2017 Legislative Issues

2017 Legislature


FSCCC has joined with five other groups to form Common Ground to work on the biggest issues in Florida education - The Tea Party Network, Fund Education Now, Florida Parents RISE, Opt Out Leon County, and Accountabaloney. Here are summaries of some of the bills we have been working on and our recommendations for them:

TESTING SB 926/HB 773 - The allegedly "fewer, better tests" bill doesn't eliminate any tests and actually means "fewer will pass" for academcially dubious reasons, plus it expands CBE. Common Ground and FSCCC strongly oppose this bill as originally written!

Fact Sheet
Press Release
Bill Summary
FSCCC Analysis
UPDATE! Video Interview of Dr. Effrem by Randy Osborne - status of bill after Senate Education Committee. The bad proficiency language was removed but with a duplicative study of achievement levels. Some good amendments like actually removing 4 EOCs and VAM, plus a paper and pencil option, and a study to substitute the SAT/ACT, PERT, AP, etc. for high school tests have all been added to SB 926 Please thank Senators Montford, Simmons, Lee, and Mayfield for their work on this!

SB 964/HB 1249 - This is an excellent bill that has strong legislative and organizational bipartisan support, including from Common Ground and FSCCC. UPDATE! While it is unfortunate that this bill was not allowed to move forward, some good elecments of it, like actually removing 4 EOCs and VAM, plus a paper and pencil option, and a study to substitute the SAT/ACT, PERT, AP, etc. for high school tests have all been added to SB 926 above. Please thank Senators Montford, Simmons, Lee, and Mayfield for their work on this!
Press Release

Bill Summary

FSCCC Analysis
PRE-K
SB 468/HB 757 - This well-intended effort to improve reading outcomes will only produce a "Baby Common Core" developmentally inappropriate Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as CBE, grade-level achievement, pre-K, Testing expansion, VAM.

16 Reasons Governor Scott Should Veto HB 7069

1) Charters still require the Common Core tests, which basically then require the academically inferior, psychologically manipulative standards and curriculum.
2) Charter boards are unelected, unaccountable to parents and the public and may not even be in the same state as the school(s) they oversee.
3) Charters do not work to improve failing schools. There is a higher percentage of failing charters than there are "F" public schools in Florida as admitted in this chart from Jeb Bush's foundation. The KIPP charter school in Jacksonville is a D school.
4) There is strong bipartisan opposition to this bill in Florida and national concern from all points on the political spectrum about school choice/charters/vouchers

5) Charters and vouchers are being pushed by Jeb Bush and Betsy DeVos and the corporate/big government education establishment of both parties that gave us Common Core.
6) The bill only gets rid of one test and only does paper/pencil for grades 3-6 when many legislators tried to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers to significantly reduce testing.
7) HB 7069 is terrible legislative process, with the final bill put together in secret at the very end of session only by Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron with much not debated or amended on the floors of both chambers and only an up or down vote at the end. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala basically urged the governor to veto it during floor debate.
8) The national private charter corporations do not even want to come to Florida to do the turnaround models required by Schools of Hope, because it is not profitable for them.

9) According to Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, David Simmons, who was one of 3 Republicans to vote against the bill, it i s poorly written and will be complicated, if not impossible to properly implement. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala basically urged Read more

Posted in School Choice. Tagged as charter schools, Common Core, Florida Senate, Governor Rick Scott, HB 7069, Isalmic charter schools, Schools of Hope, Speaker Richard Corcoran.

DeVos Confirmation Hearing Review


Karen R. Effrem,MD - Executive Director
Betsy DeVos at her January 17th confirmation hearing - Photo Credit to Caffeinated Thoughts

I strongly agree with Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts that Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Education was not terribly informative. Aside from a brief mention of Common Core by Senator Cassidy (R-LA) where she said she wouldn't mandate it from the secretarial level and her answer to a question from Senator Alexander (R-TN, chairman of the HELP Committee holding the hearing) that she wouldn't implement school choice from the federal level, none of the major concerns in our national parent coalition letter about Common Core, privacy, and school choice were asked or answered.

Here is a brief discussion of several issues that did come up and those that should be closely monitored during her control of the U.S. Department of Education:
Common Core Mrs. DeVos answered Senator Cassidy's brief yes or no question, that she would not continue Common Core from the federal level. it is interesting that she said in her prepared opening statement:

And every teacher in America dreams of breaking free from standardization, so that they can deploy their unique creativity and innovate with their students.

