"School Board Should Reject Common Core"

Dr. Effrem's article appeared in the Charlotte Sun on July 6, 2013

I would like to thank the Charlotte County School Board on behalf of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition for inviting the public to the Thursday, June 20th board workshop.   However, our district is in year three of a four year implementation plan and the public, teachers, and the school board have received very little information about how the Common Core Standards will affect our district.  Here is what our coalition has discovered:

The Common Core standards are national standards that, despite being portrayed as rigorous, will likely not improve academic performance. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, commonly cited by Common Core proponents as an authority on the quality of state standards, rated Florida's current math and English standards roughly the same as the Common Core.  If the current Florida standards resulting in such high remediation rates are basically equivalent to Common Core, how will these new standards help? Why spend another projected $1 billion of scarce funds for standards that will probably not improve anything?

This is especially true when Charlotte County has to cut important programs like physical education to pay for expensive technology to double the testing time for these high stakes tests based on standards of questionable value. Superintendent Whitaker asked the important question, "How do we get the state to move away from the obsession on tests and test design (and) the incredible amount of money that has been spent on that?"

The district will likely have little choice in curriculum. The federally funded and supervised national tests and model curriculum accompanying the Common Core standards will drive curriculum, because stakes are so high for test results, including graduation, teacher pay, and district funding. Districts will choose curriculum closest to the federal model to obtain the highest tests results possible in order to maintain funding.  The national tests are aligned to Common Core, NOT the 15% standards the states were "allowed" to add after being required to adopt 100% of Common Core verbatim. Arguments about flexibility or that "teaching to the test" occurring under the FCATs will go away are not logical. 

Despite the recently passed education law requiring Common Core test implementation to be based on "funding, sufficient field and baseline data, access to assessments, instructional alignment, and school district readiness to administer the common core assessments online," there is no flexibility.  We appreciate the candor of Superintendent Whitaker and Board Chairman Swift who both stated that despite raising concerns the very issues listed in the statute, appointed Commissioner Bennett and his appointed State Board of Education were ignoring concerns of elected school boards across the state, telling them to fully implement Common Core no matter what.

This is shocking.  Our elected school board is being forced to implement a program about which they have received little information and inadequate time and funds to put in place.   Either the legislature needs to require that the SBOE and commissioner be elected and accountable to the people or they need to admit that county school boards have absolutely no role in educational policy, dissolve them, and save the taxpayers the money spent on salaries and benefits.  This of course, would be admitting the truth - Common Core allows for no local control or input.
Finally, Board Member Rendell's assertion that concerns about invasive data collection being "false" requires response.  The state longitudinal data system that links to the federal and state government databases, and will be available to corporations and outside researchers, was required as part of the Race to the Top grant that Florida received.  This data system will link test results for Common Core to 300-400 points of other very private data, like iris scanning that occurred in Polk County without parental consent.  This womb to tomb dossier will make the NSA's data collection look tame.

There is nothing rigorous, voluntary, or locally controlled about the Common Core system and it should be rejected.

 Karen R. Effrem, MD, is president of Education Liberty Watch. Contact her at dockaren@ed libertywatch.org.

Excellent Charlotte Sun Column on Common Core by Dave Eastwood

This article appeared in the Charlotte Sun on July 6th 2013

There are revolutionary changes coming to a classroom near you, Common Core State Standards.  Some endorses are Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, U. S. Chamber of Commerce, The United States Army, National PTA, and the U. S. Department of Education. The Gates have poured millions into CCSS a software driven program.  Textbook publishers are behind Common Core due to the huge new income potential.. A receipient of Gates money Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education.  GE Foundation, Blooomberg Phanthropies, and the Walton Family Foundation are contributors. It's motto is, "To build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-Given potential.  Jeb and Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor, District of Columbia schools, were recently in Michigan lobbying for the implementation  of Common Core curriculum and testing.  Michelle was paid $50,000 and expenses for her appearance. 
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Why is this important to Charlotte County?  Because Florida is one of the Forty-five states has voted to implement CCSS.  Common Cores Mission Statement is: "The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.  With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy".
On 6-20 Jill Stine of The Common Core Institute made a three hour presentation to the local school board and the Superintendent Dr. Doug Whittaker. Dr. Whittaker: "The school board requested a training session with everyone there so they all heard the same information and had an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. When information is simply read, it is too easy to layer personal opinion in with the intended message of the original writer. Additionally, there is no opportunity to ask for clarification or further elaboration if part of the message is not clear or easily understood." Visit the school's web site, www.yourcharlotteschools.net to view numerous links to Common Core to see items such as Leadership, Teachers, Parents, CCSS In The Classroom, and Teaching Videos. The following questions were asked of Dr. Whittaker.  1) What is the current status of Common Core within the district? "We are required by Florida Statute to begin teaching the full Common Core this August." 2) Why wasn't the group opposed to Common Core SS given an opportunity to make a presentation?  "My reply is simple. If the board was wrestling with whether or not to implement the common core, there would have been time and opportunity made for a debate/discussion around the issue. As it is, we were required to implement the math and language arts Common Core in grades K through 3 this past year and grades K through 12 this coming year. To debate the merits of common core or any options about implementation would have misled the public into thinking that their input would have some bearing on the implementation. As it is, implementation is required by law and the School Board and I swore in a public oath that we would support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and the State of Florida. Included in this pledge is the expectation and understanding that we will obey the laws passed by the government of Florida".
One of the two main areas initially to be addressed in CCSS will be reading.  Non fiction reading will be the key to enable students to have the ability to read for example complex technical manuals. According  to CCSS the current method of teaching reading is inadequate. Computer will be used for testing.   Test results and school evaluations will be made available to other interested parties aside from school and parents use.
This is part one of a two part series on Common Core State Standards. Part two will deal with the opposition to CCSS.

Common Core Rules of Engagement

The following was presented by Randy Osborne during the highly successful Stop Common Core training and protest in Orlando on June 29th.  Randy is a lobbyist for Florida Eagle Forum, Heartland Research, and our coalition, as well as a political consultant, and Marion County Republican chairman.

Common Core Suggested Rules of Engagement

1.  Any information that is communicated in email, Facebook, Twitter, telephone, or blogs needs to be 100 percent accurate. Verify, verify, verify. The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition fact checks their information from several sources prior to submitting in any media venues to insure the accuracy of the statements being made.
2.  When meeting with legislators be respectful. Yelling or being rude will shut them down from any     meaningful communication. Address them as "Representative ____" or "Senator _______" .  Thank them for their time. 
3.  Prepare how you're going to approach the issue you are going to be addressing. Always do your           homework prior to meeting with your legislator. 
4.   Whenever possible, call and ask for an appointment to meet with your legislator.
5.  When talking to the legislators stay on single issue topics. If you are communicating your concerns with Common Core, do not get into other universal problems. Stay on specific topics.
6.  If you do not know how to answer a question that your legislators ask, let them know that you will follow up and get the answer. This gives you another opportunity to meet with them or their aides about your subject.
7.  Bring an information card with you so the legislator's office can follow up with you on an issue they may have had.
8.  When possible bring small groups with you. Legislators are more apt to listen when they believe there are numbers of constituents that are supporting the same issue.

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