Does A Common Core Copyright Mean States Are Stuck?
Florida education officials are moving quickly to get changes to Common Core English and math standards in place.
The Florida Department of Education held two feedback sessions Tuesday on proposed changes to English and math standards that Florida and 40 other states adopted. But the state has been working to distance itself from the Common Core label and the changes, which are mostly additions, are aimed at doing just that. But does changing the standards mean they should still bear the common core name? Susan Pareigis with the Florida Council of 100, a business lobbying group, seemed to be getting at that issue when she asked the Florida Department of Education this question:
“Does that keep us within the 15-percent allowed for changes?”
Common core allows states to add up to 15 percent of their own metrics to the standards. Department of Education’s Mary Jane Tapin says the office hasn’t done that calculation. Later, another person asked whether Florida’s changes violate the Common Core copyright. Tapin says no:
“These recommended proposed standards are truly our own, and we are not bound to the copyright. We have gone through the process to strengthen our standards, and these are our recommendations for strengthening Florida’s standards," Tapin said.
Whether those changes violate the Common Core brand is the latest issue raised by opponents to the standards. They claim copyright laws mean states are bound to Common Core. But Chad Colby, a spokesman for the group Achieve, Inc. -- which helped create Common Core along with the National Governors Association -- says that’s not the case.
“The copyright was established to just protect the standards from misuse by private entities, not from the state, and not from public entities. So the copyright is one thing and its more of a legal thing to protect [from] misuse.”
Colby says states can do whatever they want with the standards. But he notes changing them too much could defeat the purpose, which has been to allow for a state-to-state comparison of student performance. So far, most of Florida’s changes have been largely cosmetic, including cleaning up confusing language and in some instances adding emphasis on subjects such as trigonometry, calculus and cursive writing which may never appear on a standardized test.