If she wants teachers to "break free from standardization" how is it that she has supported national standards and standardized tests that require "standardized" teaching for so long?
However, as stated in numerous writings by many anti-Common Core experts and activists, the foundation of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates the Common Core by imposing secretarial veto of state plans and requiring states' compliance with eleven different federal laws all mandating statewide standards and tests that are Common Core even if not labeled such. How she implements ESSA will be critical.

Federal School Choice While it was somewhat reassuring Read more

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as Betsy DeVos, Common Core, confirmation hearing, data privacy, preschool, school choice, social emotional learning.

Education Freedom Groups Understand Dangers of Common Core & School Choice

School choice is becoming a very hot topic in education circles with the likely ascendancy of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education in the new Trump administration. Because so many are pursuing the noble goal of trying to help poor children escape from failing public schools, they do not or will not see the dangers of these programs to private and even home school autonomy.
Education Liberty Watch has been trying to warn of these dangers for several years and is honored to be working beside tremendous organizations like Eagle Forum and the Cato Institute to raise this alarm.

Eagle Forum just published an article by FSCCC executive director, Dr. Karen Effrem, discussing this work. Here is an excerpt:
In 2012, we published the School Choice Freedom Grading Scale. States like New Hampshire and Georgia that had accountability directly to parents scored A+ grades while states like Indiana and Louisiana that imposed the state standardized tests on entire private schools received failing grades.

The ever brilliant education analyst and conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly instantly understood the dangers of both Common Core and these alleged school choice plans to private school autonomy. Shortly after having the honor of presenting our Grading Scale at her wonderful 2012 Eagle Council meeting, she wrote these insightful words in her weekly column, titled Like ObamaCare, Obama Core Is Another Power Grab:

The Obama Core advocates are even planning to impose their standards on private schools. As the school choice movement grows, the attempt will be made to force any private or charter school that accepts public funds to adopt Common Core standards and have their students take the national tests. (Emphasis added).

President-elect Donald Trump's appointee to become the next Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is undergoing her confirmation hearings starting on January 17 Read more

Posted in School to Work. Tagged as Betsy DeVos, Cato, Common Core, Dr. Karen Effrem, Eagle Forum, Matthew Bedrick, Phyllis Schlafly, school choice.

Federalist Publishes Robbins-Effrem Rebuttal to SEL Proponent's Attack in DeVos-funded Website

In the recent analysis of the DeVos nomination, it was mentioned that T74, a DeVos Family Foundation funded website published a critique of Jane Robbins's and Dr. Effrem's Federalist article warning of the dangers of social emotional learning (SEL) and that the author's employer had connections to many pro-Common Core and SEL groups:

The T74, a pro-Common Core education blog funded by the DeVos Family Foundation carried a post attacking the Federalist article written by Jane Robbins and myself as the "journalistic equivalent of yelling 'fire' in a theater" without substantively answering our concerns. The author works at Bellwether Education Partners, whose partners include (surprise, surprise) DeVos' PR [Philanthropy Roundtable], Bush's FEE [Now called ExelinEd], and the Gates Foundation, all major supporters of Common Core and of SEL.

Here is an extensive excerpt of the rebuttal to that misguided critique published in the Federalist today:

In response to our recent article in The Federalist exposing the dangers of so-called social emotional learning (SEL), Allison Crean Davis argues that parents have nothing to fear from governmental monitoring and manipulation of their children's psychological states. Writing for a new organization called The 74 (funded by the DeVos Family Foundation), she urges that Americans wait for the "iterative march of science" (no, we don't know what that means either) to help us figure out the best way to implement and measure SEL in schools.

At the outset Davis likens SEL to Common Core: a "promising, well-intended initiative" that should be given a chance to work. Now there's a comparison that will ease parents' minds.

It's also interesting that she wants education to be more like medicine, yet bemoans the fact that benighted parents didn't wait for the "research" to come out on Common Core before opposing it. If the Common Core scheme had followed the pattern of Read more

Posted in Federal Education, Psychological Manipulation. Tagged as Allison Crean Davis, Betsy DeVos, Bill Gates, Dr. Karen Effrem, FEE, Jane Robbins, Jeb Bush, SEL, T74, The Federalist.

