The conversation about Common Core standards hit a fever pitch in Florida last week. The new, tougher education standards have been adopted by 45 states. But last month, Governor Rick Scott started to distance Florida from the Common Core and the proposed standardized tests that go with it.
Scott asked the Florida Department of Education to hold a series of listening sessions about the Common Core. Three different hearings were held across Florida last week.
On Tuesday Education Commissioner Pam Stewart took her seat at a table on the stage in Tampa. Wednesday it was the stage at Broward College in South Florida Thursday it was a conference room in Tallahassee.
She laid the ground rules for the hearings. Each speaker with a numbered card had 4 minutes at the mic. There were a few more housekeeping items—acknowledgements of politicians and superintendents in the room, an update on recent board resolutions. And then, she listened.
For more than 13 hours over three nights, she listened. There were voices of support for the common core, and voices of skepticism. About 750 people showed up to the meetings. And that’s not counting the more than 7,000 comments that came in online.
Between listening sessions, Stewart reflected on what she’d been hearing.
Stewart: "I think one of the biggest themes was that folks are concerned about data mining and we certainly want to do everything we can ensure that that does not happen", Stewart said.
Sammy: "I heard a lot of people equating common core to Marxism, Socialism, Communism - what do you make of that?"
Stewart: "I suspect that those individuals have not looked at the actual standards or are seeing some content that maybe has something in it that is unrelated to the common core."
Stewart says also heard encouragement.
"I think what came alive in some of those stories that were told were that students were much more engaged", said Stewart.
The department of education is still listening; feedback is welcome online through the end of the month.