Response to Jeb Bush's 11-20 Foundation Summit Speech

Karen R. Effrem, M.D. - Executive Director

Jeb Bush gave the keynote speech at his Foundation for Excellence in Education national education summit in Washington DC on November 19th.  He made an effort to soften his attacks on those who oppose Common Core by now saying he respects us and by shifting blame to the federal government.  As his remarks in Education Next on Common Core required a rebuttal, so too do his efforts to continue his unreasonable defense of Common Core.  Here is a response to some of his statements on Common Core from that speech:
JB:  This is why the debate over the Common Core State Standards has been troubling.

KRE:  What is really troubling is that you think these horrific standards that are academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative with their accompanying tests and invasive data collection system should just be imposed on the nation without a word of protest from the parents, students, and teachers that have to suffer under them.

JB: I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue.  Nobody in this debate has a bad motive.

KRE:  I suppose that we should be happy that you have changed your tune from this same speech a year ago when you called opposition to Common Core "political" and full of "conspiracy theories." However, everyone can see that it is you who are being political as you try to placate opposition while getting ready to run for president.

JB: And in my view, the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms.

KRE: There is nothing particularly rigorous about these standards. They are untested and not internationally benchmarked. Federally mandated state standards have done nothing in this country to improve achievement and several think tanks including the Brookings Institute say that national standards, particularly Common Core, will not improve achievement either.  Imposing these very problematic standards will only further denigrate our very troubled education system.

JB:  For those states choosing a path other than Common Core, I say this: Aim even bolder...raise standards and ask more of our students and the system.

KRE: It is not states that should be doing this via federal mandates, but rather parents, teachers, and duly elected school boards at the local level working to improve education without federal and state micromanaging.

JB:  Even if we don't all agree on Common Core, there are more important principles for us to agree on.

KRE:  The most important principles on which to agree are supporting the Constitution, parental and local control of education, and state sovereignty, all of which you, your father, and your brother have undermined for the last twenty-five years by the programs you have imposed or are pushing.

JB: First, parents would have the right to a full and competitive marketplace of school options. Neighborhood schools. Charter schools. Private schools. Blended and Virtual schools. Home schools. Children would be able to cross zip code lines, municipal lines and county lines into neighboring school districts. Families would be given a say over their children's teachers, and would be given the information needed to make those decisions.

KRE: This sounds wonderful - the universal voucher.  However, in the Bush world of accountability, all this would do is impose the public school Common Core standards, tests, and data collection system further on private and home schools.  This would destroy the last of the alternatives and escape hatches from Common Core and government/corporate control of education.

JB:  So if the federal government wants to play a role in reform, it should stop tying every education dollar to a rule written in Washington D.C...They should make more programs IDEA, Title One, early childhood programs into block grants that the states can deploy as they see fit, including vouchers to enhance state programs...Education should be a national priority, not turned into a federal program.

KRE: When you were advising the Romney campaign on education in 2012, you suggested that federal vouchers would require the federally mandated state tests for "accountability." This would be the federal imposition of the Common Core tests and therefore the standards on private and home schools. Federally funded and controlled universal vouchers are even more dangerously unconstitutional than those on the state level.  It is very interesting to see your new found opposition to federal control of education now as you get ready to run for president. Why are you only now starting to criticize federal interference in education when your father and brother were more responsible for increasing that interference than any other presidents in U.S. history before Barak Obama and while you happily imposed those mandates on Florida when you were governor without a word of protest?   

As depicted in the cartoon above, Jeb Bush seems to want to feed the children of Florida and America educational gruel via Common Core as he attempts to continue the Bush dynasty that makes himself educational sovereign while destroying  parental, local, and state sovereignty in the process.

Posted in Problems of Common Core. Tagged as Common Core, Dr. Karen Effrem, Foundation for Educational Excellence, Jeb Bush, testing.

Rebuttal to Jeb Bush's Remarks on Common Core in Education Next

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush discussed Common Core during an interview with Education Next.  Below is my response to his statements:

EN: You have been a steadfast supporter of the common core, even when others have become increasingly critical. Why? What do you say to critics?
JB: I support high academic standards. Period.

KRE: If you support high academic standards, then why do you support Common Core? They are untested; not rigorous; not internationally benchmarked; developed by one key architect who admitted the major authors were "unqualified;" admitted by another key architect to be inadequate for STEM majors in four year universities; admitted by the US DOE, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and other major groups to teach "social emotional learning," "mindsets,"" behaviors;" and are declared by 500 early childhood experts, as well as many content experts and psychologists to be developmentally inappropriate.  