Betsy & Jeb's High Standards Snake Oil Sale

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Michigan billionaire; Republican mega-donor, and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education. The corporate, big government Republican establishment, such as Jeb Bush, his Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, as well as groups that have received her large contributions, are thrilled with her appointment. Key education freedom leaders like Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project who called her a "very Jeb-like pick"; Joy Pullman, managing editor of The Federalist; and grassroots parent anti-Common Core groups in Michigan, Oklahoma, we here in Florida, and around the nation are justifiably concerned.

Understanding her future boss' promise to get rid of Common Core, as well as how fatal it was to the presidential campaigns of her friend and fellow FEE board member, Jeb Bush, whom she supported, and others that Donald Trump beat, she put out a hastily constructed statement on Twitter and her website the day she was appointed, alleging her opposition to Common Core, stating that she is "not a supporter-period," because it had turned into a "federalized boondoggle":

Here are several important things to know about DeVos based on her rhetoric quoted above; her record as documented by the Stop Common Core in Michigan parents who have experienced her brand of education reform firsthand, and other sources.

1) DeVos used Jeb Bush's "high standards" euphemism for Common Core Her mention of "high standards" in her website statement and the report of having discussed "higher national standards" in the Trump Transition Team readout of her November 19th meeting with the president-elect, are identical to Jeb Bush's efforts to deflect criticism of his Common Core support before and during his failed presidential campaign right down to the "Period.":

Read more

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as American Federation for Children, Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, Great Lakes Education Project, Jeb Bush, Philanthropy Roundtable, Secretary of Education, Stop Common Core in Michigan.

Common Core and Fed Ed Significant in Several Florida Congressional Races

Education and Common Core have received little national attention since the end of the presidential primary, but these crucial issues are making a resurgence in some Florida congressional races. Here are two important examples.
In District 18, that includes Martin and Palm Beach Counties, Brian Mast, a highly decorated munitions specialist who lost both legs in combat, is running on the Republican ticket. He strongly opposes Common Core and federal interference in education, saying on his website:

Washington should not be mandating curriculum for states, which is why I oppose Common Core. Each state should be a laboratory for innovation so that states compete with each other for the best results.

Mast's opponent, Democrat Randy Perkins, has made millions in government contracts for disaster clean-up. He echoes Hillary Clinton's platform of expanding expensive, intrusive government early childhood programs despite the fact that dozens of studies have shown them to be ineffective and or harmful. Perkins, like Clinton, also wants the federal government to provide low-cost college, even though our nation is $19 trillion in debt. His website mentions nothing about Common Core, which Democrat officials have called the "third rail" of politics.
Meanwhile, in District 9, near Orlando, veteran and businessman, Wayne Liebnitsky (left photo above) is also running on an anti-Common Core/EndFedEd platform, listing education first:

Our nation's educational system is crumbling to the will of common core. It's time to get back to basics, by returning power of educating today's youth back to the States, Counties and Cities that individually know what's best for their own children.

Liebnitsky's opponent, termed-out Democratic state Senator Darren Soto (right photo above) doesn't even mention education on his website while pushing all the topics typical for his party. that have nothing to do with education.

In Read more

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as Brian Mast, CD 18, CD 9, Darren Soto, ESSA, Federal role in education, Frances Rooney, Matt Gaetz, pre-K, Randy Perkins, Rep. Curt Clawson, Rep. Jeff Miller, Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Ted Yoho, SETRA, Wayne Liebniisky.

The Federalist: Schools Ditch Academics For Emotional Manipulation

We are grateful to the Federalist for posting the latest article on social emotional learning from Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project and Dr. Effrem:

It is great that Georgia has joined Tennessee in withdrawing from the CASEL SEL standards movement, but sadly, CASEL is pushing on with a new effort detailed in the article along with a detailed discussion of the dangers of SEL.
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This summer the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) announced it had chosen eight states to collaborate on creating K-12 "social emotional learning" (SEL) standards. All students, from kindergartners through high-school seniors, would be measured on five "non-cognitive" factors: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Under such a system teachers become essentially therapists, and students become essentially patients. Supposedly this will clear away the psychological deadwood that obstructs a student's path to academic achievement.

