Governor Scott Signs Three "Lipstick on a Pig" Bills

May, 2014

The Common Core battle was intense during the 2014 legislative session.  Parents, teachers, and grassroots organizations all over the state banded together to try to make our voices heard.  Sadly, despite the heroic efforts of legislators like Rep. Debbie Mayfield and Senator Greg Evers to just try to pause the Common Core juggernaut, the entrenched interests of the corporate and political elite like Jeb Bush, The Florida Council of 100, The Chamber of Commerce, and Pearson and their willing puppets in Governor Scott, Speaker Weatherford, and Senator Gaetz, rejected, with one slight exception, the voice of the people.  They absolutely refused to even give HB 25 by Mayfield and SB 1316 by Evers a single hearing. Instead, they removed references to Common Core in statute, supported the State Board changing the name to the "Florida Standards" even though they are still 99.1% Common Core, and put forth several bills that were used to try to appease the angry public without changing anything of substance. Here is a recap:

Common Core in Private Schools, AKA the Voucher Bill (SB 850) There was one bright spot this session.  Thanks to your hard work and after many ups and downs, Senator Gaetz's full blown plan to impose Common Core in the private schools by requiring the state Common Core tests for voucher students was thwarted.  In the last two days of session there were amendments that would have required the tests for private schools, as well as amendments that would have allowed public school students to choose the test they take the way that private school students do.  In the end, all the amendments were withdrawn, except for the Galvano language added that modestly expanded the voucher plan, mentioned private school autonomy over standards and curriculum, and pays $1 million to the Learning Services Institute (LSI) at FSU to compare the public and private school tests.  As reported in our analysis, this is still a danger to private school autonomy.  The protection language does not cover tests and is not very specific.  LSI that will do the test comparison is not a neutral arbiter as they also develop Common Core curriculum for teachers.  The full frontal assault on private schools was stopped for now, but they are still progressing in their plan to have every school come under the jack boots of the Common Core system of standards, tests, and data collection. The autonomy of private schools must be zealously guarded, as it is one of the few escape hatches for Common Core.

The Big Brother is STILL Watching Your Children Pretend Data Protection Bill (HB 195/SB 188) Many thanks and kudos go to Senator Hukill and Rep. Raburn for attempting to put forth a bill prohibiting the collection of political and biometric data.  Unfortunately, the powers that be that are beholden to the corporate overlords in Big Data made sure that the language was purely symbolic.  By deferring to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, the following language in the bill still allows the access to individual data without consent by the federal government and corporations (See lines 26-32 of the enrolled bill):

The rights of students and their parents with respect to education records created, maintained, or used by public educational institutions and agencies shall be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the implementing regulations issued pursuant thereto, and this section.

As we have been pointing out for a year since the battle on SB 878 and in our national response to the Chief State Schools Officers letter on the data issues, the US Department of Education severely weakened the privacy protections of FERPA via regulations in a stealth end around of Congress, so this bill's reliance on that federal law render the very good language in this state measure completely moot.  In addition, despite multiple pleas, there is absolutely no protection against the psychological profiling that everyone from the US Department of Education, to testing corporations like AIR and Pearson, to the corporations (Microsoft, Target) and foundations (Gates and Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education) that are partners and funders of the Data Quality Campaign are salivating to receive.

Rep. Janet Adkins' Memorial to George Orwell (HB 7031) As analogized by James Call, this bill removed all references to Common Core from statute in an effort to deceive the people into believing that Florida has its own standards. The effort is similar to what Big Brother did to Winston Smith in the dystopian novel 1984. No one in Florida is fooled.  AP reporter Gary Fineout accurately said, "Fueled by parents angry over contentious new national education standards called Common Core, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature is pushing through a series of sweeping changes. But shhh - don't tell anyone this - Common Core isn't really going away in Florida, just the name." 

The CAIR/Pearson Pseudo-Local Control Bill (SB 864) Senator Allen Hays' great efforts to provide a modicum of local control were completely gutted by leadership that demanded that the textbooks still align to the state (Common Core) standards.  CAIR also inserted itself into the fight, upset that parents were unwilling to accept Islamic biased textbooks like Pearson's World History text.  The Libyan Investment Authority is one of the five largest shareholders in Pearson.  In addition, publishing giants like Pearson (heavy contributors to Jeb Bush's foundations) didn't want to have to hawk their Common Core wares to all 67 school districts.  In the end, districts have the option to choose their curriculum, but it will be mainly the state that decides, and parents have the option to complain about bad texts.  This bill was used by the legislative leadership to say that Common Core still allows local flexibility, but all along did nothing substantive to answer or solve the many problems of usurpation of local control by Common Core standards and tests. Syndicated columnist George Will takes apart this logic during a panel discussion on the Fox News Channel program with Brett Baier.

The battle against Common Core is now moving to the electoral arena.  The anti-Common Core movement is starting to rack up some major wins in Florida and across the nation.  We have already chronicled the Curt Clawson's impressive victory in the FL 19 four candidate special election primary, especially over the establishment, Jeb Bush preferred candidate.  Governor Rick Scott continues to struggle in the polls largely because of his failure to do anything about this critical issue. In Indiana, two pro-Common Core state legislators lost their primaries over this issue.   Both leading candidates in the May 13th Nebraska U.S. Senate Republican primary have come out strongly against Common Core.  Even North Carolina's Republican primary victor supported by the Jeb Bush machine still had to pay at least lip service opposition to Common Core.

  • Continue to inform yourself and others about Common Core, including with our policy analysis and sharing the Building the Machine and Operation Education videos.
  • Refuse any type of political support to any politician for any office that has supported Common Core or refused to help its repeal or resistance.
  • Support those candidates that truly understand academic excellence, parental rights, data privacy, state sovereignty, and local control.
  • Please financially support our efforts.
  • Thank you for your prayers and your steadfast and generous support as we continue to fight this critical battle to save the hearts and minds of our precious children and the freedoms that have been purchased at so dear a price.  It is our duty to pass on to our children the heritage of EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION!

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