LAND O’ LAKES — As controversy swirls around Common Core State Standards, Pasco County school district officials are trying to bat down as much misinformation as they can while reiterating their support for the new national academic standards that Florida schools are implementing.
“One of the rumors out there is we are not going to be reading ‘Huck Finn’ or ‘Tom Sawyer’ anymore,” Superintendent Kurt Browning said Tuesday at a school board workshop. “That’s not true. Common Core doesn’t set the reading list.”
Browning and his staff met with school board members to help prepare them for when they field questions from parents or speak to community organizations.
The board members’ arsenal for combating misinformation will include a staff-prepared PowerPoint presentation and a pamphlet titled “Top 10 Things You Need to Know about the Common Core State Standards.”
Browning said he also plans to bring a resolution before the school board so that the district can make a statement that it supports the standards.
“I think it’s important that you as a board send a message to our business community and our parents that it’s the right thing to do,” Browning said.
Common Core State Standards are national standards that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Proponents say the standards provide more depth of learning and will better prepare students for college, the workforce and competition in a global economy.
A growing number of critics say the standards aren’t as rigorous as proponents claim and represent a federal intrusion into what should be state and local decisions about education. Some opponents express concerns that data collected could violate student privacy.
The math and language arts standards already are being phased in and are to be fully implemented in the 2014-15 school year. Among the supporters are President Barack Obama and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was featured in a video school board members watched Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is among those who oppose Common Core.
Browning said the need for more rigorous standards is reflected in data about Pasco students. For example, he said, just 66.7 percent of them score well enough on college placement tests to avoid remedial coursework. Pasco-Hernando Community College has developed a course of studies to provide remediation to students who arrive on campus unprepared for college-level courses.
Rayann Mitchell, a senior supervisor of teaching and learning, used an article titled “The Common Core Ate My Baby and Other Urban Legends” to address false rumors, such as a claim that schools will no longer teach phonics .
“Often those rumors get bigger and bigger and bigger,” Mitchell said. “Often when you ask someone where they heard that, they can’t tell you where they heard it.”
The transition to Common Core hasn’t been without its rough spots. Mitchell said many teachers are exhausted from long hours of planning their lessons.
As time passes, she said, those teachers should need less time to plan as they become more familiar with what needs to be done.