Florida Voters' Number One Political Issue- Stopping the Common Core Machine

Randy Osborne

The political tsunami has begun against those politicians who refuse to listen to Florida's voters (parents and grandparents of our children).  In a landslide, "the outsider, Curt Clawson" beat the establishment's political machine in congressional district 19 's special election, Republican primary, with a simple but honest message. As The Shark Tank editoralized:
"The political newbie's genuine pro-life, anti-Common Core, and economic prosperity message,which garnered him the endorsement of the conservative Eagle Forum and Senator Rand Paul, proved too much for Lizbeth Benacquisto, Paige Kreegel, and Michael Dreikorn to collectively overcome." 

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's endorsement along with those coming from various other conservative organizations, created the contrast between Curt Clawson and Lizbeth Benacquisto on the Common Core issue.  Benaquisto was a major endorser of the Common Core standards and as a state senator, she sponsored several pro-Common Core bills in the last legislative session.  In her  congressional race she flipped to opposition of CC and actually sponsored Representative Mayfield's companion Senate bill, SB 1316.

However, the voters weren't buying the "re-package" and found a candidate that understood the issues of the federal overreach of Florida's education system. Clawson with 38% to Benacquisto's 26%, won by a statistical landslide.


This should be a warning that Florida voters will not accept :
  • Changing the name of Common Core to deceive the public.
  • Changing less then 5% of the standards to call them "our standards"
  • Informing the public that the state is no longer accepting federal funding for Common Core. ( the "Race to the Top" grant is running out)
  • Choosing the American Institutes for Research (AIR) for the state's testing, which is a social engineering organization is not an academic testing organization. They have more expertise on how to "sell" the LGBT lifestyle then academic testing. 
  • Deceiving the public by announcing that Florida is out of Common Core.
  • The House and Senate leadership blocking and preventing any bill to even be heard that would truly pause or stop Common Core in the state.
Call the Governor's Office at (850) 717-9337 and ask Governor Scott to:
  • Rrepeal the Common Core standards in the State of Florida. 
  • Reinstate the previous Next Generation Sunshine State Standards until we are able to truly develop our own.
  • Cancel the contract with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and hold those accountable for contracting with this type of organization.


Florida's Common Core Standards Policy Analysis Now Available


Florida's Common Core Standards Policy Analysis books are now available in quantity with the following pricing:
1-49----------------------$5.00 Each
50-500-------------------$2.50 Each

These analyses are specific to Florida's Common Core Standards and need to be read by all parents, grandparents of students, and legislators.  These analyses have been heavily documented and footnoted.  
You may order online or by contacting me by email at randyo.rec@gmail.com.

CD 19 Candidate Debate - Benaquisto Wants to Work Within FedEd System, Others Want Out

The April 9th debate between businessman Curt Clawson, Dr. Page Kreegel, Dr. Michael Dreikorn, and Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto covered a wide range of topics, but the exchanges on education were particularly revealing.  The entire podcast is available HERE.  The questions on education start at 45:28.   Here are some highlights:

Dr. Michael Dreikorn rightly discussed the tenth amendment and how education is not supposed to be a federal initiative and that Common Core was particularly problematic that way.  He also mentioned that he would oppose the data collection under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that does not really protect data.

Dr.  Page Kreegel also clearly stated his opposition to Common Core, decried the federal interference, and spoke about his desire to close down the entire US Department of Education, saving taxpayer about $80 billion per year.

Mr. Curt Clawson, when asked by Daybreak host Drew Steele, what the federal role in education should be stated thate was "one hundred percent against Common Core" and rightly stated that education should be determined by local districts and states.  This statement was agreed to by Dr. Kreegel.

Senator Benaquisto, when chiming in on the federal control question, didn't talk about the tenth amendment or getting rid of the US Department of Education.  Instead, she just wanted to get the money sent from the feds to the states as block grants.  When asked by Drew Steele, "So, a block grant from the federal government, Is that not still federal involvement?" she condescendingly replied (51:57), "Well, we send an extraordinary number of tax dollars to the federal government.  They're your dollars.  If you want to just let them keep them, I suppose we could do that, but I'd rather have them sent back to us where we control the decision making, we devise the plans."  She also talked about the various "lipstick on a pig" measures the legislature has passed to give the appearance of doing something about Common Core and her co-sponsorship of the SB 1316 even though she has done nothing to move the bill in her position as majority leader.

Dr. Karen Effrem was interviewed by Drew Steele the next day to discuss the ongoing efforts by the state to cover up issues with Common Core, the debate, and their interaction with Senator Benaquisto.

