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Florida Board Votes to Back Away From Common-Core Appendices

By guest blogger Andrew Ujifusa. Cross-posted from State EdWatch.

In another sign of increasing caution in Florida regarding the Common Core State Standards, the state board of education voted Oct. 15 not to adopt the suggestions regarding student writing and how to structure math classes contained in the standards' appendices, as well as reading "exemplars" (suggestions) that acompany the standards. In short, none of the appendices attached to the common core won't have Florida's official support.

The board voted 5-1 vote against the appendices, Kathleen McGrory at the Miami Herald reported, although it's important to point out that the decision does not specifically prohibit individual districts from using these resources. McGrory reported that the vote came at the request of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who announced last month that the state was withdrawing from a multistate consortium developing common-core-aligned tests and would seek out new assessments on its own, although as I've reported, technically the state has only reduced its role in the consortium, not left it altogether.

The reading suggestions in particular have come under fire over the past few months in other states, such as Alabama and Georgia, where critics of the common core have highlighted suggested books  they say deal with subject matter in an inappropriate political fashion (Julia Alvarez's In the Time of Butterflies) or convey sexuality in an offensive way (Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye). So for a state where the common core appears to be on shakier ground than it did a year ago, it's not surprising that Florida has also turned its attention to these aspects of the common core and decided to toss them overboard, at least from a state policy perspective.

Remember, one sign that the common core's support might be very shaky is that in his letter to Gary Chartrand, chairman of the Florida state board, Scott claimed it was not important whether officials supported or opposed the standards themselves. It will be interesting to see whether the state's public review of the standards, which was also initiated by Scott, inflames or soothes passions surrounding the common core.

This kind of activity aimed at the supplemental aspects of the standards might point to an increase in legislative activity against the common core in states when state lawmakers meet next year. There's a 2014 bill in Florida that would stop common-core implementation pending further review, although just what chance of success it has is unclear, and of course there's already a common-core review underway in the state.

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