TAMPA – Tampa Bay area students, teachers and parents: Your chance to weigh in on the divisive Common Core State Standards is coming up.
The Florida Department of Education will host the first of three public meetings on the standards this month in Tampa.
The meetings aim to gather input from the community on math and English/language arts standards that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The meetings 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.
Meetings will be Oct. 15 in Tampa, Oct. 16 in Davie and Oct. 17 in Tallahassee.
Floridians who are unable to attend are encouraged to submit feedback online, department spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said.
“The intent is to gather information on the standards themselves,” Etters said. “We’re looking for input to help make the standards the best they can be.”
State Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, encourages those who want to give input to focus on providing constructive suggestions of ways to improve the standards “versus some of the extraneous rhetoric that gets sent out in cyberspace that is just not accurate.”
Legg’s office recently asked the public to give input on the standards and received an estimated 100 emails. About one-third of them showed a level of confusion over the standards, said Legg, the Senate’s education chairman and one of the founders of Dayspring Academy charter school in Port Richey.
“The chief inquiry is trying to understand the difference between curriculum and standards,” Legg said. “Standards are benchmarks and curriculum is how you reach those standards. The state and Common Core do not set curriculum. The books they use, the teaching methods they use, all that is left at the local level.”
State Rep. Mark Danish, a Democrat from Tampa with an education background, introduced the Common Core to his seventh-grade science students at Tampa’s Benito Middle School before taking a break from teaching this year to focus on campaigning for next year’s election.
“From what I’ve seen of the standards in science, it’s a very good step forward in getting our kids ready for more rigorous work,” Danish said. “It’s hard for some of the students to get used to because it’s different. But much of it is good because it’s getting students to read, interpret the information and be able to take a side.”
Danish plans to take a better look at the standards at all grade levels, and he encourages Florida parents, teachers, school administrators and other community members to do the same.
“A lot of people are talking about this and they haven’t sat down to look at each grade level,” he said.
Here is the meeting schedule:
Oct. 15, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus in the auditorium of the Student Services building, Room 111, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd.
Oct. 16, 5 to 8 p.m., Broward College’s Davie campus in the Bailey Concert Hall, Building 4, 3501 S.W. Davie Road.
Oct. 17, 5 to 8 p.m., Tallahassee Community College in the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education Auditorium, 1528 Surgeons Drive.
Visit www.flstandards.org to read each standard and submit suggestions, or email [email protected]
All comments must be submitted by Oct. 31 to be considered for review.