Anti-CCSS Activist Kemple Battles Chamber Endorsed Snively in Hillsborough time anti-Common Core activist Terry Kemple is seeking a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board.  His opponent is Melissa Snively, a businesswoman and chairwoman of a local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce who has endorsed her.  The state and national Chamber is extremely supportive of Common Core. 

Here is what the Tampa Tribune says about Kemple's stand regarding Common Core:

Photo Credit Tampa Tribune

Kemple opposes the new Florida Standards and the new state tests that come with them.
If elected, he said he would lobby legislators to get rid of the language arts and math education goals, which are based on the Common Core State Standards adopted by most states and designed to better prepare students for college and careers.

"I think we need to do everything possible to influence the Legislature to slow down the train and ultimately stop Common Core," Kemple said, adding that the school district needs a contingency plan for how to scale back use of the standards if they are dropped.

"I think it's detrimental to the educational process in America. I really want to see decision-making and control move back to the local community and away from Tallahassee and D.C."

Kemple has participated in many anti-Common Core meetings, press conferences, and forums while actively working to see them removed, 

Here is their discussion of Sniveley's position on Common Core:
Photo Credit - Tampa Bay Times

She, too, wants to see changes made to the new standards and the tests that go along with them.

"Parents are concerned about what's going to be on the test and how it's going to be scored," Snively said. "I'm up for the challenge of working with the state Legislature to either opt out completely or make significant changes to the assessments. However, we have to realize there are consequences if we try as a county to opt out without getting the support of the Legislature."

However, as Kemple points out in his campaign piece contrasting himself and his opponent, her efforts against the standards and tests have not been particularly strong:

"Says she opposes Common Core (CC) but is endorsed by CC leadership [Chamber]; has not taken any action to stop it"

This relates to the four important questions that should be asked of every candidate when it comes to Common Core:
1) Do you support Common Core (many are likely to say "No")

2) Do you believe that Common Core is out of the state of Florida as Governor Scott and Jeb Bush have proclaimed?

3) If you think Common Core is still in Florida, what will you do to see it removed?

4)  If you oppose Common Core, what did you do during the last year to get rid of it? (for incumbents, some of whom supported an anti-Common Core bill in the legislature after they knew it was dead)

It is important to understand a candidate's level of commitment to getting rid of these standards and tests.




Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as HIllsborough County School Board, Melissa Snively, Terry Kemple.

Bush Foundation & Gubernatorial Candidates Try to Deal with Testing Issue

Former Governor Jeb Bush's foundation and all three gubernatorial candidates have put out statements on high stakes testing. These tests are related to the implementation of Common Core, renamed as the Florida Standards.

As the tsunami of opposition to the developmentally inappropriate, invasive and expensive high stakes testing scheme associated with Common Core continues to build, Jeb Bush's foundation is running for cover and trying to back off some of the tests.  Executive Director Patricia Levesque wrote a letter posted on Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education website that first tries to defend all of the testing:

Schools have the freedom to teach however they think is best. But standardized tests ensure schools teach all children to the same high expectations. Without them, history shows some schools set lower expectations for some students. And we shouldn't have a system that discriminates. (Emphasis in original)

The problem is that there is little evidence historically that statewide standards and tests mandated by the federal government have worked. to improve achievement or close the achievement gap. Despite spending $2 trillion dollars at the federal level, student achievement has remained stagnant and the achievement gap is essentially unchanged:

Other research by Neal McCluskey of Cato  reveals that the US does both better and worse on international comparisons than nations with national education standards. Research by Dr. Chris Tienken of Seton Hall University shows that the US leads the world in innovation and entrepreneurialism without national standards.

Levesque later admits that excessive testing is a problem and throws a bone to parents:

While I strongly believe in tests, I agree there is such a thing as too many tests...Tests need to serve a purpose and not simply take up valuable classroom time.  It's refreshing to see that some districts are reviewing their local tests. And we would encourage the state to also do a review to see if there are duplicative tests that could be eliminated. (Emphasis in original)

In his campaign plan, Governor Scott has promised just such a review of the testing scheme should he be re-elected:

Governor Scott will direct the Commissioner of Education to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation of every standardized test that school districts are requiring their students to take.

Charlie Crist infers that there are testing and implementation problems with Common Core:
And we must give teachers the flexibility to teach. Testing should exist to make sure kids are learning and growing not as a substitute for teaching.

When it comes to curriculum, Charlie supports the Common Core standards, but he wants to work with parents to make sure they are implemented in a way that works for Florida schools.

