(LFC Comments: Donna Garner keeps everyone posted on changes in Florida’s education standards. Is it asking too much to have the State of Ohio’s education gurus to follow suit, or are they still preoccupied with one bathroom for all?)
“Florida’s Fantastic New Curriculum Standards”
by Donna Garner
Can you hear me shouting with excitement from the housetops? That is what I have been doing today as I looked over Florida’s new English / Language Arts / Reading curriculum standards (a.k.a., B. E. S. T. Standards in English Language Arts). This document was just adopted on 2.12.20 and is the most fabulous document of its type that I have ever seen.
Having been an English teacher for 33+ years and having been involved in the writing and adopting process of numerous ELAR curriculum standards documents, I am humbled and thrilled to see what Florida has accomplished.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on 1.24.20 that he was officially putting an end to the Common Core Standards in his state and replacing them with standards that “embrace common sense….his new ‘Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking’ (B.E.S.T.) standards…will mark a return to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic…Florida students will understand the principles that make America great.”
Gov. DeSantis is a man of his words. I have never seen better ELAR curriculum standards that are truly fact-based, academic, explicit, clearly worded, and increase in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next. The new Florida standards are exactly what parents all over this country have been begging for after they have watched their children being dumbed down and indoctrinated by Obama’s Common Core Standards (CCS) since 2010.
I would suggest that Florida curriculum directors, CCS vendors/lobbyists start “running for the door” because they will soon be out of jobs. One of the most amazing features of the B.E.S.T. document is that scattered throughout each grade level are Benchmark Clarifications and links to quality sections in the appendices. These features actually “teach teachers” content knowledge and define explicitly what the terms in the document mean – no confusion, no stilted language, no fancy words that mystify the typical teacher/parent/student. Curriculum directors and the consultants that they hire will no longer be needed to interpret the confusing structure, “educationeze,” acronyms, and terminology so often used in these verbose and inarticulate curriculum documents.
Built right into the B. E. S. T. English Language Arts document are a Table of Contents with interactive links, phonemic awareness/decoding skills (phonics), civics taught through carefully selected literary pieces K-5, rhetoric starting in Grade 6, lists at each grade level of many time-honored classics, cursive writing starting in Grade 3, literature taken from historical time periods Grades 6 – 8, explicit grammar/usage requirements K-12, well-defined writing and communication skills at each grade level, and so much more.
Since the B. E. S. T. curriculum is online for public use, what I suggest is that every English teacher in America should make use of the frequent Benchmark Clarifications and links to the appendices where they will find a wealth of instructional information that explains exactly what needs to be taught and learned at each grade level. No ancillary documents, no separate reading lists, no pedagogy diatribes are needed – just the B. E. S. T. ELAR document which is complete in itself.
My congratulations to everyone in Florida who worked on this outstanding curriculum document. If any state is looking for an example of an ELAR curriculum standards document that is absolutely NOT a rebrand of Common Core, then Florida’s B. E. S. T. document is the place to go.
[I have placed a call to the legal department at the Florida Department of Education to find out whether or not the new standards documents are copyrighted, but I have not heard back yet. If the standards documents are not copyrighted, then other states and/or school districts could utilize them also.]
***The B. E. S. T. Math Standards document is online, having been adopted also on 2.12.20; but I will leave that document for math experts to evaluate. I have posted the link to that document further on down the page.
FLORIDA ELA STANDARDS & BENCHMARKS WITH CLARIFICATIONS + EXAMPLES – ADOPTED ON FEB. 12, 2020