Anti-Common Core Candidate McDonald Joins Special Election Primary to Replace Senator Thrasher in SD 6 December, 2014

A special election primary will be held January 27th of 2015 to replace very pro-Common Core Senator John Thrasher who resigned to become Florida State University president.  There are three candidates in that Republican primary race:

Rep. Travis Hutson - He is resigning his recently re-elected seat to run for this senate seat.  He has served as a member of the Education Committee and must be given some credit for co-sponsoring the anti-Common Core pause bill, HB 25, by Rep. Debbie Mayfield.  His depth of concern about the dangers of Common Core seems not to be extending to this campaign, however, as he mentions absolutely nothing about it in his campaign biography and actually brags about being involved with SB 1076, the Career and Professional Education Act, that implemented Common Core and its testing regimen in 2013.

Dennis McDonald - Mr. McDonald is a businessman long active in local politics who believes in constitutional sovereignty and strongly opposes Common Core:
"The Common Core Experiment passed by SB2120 must be repealed before it further damages our students and places them on a track that is not embraced by the Global economy they so often times state that we must compete in. It is time to correct this egregious error"
His wife Janet recently won a position on the Flagler County School Board after running on a strong anti-Common Core platform.

Rep. Ronald "Doc" Renuart - He is a physician and veteran who must be honored for three tours of duty in the Middle East.  Elected to the House in 2008, he also served on the Education Committee, but also mentions nothing about the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative standards or invasive testing and data mining systems, only discussing the establishment  line of "raising standards and accountability." Activists in the area said this about him during the November election:
"Rep. Doc Renuart seems to believe that changing the name from common core to the Next Generation Florida Sunshine State Standards actually got Florida out of common core. He makes these claims despite the fact that he sits on the committee that approved the changes to the common core standards, so he should know how trivial those changes actually were."

We will make any new information about the candidates available as it is received.  Residents in District 6, please study the candidates and support the one who best answers the 4 Questions About Common Core.

Commissioner of Education Announces Standards & Testing Review Committee December, 2014

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced the formation of the Keep Florida Learning Committee promised by Governor Scott's re-election campaign in September. Here is a description of the make-up and duties of the committee:

The Keep Florida Learning Committee will review further deregulation opportunities for the school system, evaluate instructional material review processes used by school boards, identify strategies to increase parental involvement, and review the implementation of the Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment. Committee membership will include the Commissioner of Education, teachers, superintendents, school board members, higher education representatives, legislators and members of the public.

Applications for the eleven person committee are available HERE and are due by January 31st with the first conference call meeting scheduled for March after the legislature convenes. 

Given the number of people that will be able to serve, the number of different competing constituencies, and the time line, the potential for meaningful and implemented recommendations this year remains to be seen. 

Please apply to show the DOE the depth of concern about Florida's federally and nationally controlled and incentivized and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards and testing regime and increase the chances of more than token representation by those of us opposed to Common Core and high stakes testing.  And please stay tuned.  Thank you! 

12-14 Update! Legislative Delegation Meetings - PLEASE Attend Yours! December, 2014

We have updated the table with all of the other addresses and now maps for the remaining meetings through January!

Please find your county's meeting HERE attend if you can. They finish for 2014 one week before Christmas and then start back up January 9th. This is a great way to talk about Common Core without going to Tallahassee!  Thank you!

Legislative Delegation Meeting Schedule - Please Attend Yours! December, 2014

Many thanks to Hamilton Boone for pulling together this table of legislative delegation meetings remaining before the 2015 session begins. Please do your best to attend the meetings in your area.  We have some addresses and are working to get more, but You may need to contact your own delegation for the specific address of each meeting if you dont find the one you need!  You can use the well organized effort of Lake County Against Common Core as an example.  These meetings are a great way to explain to your legislators about the problems and dangers of Common Core without having to travel all the way to Tallahassee!

