Ron DeSantis doesn’t have much of a plan for education in Florida, but he’s made two things clear: He wants to “repeal the Common Core” and teach civic literacy in our schools.
Technically, there is no Common Core in Florida, but it’s true that our current academic standards largely borrowed from them, so I’ll take his point. But there are two problems with his positions on education.
First, our standards in Florida are objectively good, so repealing them would risk making them worse, according to a study by the conservative Fordham Institute. Second, the standards already call for teaching civic literacy in schools. Repealing them would work against his second priority.
Our Common-Core-Based Standards Are Good
Under Governor Rick Scott’s leadership, Florida reviewed the Common Core standards, and changed them in ways we as Florida residents could feel good about. As it turns out, after hearing from teachers and others, the Florida Department of Education recommended less than 50 changes to the English and Math standards among thousands of standards spanning grades K-12. The most notable were adding in cursive and calculus.
In other words, when we looked at the so-called “brainwashing” standards we realized they weren’t so scary after all. Actually they were pretty good.
Further confirmation came earlier this week when the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report evaluating standards across the nation. Two teams of subject-matter experts, including teachers, reviewed the English Language Arts and Math standards.
In a nutshell, these independent reviewers found that the states that generally stuck with the Common Core had “strong standards,” the kind of standards that would drive good academic instruction and achievement.
For states that made significant changes or left the Common Core altogether, it was a crapshoot. Some states like Indiana, Kansas, New York, North Carolina and others did “good”—reviewers recommended only a few changes. But other states like Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee needed “significant revisions.” Missouri and Virginia earned a label of inadequate. They should just start over.
We Already Teach Civic Literacy
Ironically, the standards DeSantis says he wants to repeal actually have a lot to say about civic literacy. Here are some examples from 7th grade “Civics and Government” standards:
Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and purposes of government, law and the American political system:
- Analyze the ideas (natural rights, role of the government) and complaints set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
- Describe how the Constitution limits the powers of government through separation of powers and checks and balances.
Define the rule of law and recognize its influence on the development of the American legal, political, and government systems:
- Evaluate the roles, rights, and responsibilities of the United States citizens, and determine methods of active participation in society, government, and the political system.
- Define the term “citizen” and identify legal means of becoming a United States citizen.
- Evaluate the obligation citizens have to obey laws, pay taxes, defend the nation and serve on juries.
- Evaluate the rights contained in the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution.
I could go on, but you get the picture. In fact, you can read all of them on your phone if you download this app.
You should do it. DeSantis should too!
That way people will know what they’re talking about when they say we should repeal the standards and add civics to our public education system.