Adrian Wyllie is straight forward about the dangers of and his opposition to Common Core related tests and standards:

This issue of testing based on the very controversial standards and the associated data collection will be an enormous issue in the next legislative session regardless of who wins the governorship and may well also be a factor in the Republican presidential nomination.

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Adrian Wyllie, Charlie Crist, high stakes testing, Jeb Bush, Patricia Lavesque, Rick Scott.

Volusia County School Board Candidate John Hill Discussion of Common Core Tests

As a Family Physician I have a responsibility to plainly communicate with my patients about their health and their responsibilities to maintain their good health.  A clear and concise message to each patient helps them follow my recommendations and maintain wellness. My approach to Common Core is to both study and understand this complex program and provide leadership...and some understanding to the families who will ultimately have to live with it.

After having read much on the issue, I think I have found one simple statement that sums up the concerns of implementing Common Core.  The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss has brought out a clear point in her article that references "The white paper, called "The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on our Public Schools," was just released by the Central Florida School Board Coalition, a group of top officials from 10 school districts."(April 18,2012)
The article states:
In 1998 (after its initial field testing), the first FCAT was field tested in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 in reading and math and the first Florida Writes exam was tested in grades 4, 8, and 10. As of 2011, testing has progressed to include:
FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10
FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10
 FCAT 2.0 Math in grades 3 8
FCAT Writing in grades 4, 8, and 10
FCAT Science in grades 5, 8, and 11
FAIR testing (K-2) one to one with teacher  
FAIR testing (3-12) computer based testing
NAEP in grades 4, 8, and 12
EOC Algebra 1 in grades 8, 9, and 10
EOC Biology in grade 8
EOC Geometry in grade 10
U.S. History in grade 11
PERT Math in grade 11
PERT Reading in grade 11
PERT Writing in grade 11
FCAT Reading & Math retakes through grade 12
PERT retakes through grade 12
An enormous increase simply in the sheer quantity of testing has occurred in the State of Florida within the last decade and a half.  Moreover, the use of the results of tests has changed.  For example, as of 1999, FCAT results assign school grades. In 2001, the Florida State Board of Education established the FCAT passing score as a requirement of the regular high school diploma. In 2002, AYP (as part of the NCLB law expectation of one hundred percent proficiency. by 2014) was added to as part of the school score.                                        

Student performance bars have been subsequently raised to set passing scores for class. Students are required to have a passing score for class credit in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Biology, and required passing scores for college class placements. Arguably, the standards have become too high to actually meet.                                                                                                                       
In 2011 only 39% of 10th grade students passed the FCAT 2.0 Reading. This has also come to include mandated grade retentions, mandated additional instructional time, and mandated intensive remediation classes for students in middle and high school levels. Additionally, school grades now include FCAT Science grades, learning gains within the lowest twenty-fifth percentile, graduation rates, and accelerated coursework offerings. Within the last fifteen years, the sheer quantity of testing, the standards of passing, and the use of testing have increased well beyond their initial beginnings and limits.

Presenting this time line of events that the Florida State's FCAT program developed it wise to endorse the Federal government's attempt at standardized learning with their track record of IRS scandals, immigration failure, public health care that has rules that change by the week, restrictions on public information and the government's shocking approach to veterans...will they treat our children with the same indifference?

I don't think it is a wise decision to accept the Federal Program (Common Core) considering the track record it has had.
My patients can understand...too much government is not healthy for them.
Dr. John Hill
School Board Candidate for Volusia County School Dist. 1

Final Note from the article
The Florida Department of Education's stated purposes of student assessment testing programs do not align with the current actual uses of its programs. According to the FDOE website, FCAT "was designed to measure achievement of the Sunshine State Standards." Moreover, the stated primary goal of these assessments is to "provide information needed to improve the public schools by enhancing the learning gains of all students and to inform parents of the educational progress of their public school children." Neither of these goals refers to assigning eligibility or grades for the students or assessing the public schools based on these assessments; they only discuss the informing of students' progress and achievements. These stated goals are not negative in content; rather they simply do not match the current functions and usage of Florida's student assessment testing. They were not intended to be punitive but are used as such.

...will the Federal government's "Common Core" be any different...or worse?

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Common Core, Dr. John Hill, FAIR, FCAT, NAEP, PERT, testing, Volusia County.

Florida Moms Continue to Point Out Dangers of Common Core

Lake County mothers are continuing to take up the challenge of explaining to Governor Scott the very real dangers of Common Core and the distress to their children.  Here are some photos:


Christine Morris Magnifico was at one of Governor Scott's campaign stops in Lake County showing him second grade homework biased toward global warming and the following letter from a third grader to his teacher:

Particularly sad are the last three sentences that say:
"Also, when ever I'm on a test and I need help, she mostly tells me the answer.  It makes me feel not smart.  I feel unteachable and a failure."

