroots conservative groups as an example of federal overreach.

Earlier this month, a gathering of the Republican Party of Florida’s state committeemen and committeewomen voted to oppose Common Core, though the resolution is not binding on the GOP and is not expected to be taken up by the party’s executive board.

Stewart said the changes — which include 60 new standards, 37 clarifications and two deletions — and the inclusion of standards beyond the reach of Common Core, which only covers English and math courses, justifies the new name.

“I think when we strengthen our standards, make these standards our own, provide clarification of 37 standards — that clearly is saying that Florida is out on our own, making stronger standards and doing so in a very autonomous way,” she said.

About 52 of the new standards would restore calculus to the state guidelines, though some calculus courses would have been offered regardless. Stewart said the deletions were to get rid of redundant material.

“It’s picked up somewhere else, we don’t really need it and there’s no reason to have repetition,” she said.

John Padget, who said he was not aware when the board approved the math standards that they didn’t include calculus, said he was “overjoyed” at the change.

“I think I’m able to say that Florida Standards, with respect to math, are higher than the so-called Common Core,” he told Stewart.

But it’s not at all clear that the effort to rename the standards will calm groups opposing the benchmarks. A message posted Tuesday on the Facebook page “Floridians Against Common Core Education” slammed Stewart’s changes to “the Communist Core.”

“They really believe we are stupid,” the post says. “This re-branding is meant to make us feel they are doing something for our children.”