TAMPA – As state education officials roll into town Tuesday for the first in a series of public hearings on the Common Core State Standards, opponents will host press conferences and a rally throughout the day in an attempt to slow down the standards.
The Tampa hearing – as well as two more in Davie and Tallahassee on Wednesday and Thursday – were scheduled after Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order for the state to pull out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a testing consortium tied to the standards.
Attendees will fill out speaker cards if they want to make public comments or provide hard copies of their feedback.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the new math and English language arts standards, which are a set of benchmarks students are expected to reach as they complete each grade until they graduate from high school.
Florida adopted the Common Core standards in 2010. Since then, opposition has risen. Some believe the standards amount to overreach of the federal government and some fear they will bring about an even greater emphasis on high-stakes testing.
At 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition will host a press conference in front of the Hillsborough County School Board’s headquarters, 901 E. Kennedy Blvd. Also participating will be the Tampa Tea Party, Tampa 9/12 and Community Issues Council.
“We are going to be talking about parental rights and the fact that there are so many people in Florida that are against Common Core,” said Chrissy Blevio, the coalition’s grassroots director. “It is the biggest issue in Florida.”
Blevio said the coalition believes the implementation of the standards is federal takeover of the state’s education system.
“We really believe education belongs in local control,” she said. “It’s just the federal government usurping one more state responsibility.”
Blevio and other coalition representatives plan to head over to Hillsborough Community College Tuesday afternoon to hand out information and “Stop Common Core” stickers before the public hearing begins.
The coalition argues that three public hearings across the state is not enough and that they are too short, with three minutes allotted to each speaker.
“Parents, when they learn about Common Core, are extremely concerned,” she said. “The bottom line is parents are still the authority of their children. If parents in Florida don’t want this, the legislators should be glad to do what the parents want them to do.”
At 1:45 p.m., Stop Common Core Florida will host a press conference after a state Board of Education meeting in the Duval Room at the Tampa Airport Marriott hotel.
The group also will lead a 4 p.m. rally at Hillsborough Community College before the hearing.
Chris Quackenbush, co-founder of the group, said the purpose of the conference and rally is to answer questions.
Sandra Stotsky, a former associate commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education who was in charge of revising state standards, and Ze’ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education senior policy adviser, will summarize the group’s concern during the public hearing.
“I’m hoping for a miracle of miracles that they actually listen,” Quackenbush said.
Tuesday’s meeting will last from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Student Services building on Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus. People can watch the webcast live on the www.thefloridachannel.org by clicking here.
Anyone who is unable to attend can submit feedback at www.flstandards.org by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments must be submitted by Oct. 31 to be considered.
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said Monday that the Florida Department of Education has already received more than 4,000 comments and suggestions from teachers, parents, administrators and members of the public about the standards.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we have received and we look forward to continuing this transparent and open process for the public to provide input on the standards,” Stewart said in a news release.