Tallahassee Legislative Update

Tallahassee, FL

Curriculum Battle. Florida is among the latest states to become embroiled in a growing controversy over an effort to harmonize education standards among the states, and some heavy hitters in Tallahassee and Washington are beginning to weigh in.
At the heart of this burgeoning battle is the Common Core State Standards, an educational initiative of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. The program was created in response to the education reforms in many states that include increased accountability for student performance.
The goal was to take the initiatives occurring in the states and create a challenging, more standardized curriculum among the states. Started in 2009, the standards have been adopted by 45 states, including Florida. Implementation is scheduled for the 2014-15 school year.
After staying largely under the radar its first three years, the initiative has been attracting critics from numerous states in 2013. The chief complaint is that, in the rush to toughen educational accountability, states and communities are sacrificing too much local control of children’s education.
In late July, State Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford wrote Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has since resigned over an unrelated issue, expressing concerns about plans to utilize a nationwide testing system to measure students’ performance on the standards. Florida is one of 22 states that has agreed to implement the standardized testing.
Meanwhile, grassroots opposition grows. Concerned parents have formed Florida Parents Against Common Core. Central Florida Coordinator Stacie Clark of Oviedo was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel as saying, “We need to look at everything tied to Common Core.”
Sen. Marco Rubio has joined in the criticism, saying he believes in tougher education standards but also thinks they should be handled at the state level. Intriguingly, this puts him in direct conflict with former Gov. Jeb Bush, a longtime champion of the standards.

Steve Crisafulli

Crisafulli’s Promotion. Super Region Rep. Steve Crisafulli, already in line to be the next Florida House Speaker, got a promotion in late July when current Speaker Weatherford appointed him House Majority Leader.

Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, will serve as the No. 2 leader until Weatherford’s term as speaker is up. Weatherford touted the move as a logical step for someone slated to become speaker next year.
For his part, Crisafulli tweeted, “Excited and honored to serve as Majority Leader. Thanks (to Weatherford) for this opportunity!”