March, 2017

Details are below, but the Bush Foundation for Florida's Future bill carried by Senator Flores will not only NOT eliminate any tests, but it will drastically increase the failure rates, affecting school grades and property values. Senator Montford's SB 964 genuinely eliminates tests, and helps teachers, parents and students. 


Please tell the Committee: I strongly oppose SB 926 as currently written. The NAEP proficiency language and competency based education language must be fixed or the bill should be voted down. I strongly support SB 964. Please hear it in committee and vote for it.

Senator Wilton Simpson (R) Acting Chairman
District: (352) 540-6074 Tally: (850) 487-5010

Vice Chair: Senator Debbie Mayfield (R)
District: (321) 409-2025 Tally: (850) 487-5017

Senator Gary M. Farmer, Jr. (D)
District: (954) 467-4227 Tally: (850) 487-5034

Senator Bill Galvano (R)
District: (941) 741-3401 Tally: (850) 487-5021

Senator Tom Lee (R)
District: (813) 653-7061 Tally: (850) 487-5020

Senator David Simmons (R)
District: (407) 262-7578 Tally: (850) 487-5009

Senator Linda Stewart (D)
District: (407) 893-2422 Tally: (850) 487-5013

Senator Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D)
District: (954) 321-2705 Tally: (850) 487-5033

Senator Anitere Flores (R) New Member
District: (305) 222-4117 Tally: (850) 487-5039

Email Addresses:,,,,,,,
Sadly, it appears that it is another round of Jeb Bush's Foundation vs. Florida parents. Among the several education bills that were discussed, but not voted on in a Senate Education Committee "workshop" on March 21st, two testing bills could not have provided a clearer contrast in effectiveness and support.

The first, SB 964 by Senator Bill Montford (D) [HB 1249 by Rep. Halsey Beshears (R)] is a bipartisan bill that genuinely eliminates all of the statewide standardized End of Course (EOC) assessments except for Algebra I and Biology I. According to the bill summary that FSCCC helped prepare with colleagues in Common Ground, the bill makes other important and beneficial changes to Florida's convoluted accountability system:
Elimination of the 9th grade FSA
Using the ACT/SAT in place of the 10th grade ELA or Algebra 1 EOC
Elimination of Value Added Measure (VAM) formula from the accountability system
Provision for non-electronic testing options
SB 964 has bipartisan co-sponsorship by former Senate President Tom Lee (R), Education Committee Vice-Chair Debbie Mayfield (R), and Senators Rene Garcia (R), Linda Stewart (D), Audrey Gibson (D), and Doug Broxson (R). There was also extremely broad organizational support for this bill with testimony in support by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS), individual superintendents, two of the organizations that are part of Common Ground Catherine Baer of The Tea Party Network and Beth Overholt and Marie Claire Lehman of Opt Out Leon County (FSCCC also supports this bill, but was unable to attend the hearing), and the Florida Education Association. There was no testimony in opposition.
That is in sharp contrast to the other testing and accountability bill discussed that day, SB 926 by Senate President Pro-Tem Anitere Flores [HB 773 by PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee Chairman Manny Diaz (R)]. Though dubbed the "Fewer, Better Tests" bill, this legislation, as admitted by the author and Patricia Levesque of the Foundation for Florida's Future, founded by Jeb Bush, at an introductory press conference (also analyzed HERE), does not actually eliminate any tests or change the stakes associated with them. It moves the testing window to the last three weeks of school and limits the testing window to three weeks, except for the 3rd grade reading test.
According to the Common Ground bill summary, the bill also has two other major flaws. (See other excellent analysis HERE):
It appears to tie FSA passing level 3 to NAEP proficiency which is much higher than grade level achievement, (described by the US Department of Education as "aspirational") and will result, according to the Florida DOE, in a drop from 51% to 39% passing for the fourth grade reading. This idea was rejected by the State Board of Education in a 6-1 vote last year. This will have a devastating effect on 3rd grade promotion and high school graduation rates, school grades, property values, and if property values decline due to worsening school grades, it will greatly harm Florida's economy and revenue to school districts and the state.
SB 926 also allows the expansion of competency-based education (CBE) to every district in the state. No expansion of CBE should be considered until data from the pilot districts becomes available. CBE programs result in data mining, career tracking, psychological profiling, and will harm the teacher-student interaction. (See details HERE). Already, Lake County, one of the pilot districts, is considering halting the program due to scant evidence of improvement at a very high cost of 2.5 million dollars per year.

The bill has only one co-sponsor, Rob Bradley, a Republican. The only groups testifying in favor of this bill were the Foundation for Florida's Future and the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, the latter of which used to support the things in Senator Montford's bill, but now seems to have joined the Bush Common Core and testing establishment along with the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of 100 and other corporate education reform groups.

Speaking against the bill were the three ladies from Common Ground listed above. They testified about the NAEP score and CBE issues. Catherine Baer's testimony also pointed out the issues related to the promotion of this bill by Bush's foundation and that testimony was picked up by multiple media outlets:

"It's not a bipartisan bill," said Catherine Baer, chairwoman of The Tea Party Network and part of a coalition backing stronger legislation. "It's been put forward by former Governor Bush's foundation. The foundation's educational philosophy has been soundly rejected by parents in the state of Florida and across the United States."
Now it appears that Senate Leadership is siding with the Flores bill as that is the only one of the two on Monday's (3/27) agenda for an actual vote. It is up to parents to once again stand against the Bush philosophy of education and protect the hearts, minds, and futures of their children.

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