Gov. Rick Scott defended his decision to withdraw from tests linked to setting up a national set of educational standards, while a state lawmaker filed a bill addressing a common concern about the standards.
In his first public comments on the move, Scott on Tuesday explained why he ordered the Department of Education to stop managing the financial affairs of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, of PARCC, which is developing the tests.
It was seen as a first step toward Florida trying to develop its own tests to measure student learning gains under the “Common Core” standards that Florida and almost four dozen other states have agreed to use.
Scott maintained his stance that using PARCC would allow the federal government to meddle in the state’s schools.
“If you look at it, it’s their entry point into having more involvement in our education system,” Scott told reporters. “I want to continue that focus on high standards, but we don’t need the federal government intruding in our lives.”
When pressed, Scott did not say specifically how he thought tests developed through a state-led initiative could be an instrument of federal intrusion, or cite an example of federal intrusion through PARCC. The group has received a $186 million federal grant for its work on the tests, but the state Department of Education has issued statements dismissing as a myth the idea of PARCC being used for federal control of education.
“The federal government does not have a hand in development of the aligned assessments pertaining to CCSS,” according to an undated document on the agency’s website. “There are two state consortia responsible for developing Common Core aligned assessments as well as some states that have developed their own assessment programs, such as Kentucky and New York.”
The document is entitled, “Demystifying the Movement: Answers to Common Myths about the Common Core State Standards.” (See below.)
During his press conference Tuesday, Scott also appeared to hedge when asked whether his logic could be used to get rid of the Common Core standards themselves.
“A lot of people want to say, is it ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Common Core, and that’s not the right way of looking at it,” he said. “It’s ‘yes’ to high standards — and we’re going to continue to have high standards and raise our standards, because that’s what’s going to pay off in a global economy — but we’re going to say ‘no,’ we’re going to continue to say ‘no’ to federal intrusion.”
Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant issued a statement Tuesday lambasting Scott for the move.
“The bipartisan consensus around high standards and common-sense testing is strong, it is what Floridians want, and it is what Common Core provided,” she said. “But, like so many times before, Florida’s students, teachers, and parents are collateral damage of Rick Scott’s Tea Party pandering.”
Scott also faced some withering criticism from editorial boards. “The only thing worse than leaving the group designing the tests is opening the door to rejecting the Common Core State Standards themselves,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote. “Scott did just that by demanding that the state reject samples of writing and math courses aimed at helping implement the standards, calling for more public input and inviting changes to Common Core standards the state embraced several years ago. Scott insists he supports high education standards. But his actions Monday have nothing to do with improving public education and everything to do with politics — and they won’t satisfy tea party supporters who won’t rest until Florida rejects all of Common Core. Just last week, the state Board of Education reaffirmed its support for the Common Core Standards. Now the governor has signaled it’s fine to trash them.”
The Miami Herald wrote: “Unfortunately, tea party elements of the Republican Party have twisted Common Core and PARCC into some kind of federal assault on states’ rights, arguing that it’s another federal government ‘mandate,’ with Scott giving in to the misinformation. ” Instead of flexing his executive muscle and showing the kind of leadership Floridians would expect of one who purports to be an ‘Education Governor,’ Mr. Scott is talking namby-pamby about an executive order to change the hard work that has been done over several years.”
Hukill said in a news release that the issue needs to be addressed because of schools collecting biometric information that could be used for such purposes as paying for lunches, recording attendance and boarding school buses.
“Students need to understand from an early age that protecting their personal data is important,” Hukill said in a statement. “Securing and protecting students’ personal data is a sensitive matter and we need to have procedures and safeguards in place.”
Supporters of Common Core have dismissed the idea that it will collect biometric information.
–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida, and FlaglerLive