House Committee Stops Amendment to Impose Common Core on Private Schools

March, 2014

Although we are very concerned about the actions or lack thereof of the Florida Legislature with regard to Common Core, we also believe it is important to commend good actions.  The House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee heard HB 7099, the house version of the bill that Senator Gaetz wants to use to impose the Common Core aligned state tests that will now be developed by the psychological testing firm American Institutes for Research on private schools for students receiving vouchers. This hearing took place on March 18th. If those tests were required of private voucher students, the end result would be that the Common Core standards would be imposed on private schools as well, because the schools would have to teach to the test and they are not going to teach voucher students one way and the rest of the students another.

True to the information that we have received, the House and its leadership does not share that view with Senator Gaetz.  The subcommittee defeated an amendment brought by Rep. Shervin Jones (D - West Park) that would have required those voucher students to take only the state (Common Core) tests. Several parents and private school administrators gave great speeches about why this would be problematic to these children who are desperately looking for a choice. The amendment was voted down by a voice vote, apparently and sadly on party line.  (See the video here starting at 14:00)

Please thank Chairman Michael Bileca (R - Miami)  for his excellent speech (35:25), and the subcommittees's willingness to protect the private schools as an escape mechanism for Common Core, especially for poor children, who according to math expert Zev Wurman, will be the most harmed by Common Core. While he did not specifically reference Common Core, Chairman Bileca aptly pointed out that requiring the public school tests and therefore the standards would result in the entire private school being required to be taught by the same curriculum and standards (Common Core in 2014 if not stopped) as the public schools for the sake of a few voucher students when the private school students are already tested according to nationally norm referenced tests that provide plenty of accountability.   Please also thank the bill author Rep. Manny Diaz (R - Hialeah)

In addition, please thank Speaker Will Weatherford for so far not agreeing with Senator Gaetz and encourage him to hold firm on this point. Also remind him of all of the children in public schools who will not be able to get a voucher that need protection from Common Core, now deceptively labeled the "Florida Standards" even though they are still 99.2% Common Core.  Please politely urge him to allow hearings on HB 25 to pause Common Core.

Thank you for all you do to protect the hearts and minds of our children!

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