Monday Dec 8, 2014        
9:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Martin County Stuart City Hall, 121 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart. 9:00AM-12:00PM
1:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: St. Lucie County Indian River State College, Kight Center, 3209 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce 1:30PM-N/A  
3:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Orange County Orange County Administration Center Commission Chambers
201 South Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Tuesday Dec 9, 2014        
6:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Jefferson County County Annex 435 W. Walnut St. Monticello 6:30PM-N/A  
Wednesday Dec 10, 2014      
9:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Pinellas County St. Petersburg College, Digitorium 9200 113th St. North, Seminole)Seminole 9:00AM-12:00PM
1:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: DeSoto County DeSoto County Commissioners Chambers 201 E. Oak St., Arcadia 1:30PM-N/A  
 Thursday Dec 11, 2014      
9:30AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Hillsborough County Hillsborough Community College, Dale Mabry Campus 4001 W Tampa Bay Blvd. Tampa 9:30AM-N/A  
10:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Putnam County Putnam County Board of Commissioners Chambers,
2509 Crill
Avenue, Suite
100 Palatka
4:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Bradford County County Commission Chambers North wing of the County Courthouse, 945 North Temple Ave. Starke 4:00PM-6:00PM
Monday Dec 15, 2014        
2:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Palm Beach County Children's Services Council, 32300 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach (map)
5:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Escambia County Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio, 1000 College Blvd. in Pensacola (map)
Tuesday Dec 16, 2014      
4:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Clay County Clay County Administration Building, 477 Houston Street, Green Cove Springs, FL 3204 (map) 4:00PM-6:00PM
 Wednesday Dec 17, 2014      
10:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Palm Beach County Atlantis Country Club, 190 Atlantis Boulevard, Lake Worth (map) 10:00AM-12:00PM
1:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Central Florida Disneys Coronado Springs Resort, Walt Disney World, 1000 W Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 (map) 1:30PM-3:30PM
 Thursday Dec 18, 2014      
1:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Brevard County 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way (Bldg C in the Commission Room), Viera, FL (map) 1:00PM-5:00PM
  J Legislative Delegation: Flagler County Flagler County Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Building 2 , Board Chambers First Floor , Bunnell, Florida 32110 (map) 1:00PM-4:00PM
 Friday Jan 9, 2015        
10:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Lafayette County Lafayette County Courthouse, 120 W Main St, Mayo (map) 10:00AM-N/A  
1:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Dixie County Cross City City Hall, 99 NE 210th Ave, Cross City (map) 1:30PM-N/A  
4:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Gilchrist County Gilchrist County Commission Chambers, 210 S Main St , Trenton (map) 4:00PM-N/A  
Monday Jan 12, 2015        
6:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Marion County Marion County Extension Services Auditorium , 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala FL 34471 (map) :00PM-N/A  
 Tuesday Jan 13, 2015      
9:00AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Lee County Nursing Building (Room AA-177) at Florida Southwestern State College (map) 9:00AM-5:00PM
  J Legislative Delegation: Polk County Polk County Administration Building - Boardroom, 330 W. Church St, Bartow, FL 33830 (map) 9:00AM-N/A  
  J Legislative Delegation: Suwannee County Suwannee County Judicial Annex , 218 S Parshley St, Live Oak (map) 9:00AM-N/A  
9:30AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Palm Beach County Alzheimer's Community Care Center, 470 East 1st Street, Pahokee (map) 9:30AM-11:30AM
1:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Columbia County Florida Gateway College Library , 149 SE College Pl, Lake City (map) 1:00PM-N/A  
3:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Baker County Baker County Commission Chambers , 55 N 3rd St , Macclenny (map) 3:30PM-N/A  
5:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Union County Union County Courthouse, 55 W Main St , Lake Butler (map) 5:30PM-N/A  
Wednesday Jan 14, 2015      
9:30AM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Levy County Union County Courthouse, 55 W Main St , Lake Butler (map) 9:30AM-N/A  
1:30PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Palm Beach County Fulton-Holland Educational Services Center, 3300 Forest Hill Boulevard, West Palm Beach (map) 1:30PM-3:00PM
3:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Citrus County Citrus County Courthouse , 110 N Apopka Ave, Inverness (map) 3:00PM-N/A  
4:00PM Event Location End    
  J Legislative Delegation: Broward County Broward County Governmental Center, Commission Chambers (115 S. Andrews Ave., Rm. 422, Ft. Lauderdale) 4:00PM-6:00PM (Local bill public hearing only if needed)

FSCCC Partner Organization Lake County Against Common Core Speaks Out at Legislative Delegation Meeting December, 2014

Many thanks to our partner organization Lake County Against Common Core, whose parents organized so well and gave impassioned speeches about the dangers and problems about Common Core at the Lake County legislative delegation meeting on December 2nd. Here is a quote from the Daily Commercial article about the event:

"I am here as an infuriated mother of elementary school children and who are demanding to know how this can be fixed," [parent and teacher Jane] Irwin said, addressing Sens. Alan Hays and Dorothy Hukill and Reps. Larry Metz, Jennifer Sullivan and Marlene O'Toole.

"The standards are completely developmentally inappropriate for K through 5. They are fast forwarding skill mastery to unacceptable levels. Forced learning is not natural, it's not lasting and it is certainly not authentic ... There is hardly any logic to the sequence of learning, which the kids are struggling to master, because none of it makes any sense. The math curriculum is convoluted and inefficient, and it appears to be designed for children to fail. And if that is the plan, congratulations, because that is exactly what they are doing," she said.

