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Common Core end leaves Levy schools in limbo

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Suzette Cook, Reporter

An executive order delivered by Governor Ron DeSantis on Jan. 31 leaves future textbook and classroom curriculum purchases for Levy County schools in limbo.

Executive Order 19-32 outlines a path for Florida to “improve its education system by eliminating Common Core and paving the way for Florida students to receive a world-class education to prepare them for jobs of the future,” states a press release from the governor’s office.

“I have heard parents from across the state loud and clear and they all agree that it is time to finally end Common Core,” said DeSantis. “So today, we are taking action through this executive order to ensure that Florida has the best academic standards in the nation and eliminating Common Core from our schools, as well as reaffirming my commitment to prepare our students for the real world through an increased focus on civic education,” the statement reads.

The biggest concern Levy County School District has right now is how the order is going to impact the math adoption process, said Assistant Superintendent John Lott. The County is currently in the middle of a required math textbook adoption cycle.

“It may take a couple of years to establish the new Florida standards,” Lott said. “Until the commissioner of education and the Department of Education establish the standards, we don’t know what it means. Are they going to back up, are the standards going to be easier? Who knows?” he added.

“Once they establish the standards, then everything will evolve from there.”

The School Board has been engaged in the search for new math text books recently, but isn’t sure if the new books and materials on the agreed upon list will match upcoming changes.

It will be expensive for the 5,380 students enrolled in Levy County schools, their teachers and the staffs of the schools to learn the new materials, Lott said. “We don’t want to spend a bunch of money on math books and math curriculum, and they (DOE) come up with new standards that make the books and materials obsolete in a year.

“We are a small district with limited resources,” Lott added. “The State never adequately funds those needs.”

Levy County is not alone in the situation. “We’re not the only district that has that concern,” Lott said.

“It appeared in the press conference,” Lott said, “that Math, in particular Common Core math, seemed to be where most of the complaints came from.

“Maybe that’s the governor’s plan. Put a halt to the textbook process. Nothing like that has been communicated to us.”

According to Lott, textbook adoption usually takes place by the end of the school year, but in time to receive the materials before the teachers get back so the district can build in professional development days to help schools get familiarized with the materials which include print textbooks, electronic curriculum and disposable workbooks.

“We just don’t know,” Lott said about moving forward with textbook investments. “It’s a wait and see pattern from DOE.”

The book publishers are in the same boat,” Lott said.

“They’re not able to do anything until the State issues the standards,” he said. “It might take two years to establish the standards, another year to develop the books, then narrow down the book choice. It could take four years. Not a quick fix.

“Either way, it becomes a struggle for us to get relevant curriculum into the hands of our teachers.”