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Palm Beach School Board Member Says Lawmakers Set "Unrealistic Expectations"


An outgoing Palm Beach County school board member says the state’s new math standards are too tough, and that schools don’t have enough time to get kids up to speed.

Palm Beach County school board member Jennifer Prior Brown brought a fourth grade homework problem to Thursday’s board meeting.

Wayne and Cheryl have 72 marbles between them, the problem asked. Cheryl has two more than four times as many as Wayne. How many marbles does Cheryl have?

“So I quickly came up with an algebraic equation, right?" Prior Brown asked, before meticulously walking through the steps.

Prior Brown said the problem shows how difficult Florida's new Common Core-based standards are. This is the first year every grade in every Florida school is using the new math standards.

A math tutor told her it was a high-school-level Algebra problem. She’s worried schools don’t have enough time to prepare students.

“There is simply not enough time in the day for teachers to teach this much more rigorous content,” she told her colleagues.

Prior Brown says challenging students is good, but schools are being asked to do too much too soon.

“This work is simply too hard. It’s too much of a jump from where kids were last year," she said." I believe even the good will look bad.

I think students will suffer," she said. "And those who love and nurture and teach our neediest will be punished the most."

She says the new standards and tests are “unrealistic expectations” set by lawmakers and state leaders in Tallahassee. Palm Beach County parents and school leaders have been a leading voice criticizing annual standardized testing and other state education requirements.

Prior Brown’s critique was one of her final acts on the school board-- she did not run for reelection. But, she said she'd continue the fight with her former colleagues as a parent.