If nothing else, the jargon is world class

Published April 27, 2007

The push for "World-Class Education Standards" is this year's proof that Florida thinks the solution to every school issue is a new slogan, a meddlesome mandate and another standardized test.

The bill is a priority of House Speaker Marco Rubio, a 35-year-old Coral Gables attorney who was inspired by a Hoover Institution report commissioned by former Gov. Jeb Bush. As it turns out, the "Sunshine State Standards," which form the basis of FCAT standardized testing, are apparently not worldly enough.

The copy and paste commands on the Department of Education's computer could quickly adapt "Sunshine State" to "World Class," but Rubio wants more. The bill, HB 7151, insists that schools toss everything out and start over - "systematically replace (Sunshine Standards) by adopting World Class Education Standards that prepare Florida's students to effectively engage, communicate, and compete in a global economy."

These new globally oriented schools would also be required to administer a fifth standardized test, this one for social studies.

Lest students and teachers get too international in their thinking, though, the bill directs further that social studies exams place "an emphasis on history, government, civics and United States patriotism and national sovereignty." Unpatriotic students, presumably, could be denied diplomas.

The bill, with its call for world-class U.S. patriotism, has made its way to the House floor. But the civics lesson may begin in the Senate, where supporters search for a way to bend the government's rules. A companion bill was defeated in a Senate committee and is now under a cloud because a motion to reconsider did not lead to a new vote. Rubio, unmoved, keeps pressing forward.

If this is the path to world-class education, maybe Florida can wait.