BROOKSVILLE - The majority of Hernando County School Board members lamented Common Core State Standards implementation at a workshop Tuesday following an overview of the nationwide initiative.
Forty-five states, Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories have agreed to start using common educational standards for kindergarten through 12th-graders in English, language arts and mathematics with the hopes of graduating a more globally competitive workforce.
The initiative is already being introduced in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms in Hernando County, and broader implementation is expected to start next year.
Vice Chairman Gus Guadagnino, among other board members, disliked the mandated purchase of computer technologies for teaching and learning assessments.
"That was the most annoying thing I've heard in a long time," Guadagnino said.
Board members emphasized community-based education over the Common Core's global focus, saying each community and state has different needs that those communities know how best to address.
Board members said bureaucrats will be taking money from school districts across the country through mandated hardware and software upgrades, and said student learning would be better enhanced if those resources were applied to teaching students fundamental skills like math.
"What bothers me is that somebody is going to be making a heck of a lot of money on this," board member Dianne Bonfield said. "That's what frustrates me is we have to continuously buy hardware for children to sit in front of a computer for assessments."
"That does not mean computer literacy," she added, noting recent state mandates requiring costly expansion in Internet broadband for computer-based testing.
"There's a lot of money there that could be going elsewhere," she said.
Board member Cynthia Moore said teachers already assess students daily, and that the extra 20 hours of testing under Common Core distracts from learning, making it more difficult for teachers to do their jobs.
"Common Core I think is just another name for what we're already doing," Moore said. "I think it's a bunch of garbage. What's important for Florida is not important for Arkansas."
Board member John Sweeney agreed the district wastes time meeting legislated mandates instead of focusing on what the district believes to be sound learning. He also said technology is not going away, and that the district should embrace its potential as a learning tool.
Since the state has already opted into Common Core standards, the school district will be obligated by law to meet additional mandates.
The school board expressed frustration over the district's lack of autonomy in the situation. Moore encouraged board members to speak independently with state representatives.
Chairman Matt Foreman encouraged Hernando County residents to vote for state representatives whose views on education policy align with their own.