Fans and critics appear as Florida waits for more detail on Common Core replacement

Posted at 8:18 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 07:15:55-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida’s new academic standards, replacing Common Core, already has fans and critics.

That’s despite the state still waiting to fully roll out the 10-year-old current curriculum’s replacement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis only gave an outline of B.E.S.T. Standards, or Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, last week. The Republican said the full details will be released before the end of the current week.

Under B.E.S.T., math would return to the basics. The program will emphasize civics, require financial literacy and feature fewer exams. Students would also return to reading full books instead of literary "chunks."

Before graduating, high school students would be required to take either the SAT or ACT, offered free to eleventh graders.

Florida’s Parent Teacher Association was happy with the announcement. Despite the limited details, the group said they felt they were being heard after helping craft B.E.S.T.

“We liked what we saw," said Angie Gallo, Vice President Florida PTA. "He’s reducing some testing. He’s talking about giving the SAT/ACT free to all students— that’s going to be huge in our poverty areas. So far, we’re really optimistic.”

The state’s teacher union hasn't been as supportive. The Florida Education Association said it was displeased with the limited details of B.E.S.T.

FEA President Fedrick Ingram said the state is too focused on standards and missing the bigger issue. He said the union is pushing for better pay and facilities.

“The Department of Education should be focused on what happens in the classroom," Ingram said. "The teachers and the teaching that goes on and giving teachers the time, the resources and the funding.”

Following the release on B.E.S.T.'s specifics, the governor will submit the academic standards to the Florida Board of Education for approval. That's expected to happen sometime between February and March.