“Is this the beginning of the end for our caped crusader?”
Yesterday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered the State of Florida to withdraw from Common Core State Standards assessments and its financial relationship with PARCC. For those who have been watching Florida, this should be no surprise. Scott is concerned with his upcoming re-election. He is reading the tea leaves, particularly with Republicans, that CCSS are unpopular (just look at the growing number of anti-CCSS state groups on Facebook). So for a governor with poor poll numbers, it seems natural that he would take a move that would shore up anti-federal intrusion Republicans who comforting anti-high-stakes teaching Democrats and independents.
So no, we shouldn’t be shocked that Florida’s governor wants out of CCSS testing. But in the online tsunami following his decree, one important piece was overlooked. He didn’t call for Florida to pull out of CCSS itself (yet). Scott has just folded the state’s cards in the assessment game.
The more troubling development seems to be happening west of the Sunshine State in Louisiana. In the Pelican State, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is starting to raise concerns with the CCSS themselves. Using phrases like “federalized curriculum,” Jindal is taking issue with the very standards he helped champion in the early days. Now we have Jindal talking about the need for “Louisiana, not Washington, DC, standards.”
While it makes for some nice red-meat rhetoric, Jindal knows better. These aren’t DC standards. These are national standards, developed in large part by the states themselves, to raise the bar for all kids and help make them all college and career ready, at least in English and math. And if Jindal really wants Louisiana standards, he better look back to the downright pathetic standards the state had just a decade ago, where the goal seemed to be providing all Louisiana students access to a mediocre public education, if they were lucky.
We’ve now reached the point where we are playing some dangerous political games with classroom learning. Scott and Jindal may be scoring points on the campaign trail (or on Jindal’s hopeful road to the White House), but they are both being disingenuous about the issues. Higher standards are important for our more transient student population, and are necessary if we expect all students to graduate from high school college and career ready. And like it or not, we do need assessments that actually measure student progress against those higher standards.
Both of these politicians have their own reasons for doing what they are doing and saying what they are saying. But let’s not read too much into these announcements. No states are required to sign onto CCSS, and Louisiana wouldn’t be the only state not to participate (just ask friends in Texas, Minnesota, or Virginia.) And of the 40-some states that are part of CCSS, they aren’t required to be part of the CCSS assessments. The two consortia are there to help reduce costs on testing by creating a common test that states could then enhance to meet their own needs. If a state like Florida wants to spend significantly more to keep its own test, that is its right.
No, this isn’t the beginning of the end of CCSS. While many “sky is falling” folks will see this as such (particularly those who have distain for CCSS in the first place), this is just the latest bump in the road. Let’s actually get the aligned curriculum in the classroom, let’s give teachers content-based PD, and let’s get the tests up and running before we condemn CCSS to its untimely demise.