Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order “repealing the Common Core” standards. In practice that meant he tasked Richard Corcoran, Florida’s chief educator, with figuring out how to do that exactly.
It’s not as simple as declaring Common Core dead. Governor Rick Scott already took care of scrubbing any reference of Common Core from Florida law and from the Florida Department of Education. But since the new way of teaching math is still weird for some parents and there’s still a perceived connection to the Obama administration going all Marlon Brando on us and making states an ‘offer they couldn’t refuse,’ DeSantis needs to help Florida get past its fixation on the Common Core standards. He needs to help them pivot to the thing that really annoys them, which, more often than not, is the way some teachers teach (or are asked to teach) and the materials students use in their classrooms.
Enter the survey.
This morning, I got a press release in my inbox announcing a survey where any Floridian, ostensibly, can look at each standard and give the state some much-needed feedback.
For each standard, Corcoran and the people’s education department want you to say if you would:
- Eliminate the standard. (If you choose this option, a comment is required to explain why)
- Revise the standard. (Again, a comment would be required, this time saying how.)
- Move the standard (Be ready to say which grade level you’d move it to and why.)
- Make no change. (In this case, no comment is required.)
This is fantastic. I’ve knocked DeSantis a bit over his move (and earlier, in his campaign efforts) to get rid of Common Core in Florida. After all, I argued, which standards do people actually have a problem with? Name one! Now the education department is asking you and me to do the same thing.
Based on countless conversations I’ve had about this and after reading who-knows-how-many articles, my hunch is that people really don’t have a problem with the standards.
For example, the first question for Kindergarten English Language Arts Standard is “(LAFS.1.RL.1.1) Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.” There are several standards to consider for each grade in reading and math. It’ll take you some time, but this is a worthy exercise, especially if you’re one that’s been cheering for the demise of the Common Core.
The result of this standards survey will be like having the state of Florida put on glasses so they can finally see that it’s not the actual standards they have an issue with (for the most part), but something else. I think it will help people see the difference between the goals that we’re striving for in our education system (AKA: Standards) and the methods and materials teachers and schools use to reach those goals.
My guess is that everyone will finally understand that that most, if not all politically skewed content isn’t coming from the standards themselves. But you don’t have to take my word for it, as Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton used to tell me in the 80s. Go look for yourself. Prove me wrong. I dare you.
What excites me most about this survey is that when we finally come face-to-face with what it would mean to actually change the standards, then maybe we can focus on the real problems facing our education system and let the Common Core boogie man dissolve into the mists of our imagination.