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Curbelo Wrong on Common Core

Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo made a defense of Common Core in the Miami Herald today. The problem is, he makes claims that are not supported by evidence. He might be hoping that the general public will simply swallow the pablum but those of us who know the whole story will not be fooled.

Curbelo claims that the two big reasons to back the diversion of billions of dollars to more standards and more testing are…

1. Combat the growing number of students needing college remediation

2. Combat the skills gap of students as they enter the workforce

Both of these reasons ignore reality and are designed to create the idea of a crisis. Let’s deal with Curbelo’s first point.

Curbelo wants you to believe that we have an abundance of students needing college remediation. What he is unaware of is that two recent studies (Columbia and Harvard) point out that standardized tests are being used incorrectly and the number of students needing remediation is much smaller. Florida is a leader in the misuse of testing.

Florida uses a test called PERT to determine readiness. The problem is that they force students to take this test during the school day. Many students who are not going to college are rounded up and forced to take this test that was never designed to be forced.

Students who want to take this test should be able to, at the community college in a relaxed setting. Florida high schools spent around 80 days testing this year and PERT is just one more students are bullied into taking.

As we also know, the ACT/ SAT are not the best way to judge college readiness. There is a reason why over 800 colleges have stopped using them for college admission.

To sum up this first point, college remediation needs are greatly exaggerated.

Next, Curbelo says there is a skills gap. Actually, there is simply a lack of jobs. As Hal Salzman (Rutgers) recently pointed out in a major study- there is no shortage of qualified workers in STEM areas. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks the US highly for economic competitiveness.  There is no crisis here my friends.

Florida spent billions on the “Next Generation Standards” a few years ago and now Curbelo wants to divert billions more to other standards. The Florida standards are superior to Common Core.

Common Core is test driven and the testing will divert billions more away from real education. Florida high schools test 80 days and Common Core will add to that. The Florida Board wants a half billion dollars for testing infrastructure for next year alone.

The real crisis in Florida (like the nation) is with poverty, violence, and politicians who want to scapegoat schools for the ills of society. Politicians want to use standards and massive testing as political hammers.  It is time to wake up and stop the theft of our money and time.

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