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Lee School Board candidates weigh in on Common Core


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Lee School Board candidates weigh in on Common Core

By Barry Miller. CREATED Aug 28, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. - To opponents of Common Core testing, Lee county school board member Don Armstrong looked a bit like superman last night.

Right after the board voted to dump Common Core testing, he unbuttoned his dress shirt - revealing a red t-shirt underneath. It has the symbol and word #boycott on it. The crowd erupted in applause.

Armstrong's dramatic move was an exclamation point on the vote he and other members cast against Common Core testing.

The move may help or hurt him in his re-election bid this year - depending where voters line up on the issue.

He and challenger Steven Teuber - whom Armstrong beat out of the seat a few years ago - will face off in a runoff election in November. 

Teuber, an attorney, tells Fox 4 he fears the school board has created a crisis when there didn't need to be one.

Teuber says he's against Common Core and believes it's something that needs to be ultimately defeated.

But Teuber says he fears the board's action has forced a showdown where Lee county students could get the short end of the stick.

Teuber, who is challenging Armstrong for the District 4 school board seat,  explains why more than 2,000 seniors in Lee county could graduate, but without a diploma.

Teuber says people ask him, "Are you going to get behind it?"

"Get behind what?" he says.

"We don't have a plan!  Until the state responds, we're not doing anything."

Fox 4 news asked Armstrong what's the next step after last night's vote but he declined to be interviewed.

Teuber says he worries this was a "knee-jerk reaction," made without a clear path of what to do next.

Teuber warns that "We completely relinquished our control by saying we're not going to do it. But they don't have a plan."

Teuber explains you need to look at education as a moving train with four cars,

There are community standards,  school curriculum, testing for students and then evaluation of teachers. 

Teuber says the board has thrown out the testing component without modifying and improving the curriculum.

Teuber adds, "So meanwhile, if we continue to go on this way... all of our high school graduates won't graduate with a high school diploma.  and now we're saying oh that won't happen... better hope so... we don't know."

The Department of Education has yet to respond to the challenge made by the Lee school board last night.

Teuber says the best possible thing to do now is to get the school board and the Department of Education to start working together, as soon as possible.

The issue is also something that's come in a separate political race this season - the race for Governor.

Democrat Charlie Crist in on the record supporting Common Core but says it needs to be implement in a way that helps Florida's schools - meaning there needs to be plenty of local input. 

Fox 4 asked Republican incumbent Rick Scott about the Lee board's decision today, but - as he has been in previous interviews - he was non-committal on the issue. 

“Lets wait and see,” he said.