Voters in CD 19 will have to decide if they want their representative to continue to work within the unconstitutional federal education system or to stand up for state sovereignty and work to get rid of that awful agency and the programs like Common Core, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and other, invasive, expensive programs.  We prefer the former and were not reassured by Senator Benaquisto's answers.

Response to Common Core Talking Points from Majority Leader's Office

Response to Leadership's Education Accountability Memo
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc.

The following is a response to the summary "messaging points" of the  Education Accountability Update published by the Office of the House Majority Leader on March 21st after Pam Stewart chose the controversial AIR test for Florida.

1) "The Legislative leadership was among the first to state that Florida should withdraw immediately from PARCC."
Florida has only given up its fiscal agent role.  It is still part of the PARCC consortium, and could theoretically go back to using the PARCC test. All five of the organizations that participated in the ITN were developing tests that are fully Common Core aligned.  Choosing an organization that is developing the Common Core tests for the other federally funded, federally supervised national Common Core testing consortium (SBAC) is not exactly a switch of significance. [UPDATE: Florida is no longer part of PARCC. The state was dropped from the list after Commissioner Stewart chose the controversial firm AIR to give the test.  Florida never formally withdrew from the consortium]
2) "The proposed standards are designed to equip Florida's students to be college and career ready upon graduation from high school."
These standards have never been field tested anywhere.  The states that have started using them and tested them have seen dramatic drops in scores.  There was no K-12 classroom teacher involvement until well after the main part of the standards was written.  The five main writers of the standards had zero k-12 classroom experience and only two of them had experience writing standards.
David Coleman, now head of the College Board that writes the SAT test, admitted, "One is we're composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards...I probably spend a little more time on literacy because as weak as my qualifications are there, in math they're even more desperate in their lacking."
Jason Zimba, one of those five major authors and the main architect of the math standards admitted what "college readiness" really means at a Massachusetts State Board of Education meeting:
 "[Common Core is] not only not for STEM, it's also not for selective colleges."   
3) "The changes to the standards are tailored to the educational needs of Florida's students."
In the fall of 2010, the State Board of Education declared that they would not change or add to any of Common Core standards.  Florida changed only 98 out of 11,000 standards.  This is 0.9%, which means that even after all of that elaborate show of pretending to care what the public and experts think and want, the so-called Florida standards are still 99.1% Common Core.  The Department ignored the extensive comments of experts and many thousands of parents.  Even during the process, education officials admitted that the changes were going to be insignificant. And now, there is video of Speaker Weatherford admitting to the corporate elite of Florida that the plan all along was just to change the name, rendering the governor's executive order meaningless and the hearing and comment process a sham.
4) "The new assessment will accurately reflect the standings of our students according to the standards we have set."
All five of the testing companies that competed for the Florida contract are fully Common Core aligned.  The recent news stories by the East Orlando Post and WUSF show that the organization that won the $220 million testing contract, AIR (American Institutes for Research), are developing the test for SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), which is the other federally funded, federally supervised national testing consortium testing the national Common Core standards.  In addition, AIR bills itself as "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations." This is more evidence that psychological teaching and testing is part of Common Core and the standards, by whatever name they are deceptively being labeled that are taught and tested in Florida, despite the concerns raised in the governor's executive order. 

AIR is also involved in research on the GLBT lifestyle.

AIR is also intimately involved in data mining.  According to their website:
"The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) is now based at AIR's corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C...CALDER, which previously was located at the Urban Institute, strives to inform education policy development through analyses of data on individual students and teachers over time... CALDER studies a wide range of education policy research topics, including: state and local education finance, school accountability, standards and assessment, teacher recruitment and retention, teacher quality, school administration, child development, early childhood education... Currently, CALDER is working with data from Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C." (Emphasis added)

5) "The security of Florida's student-specific data will be safeguarded."
As documented since last year during the fight over SB 878, the infamous data mining bill, any "FERPA exceptions" render proposed data protections completely meaningless.  There is an entire section of the FERPA regulations titled "99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?" that is explained in detail in our response to the deceptive letter to Arne Duncan signed by 34 chief state school officers, including Pam Stewart, trying to give the impression that individual student data will not be given to the federal government, when both PARCC and SBAC clearly admit that it will be.  To be meaningful, any data protection bill must not be based on the non-existent protections in FERPA and must prohibit psychosocial teaching, testing and data collection.
6) "Teacher evaluations will fairly reflect individual job performance, including, in part, the academic growth and performance of each teacher's students".
Teachers will be subject to the data mining as admitted by AIR and held responsible for how well their students comply with the psychologically based Common Core tests based on the subjective, academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards.  Instead of being able to teach to each student's needs and abilities, teachers will have to teach everyone to the same level and follow uniform computerized or scripted curriculum.

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