A liberty-minded Republican candidate for Florida governor released an education policy paper that vows to kill the controversial Common Core standards, remove the federal government from Florida’s education system, and restore the traditional phonics method of teaching reading that worked for millennia. The bold plan would make Florida the best-educated state in the union and would almost certainly lead to a stampede of other states pursuing similar policies.
Federal involvement in education is both unconstitutional and unwise, White explained. “The federal Department of Education is a wholly unconstitutional agency of the federal government,” he explained. “The feds are a burden, not a benefit. Their unconstitutional involvement has made education worse in Florida, not better. It is time for them to go. We will waste no time kicking them to the curb.”
Getting the federal government out of Florida’s education system and ending the Common Core scheme “is absolutely essential to reestablishing sound and effective curriculum choices at every grade level throughout our K-12 system of public education,” White said, adding that the high-stakes testing tied to the Obama-backed national education standards would be scrapped as well. An analysis of the numbers shows it is not just feasible — it is the right thing to do.
There are many problems he identifies with the federally backed national standards. For instance, under Common Core, children are forced to memorize “sight words” in Kindergarten, which makes it much harder for them to learn to read properly later, as it builds a flawed reflex in the brain. This causes massive problems, including, as White points out, government data showing that two thirds of eighth graders in Florida are less than proficient in reading.
“I believe this has happened because for decades our reading curricula, including Common Core, have emphasized the ‘whole word’ approach, also known as memorizing sight words, in early learning,” White explained. “This style of teaching has students memorize entire words and encourages kids to read by sight rather than by sounding out words phonetically. By the time phonics is introduced in later grades, the students’ brains are already used to whole words, which makes grasping the concept of phonics and applying it far more difficult than it needs to be.”
White noted that most educators who received an education degree from a typical university would defend the alleged need for memorizing sight words, because that is what they were taught. “Fortunately a number of key people at the University of Florida are now realizing the truth, and are having great success with systematic phonics in pilot projects,” White explained, citing examples of tremendous reading success in Florida schools that rely exclusively on phonics.
Under Governor White, phonics would be restored. Common Core math, too, would be out the window, so that students could once again learn from successful, proven mathematics curricula. “We have got to go back to the basics in reading and math in the early grades in order to give students the strong foundation they will need so that they will be able to grasp more complicated concepts in later grades when it’s appropriate,” reads White’s plan, dubbed “Children First.”
Despite a few points of disagreement with the views of this writer — on charter schools, for example — White’s education plan is easily the best of any that have been released so far this election. Just the phonics restoration and the removal of Common Core and grotesque federal mandates would make Florida the best-educated state in the union by leaps and bounds.
Hopefully voters, parents, and other candidates for elected office are paying attention.