August, 2013


I, along with many organizations and thousands of individuals across the state represented by the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, as well as many others appreciate that Governor Scott has decided to convene this education summit to deal with the four critical issues of the Common Core standards, state assessments, teacher evaluations, and the school grading system.
Here are our views of the problems with the Common Core system and our proposal for solutions (much more detail along with extensive footnotes is available in the Policy Analysis written by Dr. Karen Effrem and myself available at
  1. The many problems with the Common Core standards include:  
  • Development by unaccountable private groups of copyrighted standards that states were required to adopt verbatim
  • Incentivizing adoption of the standards with federal money and waivers is a violation of the Constitution and three federal laws
  • Adoption by appointed instead of elected officials
  • Florida did not even take advantage of the opportunity to create 15% of their own standards 
  • Lack of field testing
  • Florida's current standards are rated higher in math and just a bit lower in English than Common Core, so it is hard to see how these national standards will solve Florida's education ills.  
  • Many other states' standards were more rigorous than Common Core. 
  • Very low quality (seventh grade level for the high school math and English standards)
  • Developed by five major architects, none of whom have any K-12 classroom experience
  • A serious curtailment of literary study that will harm vocabulary development and critical thinking
  • Admission by a math author that college readiness is geared to a non-selective community college
  • Delay of math skills that will harm acceptance to a selective four year university
  • Standards drive curriculum that will be taught in order to pass the high stakes tests (see below), so protests that radical curriculum examples in the official list of text examples for the Common Core English Standards, the federally funded model curriculum, or others are just local aberrations ring hollow.
  • According to federal documents, there are plans to teach, test, and collect data on psychological attitudes values and beliefs.
  • There is no evidence of international benchmarking, with repeated denial of data requests causing five highly respected academicians to refuse to sign off on the final version of the standards.
  • One of the only academic mathematicians on the validation committee believes that students using the Common Core math standards will be two years behind their international peers at the end of eighth grade and farther behind by the end of high school.
2. The federally funded and supervised assessments also have many issues:
  • Federal involvement in testing is a violation of federal law
  • The Florida Department of Education has put out false information stating that there is no federal involvement in testing.  [See HERE for more information.]
  • The test results will have many high stakes consequences that include student grade advancement and graduation, teacher pay and tenure and school district grades and funding
  • The new assessments will greatly expand time needed for testing, which will decrease instructional time in favor of test preparation and narrow the curriculum to emphasize subjects that can be tested
  • Teachers are being forced or at least strongly encouraged to use highly scripted or computerized lessons in order to maximize test results, which reduces teacher flexibility and creativity
  • Federal documents show that students will be psychologically tested by the assessments and that individual student data from the assessments will be collected and given to the federal government. 
  • Because the computerized assessments will determine the next question based on a student's answer to the previous question, the claim that the national tests will uniformly measure student learning across the country are not valid.
  • Claims that districts and teachers will be able to choose and locally implement curriculum of their choice are not logical. Because the stakes for the tests are so high, they will be forced or highly motivated to choose federal model curricula or use the text examples listed in the Common Core English standards. 
  • Reducing everything a student learns and a teacher teaches to a test result impoverishes education
  • Teachers and students have not had enough time to assimilate the new standards and aligned curricula before the tests are proposed to become high stakes in 2015. 
  • The costs for implementing the tests are both unaffordable and unsustainable and far outpace what Florida has received in federal grants requiring local tax increases and new federal charges to provide the funds for technology. 
  • Florida laws passed in the 2013 session requiring the test implementation schedule to be based on "funding, sufficient field and baseline data, access to assessments, instructional alignment, and school district readiness to administer the common core assessments online" as well as adequate and independently verified technological load testing for all districts are being violated.
3. Because teacher evaluations are based on these flawed standards and tests, these cannot be improved until the many problems cited with them above are remedied.

4. The school grading system is problematic because it is also based on the standards and tests.  This A-F school grading system had already lost significant credibility. The SBOE, including under the leadership of Tony Bennett, had made it so complicated and arbitrary that parents, teachers, districts and the public were already questioning its validity. Bennett recommended continuing the manipulative practice of preventing school grades from dropping more than one letter grade for a second year in a row.  This was in part to cushion the blow from the disastrous implementation of Common Core in the early elementary grades and prevent the department from looking worse than it already did. The board complied after a contentious 4-3 vote on July 16, 2013. Then on July 30, 2013, an AP article reveled evidence that Bennett had already manipulated school grade data in Indiana, in this case to help a political donor.  This evidence and these allegations ultimately resulted in his resignation.   If Tony Bennett, as a member of the highly touted Chiefs for Change and one of the greatest Common Core experts and proponents in the entire nation cannot even begin to implement that system without doctoring test and school data in two different states, how can Common Core remain a credible and viable alternative for Florida or any other state? 

Given this situation and these many problems, we recommend the following:
  1. Florida should withdraw completely from using the Common Core standards.  If they are as "voluntary" as proponents claim, there should be no problem in doing so.
  2. Ideally, parents and duly elected school boards should control standards, curriculum and assessments.  The federal government's involvement since 1965 and the imposition of state standards and tests via Goals 2000 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) has cost US taxpayers over two trillion dollars while achievement scores have stagnated or declined, the achievement gap is unchanged, state and local sovereignty has eroded, and parents' rights and data privacy are routinely violated.
  3. At the very least, the current Florida standards should be continued as the math standards are already rated higher than Common Core and the English standards are roughly equivalent.  The math standards could be improved by aligning them more closely with the standards of the four best state standards California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.  The English standards could be improved by aligning more closely with the best states such as California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky has made excellent English standards prepared for consideration in Massachusetts available at no charge.
  4. Using a different testing system as suggested by Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz will not improve the situation if the same flawed standards are implemented in Florida, nor will it cure the significant data privacy problems.
  5. The concept of high stakes testing should be reconsidered.  Accountability should be to parents and locally elected school boards, not to the state, the federal government, or corporations.  A child's educational experience and a teacher's performance should not be reduced to one number. 
  6. The inculcation, monitoring, and data collection of psychosocial attitudes, values and beliefs must cease immediately.  That has no place in a free republic.  It is the job of families and religious institutions, not government via the schools to do that work.
  7. Data privacy protections need to be significantly strengthened.  Instead of bills like SB 878 that give our children's individual data to the federal government without consent, we need real protections such as the ones our group furnished during the last session.
  8. There needs to be legislative review of all federal education grants to check for constitutionality, cost and unfunded mandates, state sovereignty, data privacy, and parental rights.
  9. The commissioner of education and the state board of education should be elected and not appointed.


Randy Osborne
Heartland Research
Florida Eagle Forum


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