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
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
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
We thank The Pulse 2016 for publishing Dr. Effrem's latest article on the role of education in the presidential election. This article has to do with businessman Donald Trump's answer to a a question about the roles of the federal government. Here is an excerpt:
However, Trump added to his long string of contradictions and dizzyingly rapid position changes during last Tuesday's presidential town hall on CNN. A combat veteran asked, "In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?" The tycoon responded that after security, the top functions of the federal government were education and health care. He then added housing. Here is the video of the exchange:
As is his pattern when questioned, Trump tried to walk his statement on education back a moment later, which turned into this steaming pile of incoherence:
ANDERSON COOPER: Aren't you against the federal government's involvement in education? Don't you want it to devolve to states?
DONALD TRUMP: I want it to go to state, yes. Absolutely. I want right now...
But then when Cooper followed up again:
COOPER: So that's not part of what the federal government's --
TRUMP: The federal government, but the concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country, and we have to get rid of Common Core, and it should be brought to the state level.
Despite this, as with his idea to expand libel laws to go after journalists that say negative things about him, Mr. Trump again displayed his frightening lack of constitutional understanding. Obviously, government control of education, health care and housing are exactly the big government establishment solutions parents fighting Common Core and Fed Ed, conservatives, and Republicans all oppose. That philosophy is much closer to the positions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on all three...
...For parents who have been Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
When criticized by Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican Presidential Debate on January 14th for supporting Common Core, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, "And on Common Core, Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey."
The evidence on the New Jersey Department of Education website and in the state media, however, tells a completely different story. Although Christie should be commended for signing two bills that pare back testing for grades K-2 and does not penalize districts for having high numbers of students that opt out, the Garden State is still a member of PARCC, the national Common Core testing consortium:
The review panel reviewing the standards wants to keep the PARCC and actually make it a graduation requirement, which would negate the bill described above, that does not penalize districts for opting out. It would greatly harm the possibility for parents to actually use their inherent, God-given right to direct the education of their children, including by opting them out of state tests. The axiom that what is tested will be taught holds true. If New Jersey is testing Common Core, they will be teaching Common Core.
Regarding the standards themselves, the department seems poised to keep 84-85% of Common Core. This is the magic number that is required in the Race to the Top contracts each state signed that clearly required Common Core. The relevant text from Florida's contract says:
"The goal is to have a common core of state standards that states can voluntarily adopt. States may choose to include additional standards beyond the common core as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state's standards in English language arts and mathematics." (Race to the Top Contract, p. 92, emphasis added)
So, as in Florida, the review panel is recommending that New Jersey still keep the bulk of the Common Read more
Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Rand Paul (KY) earned the best grades of A- while not surprisingly, former Governor Jeb Bush and current Ohio Governor John Kasich received failing grades for their positions and actions on Common Core. The graded review of 16 Republican candidates was done by the American Principles in Action group. The full report card is available HERE.
The report was based on how well candidates by their statements and actions have answered three questions: 1.) Have they spoken out and acted against Common Core?
Statements opposing Common Core must acknowledge that the standards are of low-quality, fail to meet the expectations of high-performing countries, and contain language that controls the curriculum and instructional methods used in the classroom. Recognition of these deficiencies is central in determining whether a candidate's actions have been a sincere effort to replace the Common Core with high standards or to simply rebrand it under another name.
2.) Do they understand and have they made a specific commitment to protect state and local control of education from further federal intrusion?
In particular, we are looking for candidates who understand how the federal government intrudes onto state decision-making and who advocate for structural changes to prevent such intrusions. Moreover, the candidate must understand that the intended division of power between the federal government and the state is meant to ensure that people can shape state and local policies. He must understand how the breakdown of that division destroyed the safeguards that could have, and likely would have, prevented Common Core.
3.) What efforts has the candidate made to protect student and family privacy interests against the rising demands of industry and central planners for more personal student data?
