Newly-elected Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has wasted no time getting down to business in the Sunshine State. In one of his first major acts as governor, DeSantis announced Thursday that it was time for the state to eliminate the abysmal Common Core standards in favor of a new system that works in favor of teachers and students.
“I’m here to say when you complained about Common Core, I hear you, I told you I’d do something about it, and today we are acting to bring those promises into a reality,” DeSantis said.
While Florida schools do not strictly abide by the Common Core standards themselves, the off-branded “Florida Standards” are mostly different in name alone. By taking action to eliminate those standards and start from scratch, DeSantis is moving away from the nationalized, standardized education policies that were championed during the Obama years. In so doing, he is giving everyone from educators to parents greater say in what Florida schools should be teaching and requiring from their students.
“You would have situations where the parents did not like some of the curriculum, I mean they had trouble even doing basic math to help their kids,” DeSantis said. “With Common Core a lot of people just didn’t feel like anyone was listening to them, and I think that’s a big, big problem.”
Common Core standards, rolled out early on in the Obama administration years, have ultimately been adopted by more than 40 U.S. states. The standards set uniform proficiency benchmarks from kindergarten to the 12th grade, and were championed as a way to make sure every student from every state was learning at the same rate.
But while the standards were actually proposed and adopted by a coalition of state governors, conservatives heard in this scheme the hallmarks of federalization. Common Core soon became a poisonous brand to many on the right, to say nothing of apolitical parents and teachers who were concerned about what all of this testing really had to do with education. Put that together with the advent of some very peculiar new ideas about how to teach certain subjects – especially math – and the stage was set for a grassroots revolt.
Complaints about Common Core have quieted in recent years, however, which makes DeSantis’ move against them all the more remarkable. If a Republican had taken this step five years ago, you could reasonably accuse him of staging a political stunt. For DeSantis to do this now, after much of the heat has dissipated, shows that he has taken a close look at what these standards have – and more importantly, have not – done for Florida schools, and he’s willing to take a risk on a different approach.
Hopefully, that approach will reap dividends, and we can start making serious gains in our public schools on a nationwide basis.