Full Coverage! Lee County School Board Takes Historic Vote to Opt Out of Common Core Testing!

August, 2014

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
In an historic, "shot heard round the world" vote, the Lee County School Board voted 3-2 before a standing room only crowd, the majority dressed in red to show opposition to the testing, to immediately suspend all state-mandated standardized testing. 

The vote was taken after about 35 different parents gave public comments about the academic and emotional harm as well as expense, lack of legality and constitutionality and many other problems of the incessant and out of control testing program.  Similar to our report of the state hounding a little boy dying of the complications of cerebral palsy about testing, a Lee county mother spoke of the country sending a proctor for her son to take a test when he was in the hospital on home bound education after receiving an external defibrillator for what will be an ultimately terminal heart condition.  Here is just that clip:

Another mother had her young child testify about the effect of missing questions on tests because of needing to leave for the bathroom due to a medical condition, and how she believed that after that test she couldn't read, even though she was reading fine before the test.  Kathleen Jasper of testified about how little these tests actually inform instruction in her experience as an administrator. Michael Dreikorn, who lost his valiant bid for state senate after being outspent 48:1 by outside interests and the RPOF also testified, while the newly re-elected Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto apparently could not be bothered to show up. Representative Heather Fitzenhagen made an appearance, urging "caution" while Pete Simmons, staff for Congressman Curt Clawson offered the support of his office to the citizens working to stand against the federal mandates.  I had the privilege of discussing the hypocrisy of public officials saying they had to "follow the law" on testing and Common Core, when both the federal and state constitutions, the implementation laws regarding district readiness, field testing, and other were all being violated (full report to follow).   Here is a video of the public comments.

The board discussion is below.  Chairman Tom Scott offered a resolution to immediately stop all state-mandated state testing.  It was seconded by Don Armstrong, who had publicly opted his own children out of the testing at a previous meeting and who discussed the enormous costs of the testing, with a conservative estimate being $11.25 million and as high as $20 million.  Board member Carol Morgan offered an amendment to delay and ask for Superintendent Nancy Graham to offer an opinion and plan at some future board meeting.  Morgan reiterated her support for these federally and state mandated standards and tests during the discussion. Jeanne Dozier, while supporting the opt-out at the last board meeting, wanted to amend the motion to wait until October. Graham joined the effort to try to delay as well.  Ultimately Scott's discussion of the Florida Constitution and Armstrong's discussion of the human and financial costs were enough to convince newly re-elected board member Mary Fischer, who asked many thoughtful questions, to join Scott and Armstrong to vote down the delays and pass Scott's original motion.


The Naples News Press reported the story, which was picked up by Diane Ravitch, as well as Sunshine State News and other Florida media outlets. The Sunshine State News report is incorrect, however, in that "meeting was full of people both in support of and opposed to opting out of testing." The crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of opting out. Only one person spoke in favor of keeping the insane testing regime in place.

Although, the superintendent was very clear to point out that the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards are still in place, this is absolutely historic. Scott, Armstrong, and Fischer deserve kudos and much support for their great vision, courage and their willingness to adhere to the US and Florida Constitutions despite the threats of removal of funding and loss of their positions. This will protect the students of Lee County from the invasive, psychological profiling and data collection from these tests, allow teachers to teach and protect them from data collection, and depending on how much is received in federal Title I funds from No Child Left Behind and if that money is withheld, may even save the district some money.  As stated by Pastor Rick Stevens of Cape Coral, one of the leaders of FSCCC partner Southwest Florida Citizens' Alliance, it is tragic that local officials and the public have to fear what their government will do to them when they exercise their constitutional rights.

Please be prepared to support these officials in Lee County as well as to support and encourage other boards to take a stand.  Many anti-Common Core school board candidates won or advanced to the November election in Tuesday's primary. (Full report coming). Stay tuned, it is going to be a wild ride.


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