"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Enterprise Florida Redefines Social Studies

Just days ago Florida social studies teachers were crying for their own FCAT test in order to be taken seriously by the corporations who own Florida schools. Now it seems that Enterprise Florida, the organization where Florida government and business go to breed, has come up with an answer to that request that could been inspired by the education policies of pre-war Germany:
TALLAHASSEE -- Lawmakers are hailing a plan to overhaul the state's education standards and bring experts from around the world to weigh in on what Florida's students should be learning.

By moving from "Sunshine State Standards" to "World Class Standards," they hope to shift the state's guiding education philosophy to prepare students for careers in the world, not just Florida's marketplace.

A popular centerpiece of the proposal is the expansion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to include testing in social studies, which is defined to include geography, economics and "United States patriotism and national sovereignty."

The proposals have moved through the Legislature in recent weeks, with some lawmakers saying the bill is the most important education initiative this year.

The full House plans to take up the bill early next week. A procedural error in a Senate committee earlier this week means it will have a more difficult time making it to the Senate floor. If it does not make it in the Senate, the proponents, some of the Legislature's leading education delegates, promise to bring it for approval again next year.

The legislation broadens the group of leaders deciding what a Florida education should be beyond officials in the Department of Education.

Under the proposal, the new standards would be shaped by input from Florida classroom teachers and administrators, and from community colleges and universities. It would also include representatives from the business community selected by Enterprise Florida, a public-private group operating under the state's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development.

The standards would also have to pass muster with more than one nationally recognized foundation, institute, organization or board with expertise in performance standards for kindergarten to 12th-grade curriculum.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, former school superintendent in Okaloosa County and a proponent of the plan, called the current process of defining standards at the Department of Education "intellectual incest."

"Instead, we would look to the world and to the best performance in the world and try to leverage the best teaching methods and highest standards, wherever we find them," Gaetz said. . . .

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