But less than two months later, two of the CASEL states (Tennessee and Georgia) have withdrawn from the initiative. Parents have begun to realize the dangers of SEL and to challenge their schools' lemming-like march toward psychological manipulation of children.

Federal Government Probes Students' Psyches

We've written about the push by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the rest of the progressive education establishment to transform education from academic content instruction to molding and assessing children's attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors. The infamous "outcome-based education" (OBE) in the 1990s began the trend, and Head Start and the Common Core national standards advance the same foundational principles.

The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ramps up the trend in several Read more

Posted in School to Work. Tagged as CASEL, data collection, Dr. Karen Effrem, Georgia, Head Start, Jane Robbins, Linda Darling Hammond, NAEP, SEL, SETRA, Tennessee.

Anti-Common Core Grassroots Score Victories Over Establishment

Congratulations and thanks to all the candidates, whether they won or lost, for their great efforts in the Florida primary. We are especially pleased and thankful for their strong efforts in the realm of education to stand for academic excellence, parental rights and local control and against federal overreach, mindless testing tyranny, data mining, and psychological profiling.
Education in general and specifically, the Common Core system was a very important issue in the just completed Florida primary. Regardless of their records, politicians clamored to sound pro-parent and to portray themselves as anti-Common Core. Our grassroots voter guides were an attempt to separate the rhetoric from the records. We thank you for reading and distributing them. We thank our partners and allies at The Tea Party Network, Liberty First, the Republican Liberty Caucus, and the Florida Citizens' Alliance for all of their tremendous grassroots work with ratings, endorsements, forums, and interaction on Common Core and other important issues. However, education was not the only issue on the ballot yesterday. There was much money and many competing interests on a whole range of issues involved, of which the pro-Common Core Tallahassee and corporate establishment was only one, albeit significant, part. Yet despite the massive funding arrayed against us and our partners, we believe that these rating and all of our work together made an important difference in these races.

Here is a brief recap of results for the races we evaluated:
Senate District 17 Winner Mayfield:
This race was a stellar example of how courage, integrity, authentic efforts against Common Core, and grassroots support can win elections against great odds. Rep. Debbie Mayfield has been the standard bearer in Florida against the invasive and ineffective Common Core system for the last three years, often standing alone against the special interest groups and the education Read more

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as 2016 FL Primary, Debbie Mayfield, Dennis Baxley, Doug Holder, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Greg Steube, HD 4, Joe Gruters, Kathleen Passidomo, Laurie Bartlett, Marlene O'Toole, Matt Hudson, Mel Ponder, Ray Pilon, Rick Scott, Ritch Workman, SD 12 David Gee, SD 17, SD 23, SD 28, SD 73, Steve Vernon.

Social Emotional Standards = "Psycho Common Core"

Jane Robbins,attorney and senior fellow for the American Principles Project, has written another excellent column about the dangers of the next big edu fad - social emotional learning standards. Eight states are working with CASEL to adopt them. These are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

We have long written about the dangerous loss of freedom of conscience and privacy inherent in social emotional research and data gathering via the allegedly academic Common Core aligned tests that are being amplified in the Every Student Succeeds Act's accountability paradigm. Mrs. Robbins was kind enough to cite Dr. Effrem's research paper on this topic. Here is an excerpt:

Assessment and development of students' social and emotional skills is risky business. What kind of training will teachers or other school personnel have for this responsibility? Psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson points out the extremely sensitive nature of evaluating children's social-emotional makeup and warns about having inadequately trained personnel implementing plans designed to alter students' psyches.

When non-psychologists dabble in these murky waters, the result is tremendously subjective analyses of what a child is thinking or feeling as opposed to what the government thinks he should be thinking or feeling. Dr. Karen Effrem, who has researched and written extensively about the issue of SEL, warns about the subjectivity of this kind of analysis, particularly with young children.
Even prominent SEL proponents caution that assessing students on SEL standards, especially with the common mechanism of student surveys, can be a shot in the dark. Researchers Angela Duckworth and David Yeager have said that "perfectly unbiased, unfakeable, and error-free measures are an ideal, not a reality." [Read the whole column titled: The Latest Big Education Fad, Social-Emotional Learning, Is As Bad As It Read more

Posted in Psychological Manipulation. Tagged as CASEL, Dr. Gary Thompson, Dr. Karen Effrem, ESSA, Jane Robbins, NCLB, Social Emotional Standards.

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