Chicago isn’t in Florida, but issues of the competitiveness of our workforce, and education’s role in strengthening our workforce and making us competitive on a global scale are important to Chicagoans today. Here is an excellent interview with the Chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida about the Common Core, diversity and unity, and competition in a global economy.
New America Media, Interview, Khalil Abdullah,
David Lawrence, Jr., arrived in Miami in 1989 as an experienced newspaper journalist and continued his stellar career for another decade at the Miami Herald. He then retired to devote himself to improving the childhood years of America’s children. He chairs the Children’s Movement of Florida, a statewide, nonpartisan, advocacy organization that focuses on issues critical to the early stages of life. In an interview, which has been edited, with NAM editor Khalil Abdullah, Lawrence makes the case for why Floridians should adopt the Common Core State Standards.
What is your stance on Common Core?
I support Common Core totally. No question in my mind that if we are going to compete internationally as a country, we need national standards. States will continue to play the primary role in achieving this. Florida has had, as so many other states, a dust up over what’s happening here with Common Core. In Florida, we say Florida Standards. Our state has tinkered a bit with the Common Core State Standards, but I think they’re very closely aligned.
Is the controversy around Common Core driven by ideology?
Some people on the significant right have argued, ‘my gosh, this is a loss of freedoms.’ I don’t believe that for a second. I see no evidence of it whatsoever, and frankly, we’re going to lose our freedom if we become uncompetitive as a country.
One of the saving graces in Florida has been Jeb Bush, the former governor, a Republican, who has strongly supported Common Core and, I think, who has served as cover for a lot of other people, particularly Republicans [to support it also].
Corporations have long been pressing states to focus on improving public education. Are we finally nearing the apex of public awareness about investing in this area?
There have been many reports and moments along this continuum. For instance, we had the Committee for Economic Development report, the Carnegie Commission Report on Higher Education; we had the moment of awareness about human brain development. In Florida, the Florida Chamber Foundation, which is a very key business group, announced an early childhood business alliance in April. That’s a very significant development.
Having said all that, we’re still fairly nascent in having people understand this issue, but the President, in his last two State of the Union messages, talked about [it]. Though nothing seems to be moving in Congress, the action, in any event, is going to be more in the states. What I most want is the President to continue to use his bully pulpit.
Business people complain frequently, as you’ve just noted, about the quality of graduates, little realizing it isn’t really about fixing college, or the 11th grade, or the seventh grade. It’s about investing early for the highest return on investment. If we understand that, we can make real progress.
Read the entire interview at: