In the wake of conservative complaints that the nationwide “common core” standards could be the first step toward a federal takeover of schools, a Republican lawmaker has filed a bill meant to stop the initiative in Florida.
Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, filed House Bill 25 late Wednesday. The measure would require the State Board of Education to meet certain requirements before moving forward with the English and math portions of the standards and specifically bar it from implementing common core in any other subject areas.
Mayfield’s bill would also require the state to pull out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, which is developing tests lined up with common core, and says the board “may not enter into or renew an agreement that cedes to an outside entity control over curricular standards or assessments.”
In an interview Thursday, Mayfield said the intent of the bill was to halt the new standards in Florida.
“We need to stop common core going through,” she said. “We don’t need to be giving up state’s rights.”
The standards, heavily promoted by former Gov. Jeb Bush, have divided the conservative movement about the way forward in education. Bush’s allies say common core will continue the accountability movement that swept the nation in the late 1990s and early 2000s, often pushed by conservative governors.
But opponents say the standards, developed by a partnership of governors and state school officials and promoted by the Obama administration, could eventually lead to federal control of the state’s classrooms. The standards are not a curriculum, as they are sometimes described, but do lay out what students will be expected to know at each grade level.
“We need standards, but we need to be the ones to set them ourselves,” Mayfield said.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, have already pushed for the state to jettison PARCC and instead develop its own tests for common core. But they have not gone as far as Mayfield’s bill, which would be considered during the 2014 legislative session.
Gov. Rick Scott had interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart convene a summit this week in Clearwater to consider several issues, including common core and PARCC. Scott was set to meet Thursday evening in Miami with Bush, State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand and Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican who is close to Bush.
Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters issued a statement Thursday calling for the state to implement common core. It was a rare foray into education policy for the voting-rights organization.
“Let’s ensure Florida joins the ranks of states who say ‘yes’ to higher expectations and an internationally recognized curriculum,” league President Deirdre Macnab said in a news release. “Our children’s futures depend on being a part of this national step forward.”
–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida