Gov. Rick Scott, FL GOP Face Backlash from Too Small Changes to Common Core

Gov. Rick Scott, FL GOP Face Backlash from Too Small Changes to Common Core

The Florida Department of Education suggested it will only make minor changes to the Common Core standards; however, activists do not think the changes went far enough and want Governor Rick Scott (R) to call for more public hearings.

The education board proposed at least 100 “tweaks” to Common Core. A few include 52 new calculus standards, the concept of money in the first grade, and cursive writing in the fourth grade. The last one is very important because cursive writing was not included in the original Common Core standards when they were implemented in 2010. There has been a fight to bring it back into schools since it was eliminated.

Teachers will introduce cursive writing in the third grade and students will be expected to master it by the fourth and fifth grade. Denise Haymes, a director of elementary and middle school instruction, said cursive never went out but the students learned it in different grades. Parents and teachers countered this and said many of the older students do not have any knowledge of cursive writing. 

There are many reasons why teachers believe students should know to write in cursive:

Students should learn cursive for reasons other than signing their names, said Ed Wolff, a fifth-grade teacher at Belle Terre Elementary in Palm Coast. He pointed to research that shows learning the script can help students develop fine motor skills and perform better in other subjects like math. Wolff said his students are slated to receive district-issued iPads next year, but they’ll mostly use stylus pens, rather than keyboards, so they’ll be able to hone their penmanship skills.

While it is huge they added cursive writing, most against Common Core want the state to do more. On Friday and Saturday, the Florida GOP voted to oppose Common Core. Scott even said they would take back their education from the federal government:

“Here’s what we’re going to ensure: These are Florida standards,” Scott said. “They’re not some national standards; they’re going to be Florida standards. This is our state. We’re not going to have the federal government telling us how to do our education system.”

There are parents and residents who are not happy with him or the education boards after the changes were revealed. Karen Effrem from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and Education Liberty Watch said the standards will not make much of a difference. Laura Zorc, founder of a group against Common Core, said all they did was add standards:

Zorc was disappointed that all of the changes were additions to the standards. She said that’s evidence the state can’t delete portions of Common Core – and therefore Florida doesn’t control its standards.

Others shared Zorc’s feelings:

“There is no meaningful change being proposed,” said Chris Quackenbush, of and a member of the Lee County GOP. “So how can he speak out of one side of his mouth and with his hand he’s doing something entirely different?”