While not presented to the governor, here is a picture of another very sad  note written by a young child suffering the cinfusion, despair, and loss of the joy of learning caused by Common Core to his/her mother. 

Here is a set of quotes from parents and teachers at a Palm Beach Post article from a meeting of the Palm Beach County School Board to listen to concerns about the Common Core/Florida Standards:
Hours to prep for computerized testing of kindergartners. "I watched a student suffer for over an hour. They had no idea how to work the computer mouse."  Five teachers, working one-on-one with students got only 10 of 120 students done in one school day. "That night I went home and cried."   Chris White, teacher at a Title 1 elementary school
Children don't know the language what's 'drag and drop' to a child who's not worked on a computer? . The books were designed to go with one test, we're using another. Karla Yurick, 5th grade math teacher

"I can't sign on. This just crashed. I can't highlight." things heard in one teacher's middle school classroom when students attempt online testing.

"They're actually calling this Common Core disorder," says parent Tammi Haber. She adds "Solving a simple math problem in 15 steps. What's the point of that? "
"I was never tested and I was just fine," parent.

"Every single day my little boy comes home: I'm stupid. I'm an idiot. I'm useless because I didn't do good on this assessment test." mother of son in third grade. Also, "He begs me, mommy, please home-school me... His anxiety level at 8 years old is through the roof. He's so afraid he's not going to pass."
"He's so stressed, he's so disengaged. He's miserable. We have done nothing fun for any weekend" since school began Tina Blauvelt, mother of 4th and 8th graders. The eighth grader excelled in seventh-grade math, and on last year's FCAT. This year, in algebra and failing.  "They took the kid right out of the kid," says Bruce Blauvelt.

It is obvious that the Common Core standards and tests and the way they are being implemented is a disaster and extremely harmful to our students, especially the younger ones.  Whoever becomes governor will have a lot of work to do.

Posted in Problems of Common Core. Tagged as distress of children, Palm Beach, Rick Scott, technical problems with tests, testing of kindergartners.

Don Armstrong & Lee Board Make Sure CCSS Tests Do Not Interfere with 911 Remembrance

The Lee County School board acted strongly  and rightly in response to the very sad and quite maddening story we reported last month about the teacher who was told not to teach anything about 9-11 to his students because it took too much time for Common Core related test prep.

According to Fox 4 News, Don Armstrong offered a resolution to require at least ten minutes of discussion and teaching on 9-11 on the anniversary of the event every year.  He said in an interview:

"It's important for these students more than anything. These students have a right to know what's going on on the anniversary of 9/11," Armstrong said.

And his motion is getting national attention: he's been asked to speak on Fox and Friends in the next week.

"I'm honored to bring something like this forward at the school board meeting, to get it passed, to hit national, to honor our veterans, our police, our firefighters," Armstrong told Four in Your Corner's Lisa Greenberg.

The resolution passed unanimously.  Kudos to Mr. Armstrong and the board.

Posted in Curriculum. Tagged as 9-11, Don Armstrong, Lee County School Board.

New Gallup Poll - Support for Common Core Continues to Erode

The Gallup poll that we reported back in August continues to show that support for Common Core is breaking down.  There has been 7% more negative views since an April poll and 2% fewer positive views for a swing of 9% against the standards:

Parents of U.S. public school students in grades K-12 are about evenly divided over the Common Core State Standards. Thirty-five percent view them negatively and 33% view them positively, while another third aren't familiar with them or don't have an opinion. This reflects a slight shift since April, when parents were slightly more positive (35%) than negative (28%).

Opposition has really solidified among Republican parents, while support among Democrat parents is described as "tepid."

The majority of Republican parents -- 58% -- now hold a negative view of Common Core, up from 42% in April, and leaving just 19% viewing it positively. Additionally, significantly more Republicans now have a very negative view of Common Core than a somewhat negative view, 35% vs. 23%...

...Meanwhile, Democratic parents remain in favor of Common Core by about 2-to-1, with 48% viewing it positively and 23% negatively, similar to their views in April. However, unlike Republican opposition, which is relatively strong, Democrats' support is tepid, with most supporters saying they have a somewhat rather than a very positive view of it, 37% vs. 11%.

