John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida
Common Core protestors at February's State Board of Education Meeting in Orlando. They aren't giving up, but lawmakers say the conversation about Common Core is moving on.
Sondra Hulette and her granddaughter joined dozens of anti-Common Core protestors as they circled a fountain outside the Orange County school district offices last month.
Inside the building, the State Board of Education was about to rename Common Core as “The Florida Standards.” But outside, Hulette and others chanted “Stop Common Core!” “Keep education local!” and “Follow the money!”
Common Core are math and language arts standards adopted by Florida and 44 other states. They outline what students should know at the end of each grade.
But Hulette and many others oppose the standards because they are concerned about losing local control over classroom decisions, cost and other factors.
Hulette’s granddaughter is homeschooled, but she worries college placement exams are being written to the standards. And that would force parents of homeschooled students to address the standards or possibly leave their kids unprepared for the exams.
“I don’t want what’s happening in the public school to infiltrate what I have the authority over as homeschoolers,” Hulette said. “It’s going to impose some things on her that are illogical.”
Opposition to the standards has dominated Florida’s education conversation the past year, but Christina Phillips’ sixth grade language arts students at Monroe Middle School in Tampa wouldn’t know that from their school work. Phillips’ lessons have been Common Core-based for the past two years.
Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report
Casi Adkinson, a teacher at West Defuniak Elementary listens as a student explains her answer during morning group work.
In Defuniak Springs in Florida’s panhandle, the third graders at West Defuniak Elementary are learning division.
Specifically, 72 divided by six. Their teacher, Casi Adkinson drew circles onto the board.
“I share my 72 into my six circles,” Adkinson said. “Are we ready to do that together? Ready? 1,2,3,4,5…”
With the class counting along, Adkinson drew 72 marks, grouped into six separate circles.
“Ok, I shared my 72,” she said. “What do I do next? Alaya?
“Oh! You count how many there are in the six circles,” Alaya said.
By the time the lesson is over, the class finished only four problems.
“I know to some people, they might think ‘that’s not many problems, I’d want to cover 20,’” Adkinson said. “It doesn’t matter if you cover 20 problems if they don’t understand why they’re doing it.”
The idea of ‘less is more’ has permeated West Defuniak Elementary since 2011. That’s when the school began to phase in the new Common Core standards with its youngest students.
Joe Raedle / Getty News Images
Parents and students protest outside then-Gov. Jeb Bush's Miami office in this 2003 photo.
At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting, Orlando mom Andrea Rediske scolded members for state and federal rules requiring standardized testing.
Rediske’s son, Ethan, recently became a national story because Andrea Rediske was forced to submit a testing waiver as her dying son was in a morphine coma.
Tuesday, she sought support for the Ethan Rediske Act, or HB 895, which would exempt students from state standardized tests if parents, special educators and school superintendents could prove a medical need to skip the test.
“This incident caused anguish to my family,” Rediske told the board, “and shows a stunning lack of compassion and even common sense on the part of the Department of Education.
“You may ask yourselves: ‘If this is such a problem why isn’t there more public outcry from the parents of disabled children?’ I am here to tell you why. Parents of severely disabled children are exhausted. We spend our lives keeping these children alive.”
Click the link to listen to Rediske.
You can read the full bill after the jump:
Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida
Senate President Don Gaetz doesn't want in-state tuition for undocumented residents. He does like the idea of university performance funding.
Florida’s move toward Common Core standards in schools is sure to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.
Lawmakers will also consider allowing undocumented college students to pay cheaper, in-state tuition. Plus, state universities that improve their graduation rates may be able to boost their funding.
Senate President Don Gaetz sat down with StateImpact Florida to talk about some of the biggest education issues for lawmakers this spring, including what kind of test will replace the FCAT.
Q: Florida is in the process of implementing Common Core standards. The state still hasn’t determined how students will be assessed on what they’ve learned. Plus, you still have critics who say this a national take over of education. You’ve said you would not support legislation to repeal common core. But are there any plans to change it this year?
A: When you look at materials used to teach students, that’s where some of the criticism has come in. So there’s legislation that would make clear that the selection of instructional materials is up to the local school board.
Then there’s the issue of assessment. Speaker Weatherford and I last year wrote to the Department of Education and said get Florida out of Common Core PARCC.
There’s an enormous push in Florida right now to grab more of the innovation economy, but we’re not the only state making a play for this sector. The competition nationally is fierce. Cities like St. Louis, Charlotte, and Phoenix have made bigger strides when it comes to growing as tech hubs.
courtesy Girls Who Code
There are fewer women in computer science.
So local business leaders and policy makers are tackling issues to bring and keep startups here. One is growing the local talent pool for the future. Theories about Silicon Valley’s success always include the presence of Stanford University and its ecosystem. An educated workforce matters.
Now, a national nonprofit called Girls Who Code is working to grow the next generation of STEM–science, technology, engineering and math–stars in South Florida. The organization is rolling out its computer science immersion program for the first time in Miami this summer. Seven weeks, seven-hour days in the classroom (that doesn’t include homework). Continue Reading
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida permalink
Lincoln High School history teacher Stephen Veliz had his first breakthrough using technology in the classroom when he had his sixth grade students blog.