Media Coverage of the Florida Common Core Standards Hearings

October, 2013

Here is a sampling of the coverage of the Common Core standards hearings:

  • Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Time's important education blog Gradebook interviewed Dr. Effrem before the hearings:
Effrem said she plans to attend and have a "significant discussion" about her objections to Common Core. She expressed hope that decision makers will take opponents seriously.

"I think (Scott) realizes what deep political trouble he is in with his base, and is trying to do everything he can to appease them," she said. "But he also has to, unfortunately, deal with the corporate business community and the political influence of people like Jeb Bush who want these standards. So he is walking a very fine line."
"FSCCC is made up of many groups who believe that the hearings are just a way to placate the citizenry and are not intended to really influence the push for the Common Core implementation," read the press release. "The idea that the state will subject children to data mining, iris scanning, cataloging, psychological parameters, and much more without the consent from their parents robs mothers and fathers of their parental authority."
  • WFLA Channel 8 covered our press conference with Coalition partners including Tampa 912 and the Tampa Tea Party that also quoted Dr. Stotsky.
  • Allison Neilsen of Sunshine State News did an excellent in-depth interview with Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Ze'ev Wurman and Dr. Effrem on the day of the Tampa hearing:
Both Wurman and Stotsky agreed that Common Core standards are a much lower level of learning than other standards, and that could spell trouble.

Wurman warned that the biggest loser of Common Core won't be the brightest children, but the disadvantaged.

"By lowering the standards, you're not doing the disadvantaged any favors," he said. "There will always be people who get to the top -- but those people are the ones with power, money. When the general curriculum is diluted, it's the disadvantaged that will not be able to step up because they don't know what to strive for ... they think 'Oh, the school is giving me a [passing grade], this is OK. I'm on track to be college ready.'"

He noted that Florida has already made so much progress with academic standards, but Common Core could set that progress back.

"Florida has actually made great strides with their current standards," he said. "Now you've basically kicked [the progress] out of the window and decided to change to something that is mediocre and takes control out of your hands."
  • Karen Yi of the Sun Sentinel quotes both Dr. Effrem, who spoke for 15 minutes at the Davie hearing, and Charlotte Greenbarg, president of Coalition partner Independent Voices for Better Education:
"'In kindergarten children are supposed to participate in collaborative conversations; we're basically trying to turn 5- and 6-year-olds into little board members when they're still learning about tying their shoes,' said Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

She said the standards de-emphasized literature in favor of informational texts and placed standards in the wrong grade levels...

...Hollywood resident Charlotte Greenbarg said Common Core was a bipartisan problem.
'We need empirical evidence that it works and there is no empirical evidence that what you're proposing works,' she said."
  • Finally, while Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times points out that we brought in experts and worked to comment on the standards, she portrays those who brought out larger concerns about government intrusion as extremists.  Apparently she doesn't understand the history of the people in that area, with so many coming from Communist Cuba, who clearly have experienced the dangers of increased government involvement in education:
"Some grass roots parent groups, including Florida Parents Against Common Core and the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, made it a point to invite education experts to the public hearings and discuss the standards themselves. At the Tampa meeting, University of Arkansas Education Professor Sandra Stotsky argued the new benchmarks would be no more rigorous than the ones currently being used."

Other critics booed and shouted and referred to the standards as "Obama Ed," "Communist Core" and Marxism.

Opponents at the Tampa and Tallahassee meetings were more subdued but shared strong sentiments with Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

"These standards are just another way for government to control the minds of people," parent Carlos Ramirez said at the Tallahassee meeting.

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