Florida Common Core changes approved despite protest at Orlando meeting

By Caroline Rowland and Natalie Tolomeo, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 5:20 PM EST
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What is Common Core?

The Florida Department of Education has approved changes to the controversial Common Core standards the Sunshine State is adopting starting next school year.

Parents, educators and state leaders spent Tuesday morning in Orlando going back and forth over plans to change the standards, but after hearing two hours of arguments against Common Core in general, the state Board of Education unanimously approved the revised standards.

Of 98 changes to Common Core in Florida, posted on the Department of Education website, 52 have to do with calculus.

Other approved changes to the state's Math and Language Arts curricula include:

  • Cursive: Fourth- and fifth-graders will be required to learn to write in cursive.
  • Coin value: First-graders will be required to identify and compute the value of coins and combinations of coins.
  • Measuring: First-graders will be required to learn how to use a ruler.

Eighty people signed up to speak at Tuesday's meeting, almost all of whom were against not only the proposed changes, but to Common Core in general.

The changes are supposed to be a big change from the national Common Core standards, but critics said they're not enough of a change. Parents, former teachers and other people who work in education claimed the standards are too rigorous, and education should not be standard across the board.

At one point Tuesday morning, emotions got high in the meeting when members of the audience were asked not to clap.

Florida's Education commissioner, Pam Stewart, said the board believes the revised state standards will make Florida students more competitive.

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Outside meeting, parents and protesters blast Common Core

Outside the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center in Orlando, dozens protested for more than an hour before Tuesday's meeting got underway, holding signs calling to stop a so-called "Common Core cover-up."

Parents, grandparents, students and future pupils loudly expressed their concerns, their chants echoing in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters. While many were from around Central Florida, the protesters also came from as far away as Tampa and Jacksonville.

Organizers said the number of people protesting Common Core has grown over the years, and they will continue to fight for change.

"Parents are ultimately responsible for their children," said protester Laura Caruso. "What they have responsibility over, they must have authority over."

Some protesters gave examples of school work their children are assigned, with topics of test questions including rapper 50 Cent, Harry Potter and the "Twilight" book and film series, which parents said they felt were not appropriate in a school setting.

The Florida Department of Education said through Common Core, teachers have more freedom to choose what they teach, but the materials aren't chosen through the program, which some protestors didn't know.

An Education Department spokesperson said if the parents were concerned with what their children were being taught in the classroom, they should take it up with their county school districts and the teachers in those classrooms.

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In Depth: Proposed changes to Florida Common Core

Source: Florida Department of Education

Language Arts

Mathematics