Florida Common Core Political Backlash Already Starting - Two Senate Challengers

May, 2014

As we just reported, Common Core is having a significant effect in numerous polls and primaries in Florida and around the country.  There are now two new Florida legislative primary challenges where Common Core is a major issue:

CD 19 Rematch for Senate District 30- Dreikorn vs. Benacquisto: In a reprise of the 19th congressional district special election primary, aerospace engineer Dr. Michael Dreikorn is taking on incumbent Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto for the District 31 senate seat.  Both Dreikorn, a political newcomer, and Benacquisto, considered anointed by the establishment and having the support of Jeb Bush in 2012 used in the 2014 ads by a PAC supporting her, lost to outsider businessman Curt Clawson in the April 22nd primary.  The campaign was very heated and marked by viciously negative campaigning by PACs associated with Benacquisto and Dr. Paige Kreegel.  The PAC supporting Benacquisto is associated with the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF).  It will be interesting to see if and how the RPOF involves itself to try to protect her again.  Dreikorn mostly stayed away from the negative campaigning except for involving himself in a press conference trying to tie Clawson to a pedophile via  real estate transactions that backfired. Common Core and the federal role in education was a significant issue in the campaign.  Benaquisto's sincerity on eliminating Common Core was questioned given that reports from constituents stated that she supported Common Core before the campaign began and then although she co-sponsored the anti-Common Core bill, she did not not use her position as Majority Leader to procure a hearing.  In addition, her views on the role of the federal government is to get block grants instead of eliminate the the US DOE as Dreikorn and her other opponents sought to do. This race will be a major battle.

Senate District 16 - Monique Miller vs. Senator Thad Altman - Laying aside an extensive and successful career in the computer industry where she worked in Europe "against a backdrop of socialism," political outsider Monique Miller is challenging incumbent since 2008, Senator Thad Altman, who is chairman of the Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee. Although not the primary issue, Common Core is one of the 6 major issues found in the platform section of her website. Here is her statement on education and the Common Core standards:

Education - Common Core

I do not oppose implementing education metrics and standards. However, I do oppose taking control of education away from local school boards. Common Core may have good intentions, but there is no evidence that it will improve student outcomes. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. If it is a great system, people will want it without being forced into it.

I also oppose any legislation that limits parents' education choices for their children. There are many success stories in education because of competition from charter schools and online educational programs. In most cases, Common Core requires students in all schools, public and private, to meet the new standards, regardless of the school's performance today. 
In schools where students are successful with their current curriculum, what possible benefit could there be to imposing this new, completely unproven system on them instead? 

New Orleans, where I went to college, has been a great example of what can happen to education when government gets out of the way. Hurricane Katrina destroyed many neighborhoods, and schools. With little infrastructure left in place, residents started new private and charter schools. Those that were successful attracted students, who were often able to bring their tax dollars with them, in the form of vouchers. 

The free market works, when it is allowed to. Rather than learning a lesson from Louisiana, Florida is reducing the choices parents have for their children. There is no more fundamental right than being free to raise our children as we wish.

Senator Altman has no statement on education at all, much less anything about Common Core on his campaign website.
We will report on the education/Common Core aspects of both of these races as more information becomes available.





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