FCATs heading out, Common Core moving in: What does it mean for Florida students?

Florida’s public schools have already begun phasing in the newly adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with kindergartners this school year, signaling an end to the FCATs within the next few years for students at all levels.  This news has many parents, educators and students rejoicing; however, others are skeptical and wonder if this isn’t just going to be continued standardized testing under a new acronym.  The only way to find out if students are learning what they’re expected to learn is to test them in some way, so testing will still exist.  However, supporters of the CCSS say these tests will be “tests worth teaching to.”

The CCSS is a K-12 state-led effort (not a government mandate) coordinated by the nation’s leading experts in education and developed in collaboration with teachers and school administrators “to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.”  The goal of the CCSS is to raise the bar in education nationwide, making our children better able to compete at the international level and providing consistent benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.  Could it really be true that Florida’s public education system may soon no longer have to suffer the burden of being in the lower ranks compared to its counterparts nationwide? 

How could Florida’s parents and educators not want this hope for our children?  Are there other issues within our public schools that will ultimately prevent these new standards from achieving all that they propose?  Check it out for yourself at The Village Square‘s discussion on the topic in our “Get Local” Florida section of our We the Wiki website. Feel free to add to it, too — additional sources, fact checks, even write an op-ed. Remember, the content of our Wiki is made greater by factual, civil, diverse contributions from people like you.  So, go ahead — check it out.  And if you’re a first-time user, be sure to check out the Tools & Tips page, too.  If you have trouble with the site using Internet Explorer, try switching over to Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Then you can switch over to the fully editable Tallahassee Wiki to take a look at the various schools around town and even add a page/info for your favorite school.  Just search the school or type of school you’re looking for to get started (here are our pages on elementary, middle, high, private and charter schools).

Justice O’Connor on civility and civics education

“I believe that we are at a critical point in our nation’s history. We face difficult challenges at home and abroad. Meanwhile, divisive rhetoric and a culture of sound bites threaten to drown out rational dialogue and debate. We cannot afford to continue to neglect the preparation of future generations for active and informed citizenship.” –Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, The Sacramento Bee

(Thanks to Tanja for sending this our way.)

FloridaThinks: A little too much free speech?

Apparently the Florida House passed a bill this session as a response to a consent decree the ACLU got Santa Rosa County school system to sign prohibiting prayer and religious activities by students and staff at school events. FloridaThinks has a fascinating story today on the potential unintended consequences of the bill:

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Association in Washington, D.C., says the legislation may unshackle student newspapers from the usual oversight of school administrators, effectively putting Florida among seven states – none in the Southeast – that have passed laws endorsing free expression for students. Student papers running frank discussions of sex on campus, drug-use, and other provocative topics usually face few restrictions in the states that have approved such laws, LoMonte says.

Read the whole article HERE.

Tackling Florida’s Fiscal Storm: Invest in educating a well-paid workforce


“I think we need to bring education funding back up. If we’re going to be competitive economically, we have to have a world class education system. We had a very conservative governor who thought education was important and thought that a 72 billion dollar education budget was necessary for this state. Now we’ve cut down to the low 60’s. We’ve cut too low and we must bring it back.” –State Senator Thad Altman (R- Melbourne)

On seeking a higher education: “Because if you think in your own families, your own lives, who was the first person in your family, the very first, who decided they would seek higher education? Maybe it was you, maybe it will be your children, maybe it was your father or your grandfather or mother or grandmother. But the moment that Rubicon was crossed, the moment that someone in your family decided they were going to advance themselves to a different level, your entire family changed, forever. And guess what? So did your community, when it happens in multiples and so did your city.and so did your county and your state and your nation.” –State Senator Dan Gelber (D- Miami Beach)