Gallup then notes that Common Core is playing a huge role in governors' races across the nation, mentioning both Rick Scott and Jeb Bush in Florida and the trouble they are both in due to Common Core:

Common Core has been an issue in many of the gubernatorial elections taking place this November, the outcomes of which could affect how the standards are implemented -- if at all. In New York and Connecticut, the rollout of Common Core has become an issue for the Democratic governors who supported it, and has given some ammunition to their Republican challengers who oppose the initiative.In Florida, meanwhile, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has said he is opposed to Common Core but has received flak for not waging political war on the initiative. His stance is further complicated by former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's support for the standards -- a rogue stance for a prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidate. In some states, an attempt to repeal Common Core is underway -- such as Pennsylvania, where vulnerable Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has reversed his support for the initiative. (Emphasis added)

While parents' attitudes about Common Core have soured a bit since April, most of that shift comes from solidifying opposition among Republicans. This likely means that leaders in Republican states will continue to feel grassroots pressure to resist the standards, even if implementation proceeds apace elsewhere. However, without a larger proportion of Democratic parents backing the initiative, it's conceivable that serious repeal efforts could take hold anywhere.

Gubernatorial candidates of both parties and potential presidential candidates are having significant difficulties when it comes to Common Core,


Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as Connecticut; resistance, Gallup poll; Jeb Bush, New York, Pennsylvania, Rick Scott, Tom Corbett.

Senator Hayes Describes Horrific Effects of Common Core on his Grandaughter

This video of Florida Senator Alan Hayes (R-Umatilla) speaking to the Lake County School Board shows more of the many and severe problems with Common Core and how developmentally inappropriate and confusing Common Core math is for children and for their families.  Perhaps if more legislators had to do math by these ridiculous methods, Common Core's demise would be hastened.  We thank Senator Hayes for his willingness to take a stand. (Senator Hayes' speech starts at about 6:30)


Posted in Standards. Tagged as Common Core math, Lake County, Senator Alan Hayes.

Bush Ad for Scott Conspicuously Avoids Common Core

#StopJebNow Congratulations! We are winning! Any talk of standards and testing has become radioactive in the Florida governor's race.  While the new 30 second ad by former Governor Jeb Bush cut for Governor Scott mentions education, any discussion of Common Core or even "high standards" is conspicuously absent.  We are sure the Scott campaign pleaded with Bush to go nowhere near that controversial subject.  If Bush can't even mention his favorite topic in his home state, hopefully this sends a strong message to him that he will have little support even in Florida as he contemplates a 2016 presidential run.

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as 2014, 2016, campaign ad, Common Core, Jeb Bush, Rick Scott.

Homeschooling Mom Warns Governor His Re-Election is in Danger Due to CCSS

Debbie Higgenbotham, homeschooling mother of seven children and anti-Common Core warrior via the group Florida Parents R.I.S.E. which she co-founded, recently met Governor Scott on a campaign stop and was able to tell him how dangerous his refusal to deal honestly with Common Core is for children and for his re-election:

I had the opportunity to meet the Governor on one of his campaign stops at a pizzeria in St. John's County. Since we home school our kids, it was a great opportunity for a field trip to experience what it means to be involved and educated on issues that concern our state. We were expecting to see a large crowd surrounding the building when we drove up but to our surprise there was hardly anyone there. Finding a parking space was fairly easy. With lots of smiling faces we made our way to two booths in the restaurant. My good friends, Dru Faulk and Leanne King, were already there and getting acquainted with the other people who were there.

After the speech was done we were one of the first to join the Governor for a quick picture. The Governor was awed at the fact that these were all my children and that there were 7 of them. And also how well behaved they were. He made some small talk with the kids. He bent down to have a better conversation with them which I thought was genuine. He even held the baby who was reaching for him at one point. As we stood there posing for pictures and chatting I started my plea. I started by saying that we were a home schooling family and he seemed impressed by that. He made the comment that he is trying to convince his daughter to home school his grand-kids.  I was stunned by that but encouraged him to keep talking with her about it. But I revealed why we were home schooling, and that was because of Common Core. I was working hard with everyone I could to get rid of Common Core and the federal mandates from our schools. Until then, none of my children will return to any classroom.

