By Zachary Blackwell
Elm Staff Writer
Common Core, a set of educational standards in mathematics and English-language arts for students from kindergarten to grade 12, may be eliminated in Florida as a result of an executive order announced by its new governor, Ron DeSantis.
Saying that the state should do away with “the vestiges of Common Core,” DeSantis wants the entire Common Core curriculum to be replaced.
“We stuck with Common Core then we re-branded it…it’s all the same. It all needs to be looked at, it all needs to be scrutinized,” DeSantis has said. DeSantis has also asked Florida’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, “to spend a year creating new state curriculum standards, which would then be presented to the Legislature for the 2020 session,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
This has not been the first time that Florida has decided to make changes to the Common Core curriculum. The state initially adopted Common Core in 2010, but altered and renamed those standards in 2014, when they became known as “Florida Standards.”
Not everyone in the state has been happy with Common Core’s implementation in Florida’s public schools. The opponents of Common Core have disliked what they see as “the federal government’s illegal intrusion into public education, a push toward even more high-stakes testing and a move toward developmentally inappropriate lessons, among other problems,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The potential replacement of Common Core standards is risky, not only because of the benefits/downsides for students, educators, and parents, but also because of the monetary costs. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, “the federal government encouraged states to adopt the standards with its Race to the Top grant, a program that awarded Florida $700 million in federal money.” It should be noted that if Florida abandons Common Core, it must pay for new standardized tests for its curriculum, and it would also have to spend precious time and resources developing these new standards.
Common Core has been a controversial program nationwide since it was introduced. Although the curriculum has been designed to help students prepare for college and their careers, it has also been criticized because of how tied it is to standardized tests. It is the prioritization of standardized test scores over learning in the classroom that concerns me.
Common Core is well-intentioned, but it doesn’t focus enough on giving students knowledge, as opposed to shaping information that students must learn around tests. Tests are important, but they shouldn’t be the main incentive for students to learn, or for teachers and parents to instruct.
Florida has a difficult situation to address. There are good reasons to keep Common Core around. The federal grant from implementing Common Core has provided money that has gone toward improving public school systems.
Ultimately, however, Common Core is an inflexible system that tries to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to education, when the needs of every individual school, teacher, or student aren’t all the same. Even if Florida does not decide to remove Common Core outright, it’s encouraging that the education system is being put under a magnifying lens, so that needed improvements and how to best implement them are considered by a wide audience of people.