"There must be a resolution put forth to end the toxic testing system that has become prevalent," Irwin said. "It is shameful that our kids no longer get a well-rounded education that includes the arts on a regular basis in order to pay for those tests. Not to mention the stress, the anxiety and the classroom time that is lost for real authentic learning."

Here is the video of Jane Irwin who is quoted above:

Thanks to Tina Neace who delivered FSCCC's remarks:

Here is the Lake County Against Common Core leader Lory Baxley who wisely discussed Florida replacing Common Core with one of the other best sets of state standards:

Kristi Burns, PhD, scientist and spokesperson for Lake County Healthy Schools group spoke out against toxic-testing:


Here is parent Christine Magnifico:

Parent provides solutions to fix the problem of toxic-testing in the state of Florida:

Here is Lake County father Brian Hofer:

Here is Stuart Klatte, President of the Lake County Teachers Association:

Here is another mom, Carolyn Van Dyken:

Senator Alan Hayes responded to what he heard with this speech:

Again, we thank Lake County Against Common Core and hold them up as a model for other counties in Florida to speak to their legislators!

Missouri Judge Issues Injunction Against Paying Dues for SBAC Common Core Test November, 2014

Congratulations to the activists in Missouri as a judge there issued a temporary restraining order in the the lawsuit filed  against that state's involvement in SBAC, one of the federally funded, federally controlled Common Core testing consortia. Below is an excerpt from that order as reported by Missouri Education Watchdog:

"The Court Orders that until further order, decree, or judgment of the Court, Defendants, and each of them, and all those in active concert or participation with them are enjoined and restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium, the University of California, or the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, whether directly or indirectly, including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to "Invoice #1″ issued to the State by "Smarter Balanced at UCLA" and dated September 29, 2014. Unless otherwise provided by this Court, this temporary restraining order will expire fifteen days from the date on which it it entered."

The activists in Missouri admit that this a great step forward, but that there is much work that still need to be done:

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state's membership in it should be null and void...

...Neither the TRO nor the suit itself would bar the state from purchasing the SBAC test outright. However, if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia of states.  As such it would weaken the federal government's requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

We will be following this case closely. Stay tuned!

Arne Duncan Seeking to "Limit the Authority of the States" on Testing November, 2014

Sadly, as with many other areas of life, the current administration is seeking to further erode the sovereignty of states to make the decisions that are they are constitutionally empowered to do.  The latest outrage in education is recently released new rules from the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding alternative testing.  The abstract is quite alarming:

The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time.  (Emphasis added)

Full analysis and action plan will be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Marion County School Board Advances Resolution Affirming Parental Rights on Testing November, 2014

The Marion County School Board advanced a resolution on November 19th by a 3-2 vote asking for legislation to allow parents to opt their children out of mandated testing without penalty.  According to the Ocala Star Banner article, Chairwoman Angie Boynton, Nancy Stacy, and Kelli King voted for the resolution, while Bobby James and board vice-chairwoman Carol Ely voted against it.

Here are some of the issues brought up in the resolution as described in the article:

Provide a three-year transition to develop a viable accountability system. Delay using the results of the new test in determining school grades, student promotion, retention and graduation -- as well as using the results to determine teacher pay -- until July 1, 2017. Until then, districts would be given flexibility to set their own criteria for these decisions. However, the state should continue to provide appropriate assessments for students to meet graduation requirements. The tests should be for diagnostic purposes for creating baseline scores until 2017-18.

It asked the state to immediately provide a process for public school parents and students to be excused without penalty from participation in the statewide required assessments. It further asks the state to adopt an opt-out policy that would "allow parents to have their students excused, without penalty, from these required tests."

The Marion County Board is the first school board in Florida to our knowledge to understand and affirm the primary position of parents in the education and upbringing of their children by putting the opt out in parents' hands.  They, especially Boynton, King and Stacy deserve great thanks and congratulations on this.  Let us hope that other school boards follow suit.

Oklahoma's Jenni White Takes on Fordham's Michael Petrilli in Common Core Debate November, 2014

Jenni White, a wonderfull mom, co-founder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, and the activist leader who was instrumental in the passage of Oklahoma's nation leading Common Core repal bill, debated the Gates funded Fordham Foundation's Michael Petrilli on Common Core on November 11th.  Here is the video. Enjoy!


