Ron DeSantis announces BEST education standards to replace Common Core

By Jacob Ogleson
January 24, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said the new set of Florida education standards to replace Common Core is complete. The changes include requirements children learn cursive, study the Constitution in grade school and meet several measures in literacy based on grade level.

“It really goes beyond Common Core to embrace common sense,” DeSantis said.

The Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking will be published on the Department of Education website next week. But a summary of recommendations and changes was made available shortly after a press conference in Naples.

Among the most notable changes were new expectations in literacy ranging from learning sight words in grade school to being able to comprehend Shakespearean sonnets before graduating high school.

But in some places, standards change downward. In one section that promises “No ‘Confusing’ Math,” a requirement for students to learn to “multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two- digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations” gets changed to simply multiplying four-digit whole numbers by a one-digit number with “procedural fluency.”

DeSantis spoke to supporters in Naples about the mission to replace Common Core. A year ago, he signed an executive order demanding the elimination of all vestiges of the derided standards.

What’s in the new standards will become more clear next week, but he promised a focus on literacy and civics, a long-held priority of the Republican leader. The new standards require teaching the U.S. Constitution in 5th grade, as opposed to 11th grade.

DeSantis managed to sneak an allusion to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign slogan — that students must “understand the principles that make America Great.”

He also referenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying a read of the civil rights leader’s famous speeches showed understanding of American civics.

But much of the press conference was spent deriding the 2010 national standards BEST will replace. That showed the significant evolution in the politics of Common Core, originally adopted in some form by 41 states.