A Common Core legal mess in — where else? — Florida

This isn’t the way it was supposed to work, but…. there’s a legal battle in the state of Florida over part of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Education Week chronicles in this article why Tallahassee-based Infinity Software Development filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education over a Web site it was hired to build to help students and teachers prepare for the new standards and related curriculum and assessments, and why, a week after the lawsuit was filed, the department terminated its $20 million contract with the firm.

“Common Core” refers to a set of new standards in math and English/Language Arts that have been accepted by most states — at the urging of the Obama administration. New standardized tests are being designed to go along with the standards. Supporters say they elevate and standardize academic standards across the country; critics attack the standards for a number of reasons, which you can see here.

The Web site that the state of Florida contracted for — which was to feature lessons and  assessments — was already supposed to be up and running, Ed Week reports. The idea was to allow students and teachers to start preparing for the implementation of new Common Core-aligned curriculum in 2014, with the new standardized tests set to begin in the 2014-15 school year.

Florida, it turns out, had originally given the contract to build the Web site to Microsoft Corp. in 2011 but Infinity successfully challenged that contract award by arguing that Microsoft’s intent to keep ownership of the software went against the best interests of the state. But from the start of the contract there were tensions between the company and the state, Ed Week reports, with both sides accusing the other of bad behavior. According to the story:

A particularly heated exchange arose over allegations that Infinity wasn’t properly submitting content produced for the website to a panel of experts, as required, and that factual errors resulted.

For example, one civics lesson suggested a discussion on the meaning of “the pursuit of happiness” in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, though the phrase is actually found in the Declaration of Independence, the department said. In response, Mr. Taylor said the department didn’t understand the point of the lesson, which was to draw comparisons between the ideals in both documents.

 Read the whole story here.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · November 20, 2012