Even Mainstream Media Question Scott's Statements about Being Out of Common Core

May, 2014

Aside from Bill Korach's May 22nd and 27th articles in the Report Card supporting Governor Rick Scott's less than accurate statements regarding Florida being out of Common Core, the media has been fairly correct about the situation. Korach quoted the governor as saying the following:

"The Florida State Standard is THE standard, not Common Core."

Sadly, the facts do not support this statement at all.  When using regular math, instead of fuzzy, Common Core math, the numbers do not add up.  Ninety-eight changes involving cursive writing and calculus that will not be tested in the general state tests, out of eleven thousand math and English standards still leaves 99.1% Common Core.
The governor's statement is even harder to believe when so many top officials have already admitted throughout, that the entire public hearing process was a complete sham:
Speaker Weatherford, kowtowing to the corporate overlords in the Council of 100 in November of 2013 before what were accurately described as "tweaks" and "copy edits" in the "Florida standards" were released, said:
              I just want you to know, the state of Florida is going to have a higher standard,
              they are going to be Common Core standards, they are going to be applicable
              to the rest of the country, they may be called something else, I don't know, but
              at the end of the day the actual standards will be there, and the state of Florida
              will support them . . . . (Emphasis added)
Commissioner Stewart admitting to the Ocala Star Banner on 9/30/13 that the standards changes would not be significant even before the hearing process started:
"While the Department of Education plans to hold community town hall meetings to hear from the public about the pros and cons of the new Common Core State Standards, she expects little changes in the curriculum as a result." (Emphasis added).
Race to the Top coordinator Holly Edenfield also stated in a letter dated the day after the governor's executive order and well before the dates of the hearings were even announced:
"Florida is not delaying implementation of the Common Core," Holly Edenfield, the state's Race to the Top coordinator, wrote to school district officials the next day. "We are opening up the standards for public review which might result in some changes to them, but significant changes are not expected." (Emphasis added)
K-12 Deputy Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen in a webinar the day before the comment period closed:
"We are moving forward with the new more rigorous standards.  So, if anyone is hesitating or worried about next year, the timeline has not changed.  We are moving forward and we will have new course descriptions for next year and ... new assessments." (Emphasis added).
The media, both in Florida and nationally, have also accurately refuted the deceptive tactics of this administration:
Jeff Solochek
of the Tampa Bay Times and Politifact, who can in no way be described as a friend of the anti-Common Core movement, wrote in direct response to the first Korach article:
 While Scott has said that Florida's standards are its own, Common Core foes often have called him out on this one. They have accurately noted that the Florida Standards are actually the Common Core with the addition of 98 items, mostly related to cursive handwriting and calculus instruction. Supporters of the Common Core did not protest the revisions, saying they were minor and noting the State Board of Education removed nothing.
Scott offered a different version of events to Report Card. He said, "The Florida Standard is derived from the Next Generation Sunshine State Standard, which was derived from earlier versions of the Sunshine State Standards. These standards pre-dated Common Core and a truly Florida's own standards."
Except for this: The Florida Board of Education adopted the Common Core in 2010, replacing the Next Generation standards in English/language arts and math. When it rebranded everything as Florida Standards, it included the revised Common Core and the state standards in other subject areas. (Emphasis added).
Irene Flores of New America Media quoted several Florida sources including Dr. Karen Effrem about the name change in a May 27th piece titled, In Florida Schools, Its Common Core by Another Name:
"We tinkered with the Florida standards but it's really Common Core--it's now the policy of the state," said David Lawrence Jr. with The Children's Movement of Florida and Education and Community Leadership Scholar at the University of Miami's School of Education and Human Development...

...According to Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, "Florida standards are 99.1 percent Common Core. It was completely a name change, or as we have dubbed it, 'lipstick on a pig.'"

She says it makes no difference what you call it as many of the tweaks are not actually going to show up on the tests and that furthermore they don't change the substantive problems with the standards, those that she and others fought from the start.

Florida AP reporter Gary Fineout said, "But shhh - don't tell anyone this - Common Core isn't really going away in Florida, just the name."
Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, though incorrectly criticizing Rep. Van Zant on the AIR controversy, did say:
It [AIR] did recently win a new six-year $220 million contract from the Florida Education Department to develop new state standardized tests that will be aligned to the new Florida Standards, which started out as the Common Core but got a name change amid growing opposition to the Core initiative. The Florida Standards themselves remain remarkably similar to the Common Core. (Emphasis added).
Even the Bill Gates funded EdWeek website said the following about Florida's new test:
It was kind of a done deal already, of course, since Florida announced a couple weeks ago that it chose the American Institutes for Research, rather than PARCC, to make its common-core tests. But today we see that PARCC has officially dropped Florida from its list of members. (Emphasis added).
Korach then goes on both in the first and most of the second article to try to defend the three "Lipstick on a Pig" bills the governor signed to try to appease the growing anger at Common Core, especially the alleged "local control" bill.  He finished his second article by saying, "Some voices have been skeptical about the intentions of Governor Scott to purge Common Core. However, these three bills will provide a powerful tool to citizens if they will exercise their rights."  Unfortunately, only one of the three allows any exercise of citizens' rights, and that one is very limited. Here is a summary (for more details, see our legislative wrap-up):

HB 7031 This removes common Core from statute, but is completely cosmetic.  This only removes the controversial name.  The only thing parents can do here to exercise their rights is to remove their children from public schools and avoid private schools that teach these awful standards and obsess about the invasive, useless, far too frequent, and very expensive tests.
SB189 While this law prohibits collection of the most controversial types of data, it does nothing to deal with the fact that hundreds of other data points are gathered and used without consent for research and evaluation due to the federal administrative weakening of the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.  This bill also does nothing to protect psychologically invasive surveys and assessments. This bill offers no opportunity whatsoever for parents, students, or teachers to exercise their Fourth Amendment rights.
SB 864 - This law is the only one of the three that allows any parental involvement or local control, but does nothing to deal with the many problems with Common Core.  IF a district exercises the option to choose its own curriculum, they must "certify to the department by March 31 of each year that all instructional materials for core courses used by the district are aligned with applicable state standards [i.e. Common Core]." With regard to parental objections, IF parents are able to find out about bad curriculum, they must file an objection within 30 days of the curriculum being ADOPTED, not when their students are exposed to the objectionable material.

Honest policy disagreements are one thing, but outright deception is particularly objectionable and should not be tolerated from public officials. Media outlets need to their due diligence.

[Updated 6/2/14 to show 5/27/14 New America Media article]

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