Such interests include the right of parents to control what type of information is collected (e.g., Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The wind may be leaving the sails of Jeb Bush's ship Air of Inevitability. His big lead is eroding in poll after poll as parent and taxpayer outrage about his involvement in and undying support of Common Core and the accompanying invasive, punitive, and invalid tests. As other candidates truly enter the race, instead of pretending to be "strongly considering" it, there is more anger about his perceived skirting of campaign finance laws, the appearance of his continued iron fisted control of Florida Legislature and GOP, his testing policies that have metastasized to other states and to federal law, and continued scrutiny of his past financial dealings.
Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times said this about Bush and Common Core in his recent article about how Jeb's claim to still be considering a presidential run so as to be able to skirt campaign finance laws and gather more money:
At some point this year, however, Bush may find his non-campaign campaign makes primary voters start to doubt his honesty as much as they do his positions on Common Core and immigration reform.
That was a follow-up to Smith's note about Bush's Common Core position in relation to Florida Senator Marco Rubio's now officially announced run:
He [Rubio] must have sufficient money to communicate. This may be the first election in which billionaires pick a presidential nominee and that's good news for Rubio. Bush is likely to raise far more money than any other Republican candidate, but he faces so much hostility and skepticism in the base due to his last name and his support for Common Core education standards that he may need all that money.
During that speech, Rubio also took a shot at Bush's air of inevitability
RUBIO: I've heard -- I've heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn.
AUDIENCE: No. It's your turn.
RUBIO: But I cannot. Because I believe our very Read more
The last several weeks have been encouraging for parents and taxpayers that want to see a presidential candidate stand for the Tenth Amendment regarding education and against the federal over reach of Common Core and the associated tests and data collection system. Three Republican US senators have declared their candidacy for the highest office in the land: Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Senator Ted Cruz declared at Liberty University in Virginia and said in his speech, "Instead of a federal government that seeks to dictate school curriculum through Common Core...imagine repealing every word of Common Core.
Senator Rand Paul has always been against Common Core and has been innovative enough to introduce federal budget legislation to de-fund the US Department of Education (2011 - S162) He did not mention Common Core or education during his speech, but many statements at various events including in Florida as well as his co-sponsorship of various bills and amendments have shown that he is strongly against the standards.
Senator Marco Rubio just declared at the Freedom Tower in Miami. He also has said on numerous occasions that he is against the standards. His speech did not specifically mention Common Core, but did talk about school choice and affordable higher education.
And opposite the three Republicans, Hillary just days after announcing her candidacy, defended Common Core in Iowa, saying:
"Wow, that is a powerful, touching comment that I absolutely embrace. You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument going on around Common Core it's very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort, it was actually non-partisan, it wasn't politicized, it was trying to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, there Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Despite lots of money and trying to project the aura of inevitability, Jeb Bush is having a lot of problems in polls and surveys even here in his home state of Florida. A poll by Gravis Marketing that came out this past week showed that he is in a dead heat with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:
Head-to-head, former Florida governor John E. "Jeb" Bush barely beats his acolyte Sen. Marco A. Rubio in the Feb. 24-25 Howie Carr/Gravis poll of 513 registered Republican voters, but in an open field Bush is in a virtual tie with Wisconsin Gov. Scott K. Walker with Rubio finishing third...
"Pitted against each other, Bush is at 40 percent and Rubio is at 36 percent," said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Insights, the Florida-based firm that conducted the poll. The poll carries a margin of error of 5 percent. The total may not round to 100% because of rounding.
But, when the field is opened up to other candidates, the dynamic changes, he said. "We are seeing the early stages of two-man horse race between Bush and Walker."
In the open field, Bush still leads with 23 percent to Walker's 22 percent, he said.
"But, Bush v. Walker is, again, inside the margin of error," he said.
"Rubio is popular, but in his home state, he is taking a back seat to Bush v. Walker," he said. "Even among Hispanics, Bush takes 24 percent, Walker 23 and Rubio, a Cuban-American, comes in third with 11 percent--roughly, his same level of support across the state's Republicans in an open field."
By law, Rubio cannot run for both president and for reelection to the Senate, but, he does not have to make that decision until May 2016and by then, the primary season will be winding down anyway.
The other GOP hopefuls offered in the survey fared like this:
Michael Huckabee 10 percent
Dr. Benjamin Carson 8 percent
Gov. Christopher J. Christie (R.-N.J.) Read more
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