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Florida education belongs in hands of state

Guest Columnist

Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 18:10

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, certainly used to criticism, was subjected to even more during the past week due to his controversial decision related to Common Core State Standards. The program seeks to create nationwide standards for the country’s public education system and does so by creating common curriculum and testing procedures.

Though some assert that Scott has withdrawn Florida from the program completely, this is far from true. In reality, all Scott ordered was that Florida withdraw from the nationwide tests, not the standardized curriculum. The governor had been facing criticism from many conservative groups that feared that the organization in charge of the tests, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, would put too much government overreach into Florida’s school system.

Scott’s order is being presented as a compromise to appease both sides of the aisle, no doubt to give him a talking point for what will be an extremely difficult re-election campaign, but the decision does not accomplish much. If Florida is to keep the nationwide curriculum standards, then why would we withdraw from the tests?

The reasoning that eliminating the testing prevents government overreach is far from true; only abolishing the curriculum will prevent overreach.

If a federal organization had the responsibility to instruct teachers on what information they should be presenting to their students, Florida students from kindergarten to 12th grade will still be learning what the federal government thinks they should — regardless of whether they are tested on the material.

Instead of focusing on his re-election chances, Scott should remove Florida from nationwide standards completely.

Regardless of party affiliation, most parents would agree that they know what is best for their children, and can work with their state legislators and local school districts to develop a curriculum that is best suited for their communities. Though the federal government may have the funding necessary to attempt such an immense goal, it’s easy to see how difficult it would be to do so, and it simply cannot create the positive changes it wishes to see.

Instead of dictating what every child should learn, Washington should take a step back and let states seek inspiration within their own borders. States recognize the need for improving education, but they cannot make the changes they need to because the economy is not healthy enough for them to do so.

Improve the economy, and you can hire more teachers. Hire more teachers, and you get smaller classroom sizes. That results in more personalized instruction, which can speed up the process and help states, such as Florida, that are falling behind to get back on the right track. With all of the industries that call Florida their home, it’s important to have an educated citizenry to fill the positions these industries call for and to give Florida jobs to Floridians.

Therefore, on behalf of all Floridians, please do not allow Common Core to set our state’s standards, Gov. Scott. No federal government agency is capable of knowing what we need better than Floridians ourselves. This is not only a matter of an infringement on states’ rights, but a matter of common sense as well. Please return control to our state officials, to our school district superintendents, our teachers, our parents and our community. Let the federal government fix itself before it tries to tell us how we run any aspect of our state. Let us be an example of success to other states, not by Washington’s example, but by Floridians leading Floridians.  

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