Residents speak out against federal education requirements
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A federal education mandate touted as preparing students for college and careers is receiving pushback from local residents and the school district is responding with an informational video series.
During the Indian River County School Board's regular business meeting on April 9, several residents came to the podium to strongly speak out against the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an education reform mandate adopted by Florida and 44 other states.
Schools Superintendent Fran Adams said the online Educational Channel, and TV channel 28, will air a three-part series with local administration and experts discussing what the common core standards are, why they are being implemented and how they fit in to the Indian River County School District.
Speakers said the initiative undermined the 10th amendment, which gives states and the people the powers not specifically given to the federal government, and was another aspect of regionalism that is being pushed in the area by unelected officials.
The common core program focuses on math, science and reading skills, and sets standards for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
By providing clear expectations for all students in the U.S., the standards "promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers," according to the initiative's website.
Speakers called the initiative "anti-American," and said it has destroyed a love of learning in other states where it has been implemented for a longer period of time.
The grading procedures in states like California that have been using common core standards for a couple of years have students working in groups and all students are assigned a grade average based on the performance of others in the group, said Stephanie Austin, a former teacher.
This can be very discouraging to children who currently enjoy excelling and going above and beyond in the classroom, she said.
"Sameness isn't always best in education," said Rosemarie Wilson, another speaker.
Residents also shared their grave concerns for the amount of data that is to be kept on the students, both their academic progress and their personal lives from age 3 to 20.
"Children are not human capital or commodities to be tracked and charted for worth in a global economy," said Ms. Austin.
Other speakers said they had concerns about the amount of radiation exposure students would receive with increased dependence on technology-based instruction, through computers or other wireless devices that rely on Wi-Fi connectivity.
During a round-table discussion earlier in the day, board member Karen Disney-Brombach said there was a lot of misinformation in the community about the initiative.
She said that the standards are very similar to the Next Generation Sunshine State standards.
"It's important that we create a forum so that we can let people know what we know," Ms. Disney-Brombach said.
Cheryl Conley, coordinator of professional development in the curriculum and instruction department, said the video series will cover the history of the standards and how they came about.
For more information about upcoming school board meetings, visit www.indianriverschools.org.