JB: High academic standards are a basic element of reform. Yet, across the country, state standards have been abysmally low for too long, evidenced by the fact that 75 percent of high school graduates are not fully prepared for college or a good paying job. A recent study by the American Institutes for Research compared state standards with international assessments and found the difference between states with the highest and lowest standards was the equivalent of three to four grade levels.

KRE: There is no evidence that statewide or national standards improve academic performance.  Since the passage of the Improving America's Schools Act and Goals 2000, started by your father and completed by President Clinton in 1994, NAEP scores have either been stagnant or fallen. 


According to research by the Cato Institute, the U.S. does both better and worse on international achievement comparisons than nations that have national standards Additionally, according to research by Dr. Chris Tienken at Seton Hall University, the US far exceeds the nations that outperform American students on international comparisons with regard to entrepreneurship and innovation.   

JB: Low standards are a tactic that takes pressure off teachers unions by accepting mediocrity and failure for kids. Our children can achieve great things when we set high expectations for them.

KRE: Yes, teachers and local districts with parents, teachers and duly elected school boards should set high expectations for children, but state and national standards are unconstitutional and ineffective. Accountability should be to parents and local districts, not to the state and federal governments. The statewide tests used to comply with federal mandates are not available to teachers and parents to inform instruction and the myriad other tests that accompany them in preparation are consuming 30-50% of class time, narrowing the curricular offerings, tying up computer availability, collecting massive amounts of data that include psychological profiles on our children, and costing districts far too much.

JB: The Common Core State Standards are more rigorous standards than the great majority of states had in place previously. As Checker Finn once noted, they respect basic skills, mathematical computation, the conventions of the English language, good literature and America's founding documents.

KRE: So, do you and Chester Finn consider the pornographic novels The Bluest Eye, Dreaming in Cuban, In the Time of the Butterflies, and others on the official Common Core Appendix B recommended reading list "good literature"? Why does Appendix B only recommend the Preamble and the Bill of Rights when discussing the Constitution?  While the Common Core may "respect...mathematical computation;" it does not teach standard algorithms in the proper sequence, focuses far too much on process while denigrating accuracy, and delays or omits higher math in high school that will severely damage students' ability to pursue math and science related college majors at selective four year universities.   That is not rigorous and those are not high standards. 

JB:States are free to modify the Common Core State Standards or adopt their own individual standards, because academic standards are the prerogative of the states.

KRE:How are states free to modify beyond the 15% limit set forth in the Common Core memorandum of understanding of these copyrighted standards?  What is the plan for revising these standards as time goes on and the myriad of fatal or near fatal flaws with them continue to be elucidated? If states have so much freedom, why was Indiana's NCLB waiver threatened and Oklahoma's removed after opting out?

JB: The opposition to the common core has been mostly fueled by President Obama and his administration attempting to take credit for and co-opt a state-led initiative.

KRE: The opposition to Common Core is coming from people and groups from all across the political spectrum and for a host of reasons, of which opposition to President Obama may be only one or not at all on the list.  Both the report Benchmarking for Success and the Race to the Top memorandum of understanding discussed "federal tiered incentives." The plan all along was to have these standards incentivized or required for federal funds. If you are so opposed to Barak Obama's education plans, then why did you appear so supportive of his education ideas at this event in Miami?


JB: To be clear, higher academic standards are necessary, and the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms. If state leaders don't like common core, they should embrace the challenge of raising their standards even higher. I'll be the first person in line to support them.

KRE: To be equally clear, federally mandated state standards have done nothing in this country to improve achievement and several think tanks including the Brookings Institute say that national standards, particularly Common Core, will not improve achievement either.  The Common Core standards are academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative, and they will further denigrate our already troubled education system.

JB: Most importantly, the best, highest standards in the world won't matter if we don't accurately measure whether students are truly learning, and hold schools accountable for the results.

KRE: Testing has always been a part of education.  But using tests punitively at the state and federal levels and as a means to collect massive amounts of private data on children and families is unconstitutional and abusive and not the way to do accountability. The new tests that are computer adaptive will not give uniform results across a classroom, much less across the state or nation. They will be manipulated to prove whatever those in charge want pr oven or they will be used to manipulate attitudes and behavior.  Our children are not guinea pigs.


Posted in Standards. Tagged as Common Core Standards, Education Next, Jeb Bush, Karen Effrem.

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.

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