I handed him a packet of information which Dru had put together. He asked me if I had ever met or talked with Kim McDougal, his education adviser, and I assured him that she and I were well acquainted and that I have had conversations with Pam Stewart on multiple occasions. He then asked me if I had talked with Gary Chartrand and I informed him that Gary Chartrand refuses to answer any more of my e-mails. His jaw dropped with absolute shock at what I said. I think he was disappointed at my answer.
I remember saying to him that these were my children and they are my gifts that I treasure and I want the absolute best for them and what Florida has in place in educating our children was far from the best. In continuing with my plea, I explained to him that most parents across the state feel that our legitimate concerns were not reaching him personally with the urgency we felt necessary. Parents felt that that the messages were being watered down and the governor was not getting the real truth from Pam Stewart and Kim McDougal on the detriment of Common Core and the assessments that will be taking place this year.  I told him that AIR needed to be looked at and truly investigated as being our contracted testing agency and that Pam Stewart alone should not have the authority to hire agencies without proper vetting.
I firmly took his arm and told him that I didn't want him to have to look his grandchildren in the eye in 5-7 years and tell them he had the opportunity to fix this and he didn't and it resulted in their education being screwed up.  By then Kim McDougal was telling us we needed to wrap it up. I closed by telling him that I wanted a seat at the table of the committee he was forming but also to be looking at doing something now because there are a lot of people who will not vote for him if he continues to not take a stance on this issue of Common Core and all its tentacles wrapped around Florida. By looking at the expression on his face I could tell he wanted to talk more, but he could only respond with saying that he couldn't really do much until after the election.

In closing, I thanked him for his time and urged him to call me to have a casual conversation about what I had handed him in the packet. None of us were out to ruin him but we wanted to help him. The visit was longer than I had expected and I was able to say what I thought I needed to. He is a very nice man who truly wants to do the right thing but unfortunately his hands are truly tied with the strings Jeb Bush and the Republican Party have on him. Also I don't think he has all the information in order to make an informed policy change on Common Core.

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as Debbie Higgenbotham, Gary Chartrand, homeschooling, Jeb Bush, Pam Stewart, re-election, Rick Scott.

Rand Paul Warns Other Potential 2016 Contenders about Dangers of CCSS

Photo Credit - Breitbart New

During an interview with Breitbart News at a North Carolina campaign stop, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul explained his opposition to Common Core:

"I don't think there's really a constitutional role for the federal government in education. So I'm not for a national curriculum," Paul said, adding:
"I think the danger of having one central governmental authority deciding curriculum is what if we get some people who decide we really need to treat Karl Marx fairly, we need to make sure he gets a good writeup in the history and Adam Smith, oh gosh, he was terrible. You can see how once it's nationalized, one person can insert a bias into the curriculum, and it goes everywhere, and then you have to fight it. Should your local school district have to fight Washington, or shouldn't you have to go to a school board member and say, "Should we have that in our textbooks?" So more local control is better. And different parts of the country might choose different curriculums--and North Carolina is more conservative, so my guess is they might have a little bit different curriculum than San Francisco."

While not mentioning Jeb Bush by name, he had a harsh warning for potential 2016 presidential contenders on Common Core

"I don't see Common Core being--if you're for Common Core and you're for a national curriculum, I don't see it being a winning message in a Republican primary," Paul said in an interview backstage at an event where he endorsed Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) for reelection. "If there's a Republican candidate out there--let's just say there's a hypothetical one that's for Common Core. I'm saying that that hypothetical candidate that's for Common Core probably doesn't have much chance of winning in a Republican primary."
The article went on to describe Jeb Bush's awkward campaign appearance for Thom Tillis related to Common Core and immigration where Tillis had to distance himself from Bush that we have also reported. Writer Matthew Boyle then describes the position of other potential Republican contestants on the standards:

Other potential GOP 2016 candidates have supported Common Core also, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who now says he's against it since it has departed from what he says was its original purpose, and Indiana's Gov. Mike Pence, who has tussled with conservative activists over the program. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has backed the program somewhat, issuing an executive order to create a panel to determine the program's effectiveness--a panel that anti-Common Core leaders have heavily criticized.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has also walked a tough line on the education issue, having earlier this year created a commission to "revisit" the Common Core standards, but has since called for the repeal of the standards in his state.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has come out swinging against Common Core, but his embrace of the Senate's "Gang of Eight" immigration bill that granted amnesty to illegal aliens has already taken its toll on him in polls. He has since distanced himself from that immigration bill and actively worked against any efforts to pass his own bill through the House after it passed the Senate.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has come out strong against Common Core, and under his leadership, Texas was one of only five U.S. states to never sign onto the program. That makes Rubio, Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Paul the only likely 2016 presidential candidates who have not waffled on the issue to be seriously vying for the 2016 GOP nomination--a smart battlefield for Paul to seek out and define early.
Ted Cruz came to Florida and spoke harshly against  Common Core in Jeb Bush's Back yard of Miami. Boyle does leave out Bobby Jindal who once was for the standards, but is now suing the federal government.  However, the point is clear: Pro-Common Core candidates are likely to have a very hard time in the Republican primaries.  Let us hope that Jeb heeds the warning. #StopJebNow.

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as , Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz.

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