June 26, 2013
Senator John Legg, chairman of the Senate Education Policy Committee, despite authoring a very good bill just signed into law that requires ALL districts to have adequate and independently verified technology before the online Common Core tests can be given, wrote a very pro-Common Core column published in the Tampa Tribune on June 14th. (Click HERE to read that column). Below is Dr. Karen Effrem's submitted, but unpublished column:
With all due respect to Senator Legg and the great work he has done as chairman of the Senate Education Policy Committee, after his June 14th guest column in the Tampa Tribune, we would submit there are some gaps in or simply incorrect information he has received about Common Core in the following areas:
Rigor/International Benchmarking First the senator says the standards are "are internationally benchmarked, preparing all students to succeed in our global economy," indicating that they are of high quality and rigor. Later in his column he says, "Florida...has adopted its own rigorous standards beyond the minimum Common Core State Standards..." Which is it? The standards cannot be both rigorous and minimum. The facts are: 1) There is no evidence that national standards improve academic achievement; and 2) Repeated requests for evidence of international benchmarking by the Common Core validation committee were denied causing five academicians to refuse to sign off on the final version.
State and Local control - The federally funded and supervised national tests and model curriculum will determine curriculum because stakes are very high for test results, including graduation, teacher pay, and district funding. These tests are aligned to Common Core, NOT the 15% of so-called "rigorous standards" that the states were "allowed" to add as their own after being required to adopt 100% of Common Core verbatim.
State Led/Public Process Despite declarations to the contrary, the standards development and adoption processes were far from transparent and state led. The three groups that developed the standards are private trade associations whose deliberations are closed to the public. The National Governor's Association receives 80% of its funds from the federal government plus more from unaccountable private foundations such as the Gates Foundation. The appointed State Board of Education adopted the standards without holding any explanatory public hearings and without consulting any elected officials.
Voluntary - The states "voluntarily" adopted those standards because it was the only realistic way they could compete for desperately needed funds during a severe recession or to get relief from onerous federal regulations of No Child Left Behind. Having to submit to federal directives while competing to receive taxpayer funds forcibly taken from the states by the federal government is not exactly a voluntary or 10th amendment process.
Data Privacy Although Senator Legg is correct that the standards themselves do "not pose an identity or security risk to students," the federally funded state longitudinal data system required in the Race to the Top grant that Florida received certainly does. This data system will link the test results for the new standards to the 300-400 points of other very private data, like the iris scans that occurred in Polk County without parental consent. This womb to tomb dossier will make the NSA's data collection look tame.
Finally, when has centralizing or nationalizing anything ever been a conservative concept? How will parents, districts and states be able to change any of the standards controlled by these private and unaccountable groups? The citizens of Florida deserve answers.