Florida’s Lee County school board has voted to opt out of Common Core-aligned standardized testing, becoming the first in the state to do so.
The 45 states which adopted the controversial standards were all expected to transition to one of several new tests being developed by federally-funded test consortia to align with the standards.
Common Core opponents view the federally-backed tests as an intrusion into local control of school curriculum, arguing that standardized tests ultimately dictate what schools teach.
The school district is the ninth largest in Florida and the country’s thirty-third largest, and serves 85,000 students.
The board made the decision after meeting for three hours and hearing testimony from 33 people. According to the News-Press, a full audience erupted in cheers and applause once they announced the decision.
The board still has to determine what tests they will use.
USA Today describes the emotional scene of the meeting:
Emotions came to a head when Lori Jenkins said her son was on leave from school because of a terminal heart condition, yet the district still sent someone to proctor the Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test at his home. The audience gasped with disgust.
“He’s terminal, he’s going to die, but he goes to school! He does the stupid remedial classes! That’s how I know this is all about money,” Jenkins yelled into the microphone before she hit her one-minute time limit and the audio was cut.
Going forward, school board member-elect Pam LaRiviere said the district must now see how the state Department of Education reacts. She predicted Wednesday’s decision would serve as an impetus for many other districts around the state.
“There’s something about Lee County,” she said. “It has not lost its frontier attitude. I give us a lot of credit, but I’m scared.”