Many School Board Candidates Win on Anti-Common Core (FL Standards) Platform or Concerns about Testing November, 2014

Many Florida School Board candidates won election or re-election after publicy opposing Common Core (rebranded as the Florida Standards) or opposing the accompanying high stakes testing regime.  FSCCC congratulates these winners and thanks all the candidates who ran on this platform to protect the hearts and minds of our children, as well as all of you for supporting them.  We look forward to working together to remove the scourge of Common Core from Florida and our nation.  Here is the list, which is not complete:

District 3 Gunnar Paulson (testing)
District 5 - Rob Hyatt
District 1 Lee Swift (testing)
District 4 Ian Vincent (testing)
District 1 Kelly Lichter
District 3 Erika Donalds
District 1 Betsy Condon
District 2 Janet McDonald
District 2 Sally Harris
District 1 Rusty Williams (Incumbent - no challenger, but opposes Common Core)
District 3 Alan Justice
District 5 Sid Johnson
Indian River
District 1 - Shawn Frost
District 4 - Charles Searcy
District 3 Marc Dodd
District 5 Stephanie Luke (testing/inappropriate standards)
District 1 Mary Fischer (Incumbent - testing)
District 4 Ken Teuber (Indicated some concern about Common Core and testing)
District 1 Alva Striplin (testing)
District 1 - Christina Roberts
District 3 Bobby James
District 5 - Kelly King
District 5 - Ron Martin
District 1 Dr. Lamar White
District 1 Joe Arnold
District 1 Bill Sublette (Incumbent - testing)
District 1 Jay Wheeler
District 4 Clarence Thacker (testing/teacher evaluations)
District 5 Ricky Booth (testing/teacher evaluations)
Palm Beach
District 6 Marcia Andrews
District 5 - Steve Luikart (Incumbent)
District 4 Ken Peluso
Santa Rosa
District 3 Carol Boston
District 1 Jeff Bauer
St. Lucie
District 3 Donna Mills (Incumbent)
Suwanee County
District 5 Ron White
District 1 Dr. John Hill
District 1 Verna Brock
District 2 Kim Kirby
District 3 Bill Eddins
District 5 Jason Catalano


Governor Scott Wins Re-Election While Avoiding Bush Support for Common Core Amid National Backlash November, 2014

As in 2010, Florida Governor Rick Scott eked out a 1.2 per cent electoral victory on Tuesday over Democrat Charlie Crist and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie.  The governor's very disciplined campaign won by spending tens of millions of dollars on negative ads, the most in Florida history, and focusing on his strengths, the most prominent of which was clearly the economy and his excellent and successful efforts to increase jobs. Scott was also aided by tying Crist to President Obama's deeply unpopular policies

At the same time, the issue of Common Core, on which he was clearly vulnerable, was rarely mentioned openly on the campaign trail.  The issue of testing was brought up in the second debate, but the standards were discussed by the Scott campaign only in the context of yet another review commission in Scott's policy paper on education.  Even Jeb Bush, one of the nation's strongest proponents of Common Core could not mention the standards in the campaign commercial he cut for the current governor in his home state.  When Bush did discuss the standards on the campaign trail, all he did was make matters worse by admitting that the changes to Common Core that became the Florida Standards were "not substantial."  This was similar to the awkward incident where North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis has to publicly distance himself from Bush at a campaign event.  Clearly, Bush's support of Common Core was a big loser in the 2014 midterms and will be an albatross around his neck should he choose to run for president in 2016. 

FSCCC congratulates Governor Scott, hopes that he will do what he stated in his public and private discussions on this topic, and pledges to work with him and the legislature to remove Common Core from our state to protect our children's lives and futures.

Elsewhere in Florida, dozens of school board candidates and several state legislative candidates or incumbents won election or re-election opposing Common Core and or high stakes testing as a significant part of their platform. Even for a few of the school board candidates, whether winning or losing, who may not have been sincerely and strongly opposed to Common Core, it was clearly the major issue in contested races.  The list of winning school board candidates is below and HERE. FSCCC thanks all those, whether winning or not who stood for the hearts and minds of our children. This is especially true of those who were not victorious like Don Armstrong, Terry Kemple, Dipah Shah, and Chase Basinger who had to deal with significant amounts of support from pro-Common Core or pro-testing forces. The legislative candidates included anti-Common Core champion Rep. Debbie Mayfield, as well as Jennifer Sullivan, and Julio Gonzalez.

And across the nation, Common Core was strongly repudiated in Arizona and Georgia with the elections of Diane Douglas and Richard Woods, respectively as state superintendents.  Both ran on a strong anti-Common Core platform, which significantly boosts the likelihood of repeal efforts in those states. Idaho, South Carolina, Wyoming also elected state superintendents that will be more likely to work against the standards.

It will now be up to all of us to work at every level to remove these academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative standards from our state.  Thank you for your support.

 Winning School Board Candidates

Unless otherwise indicated, these candidates publicly opposed Common Core (AKA Florida) standards.
District 3 Gunnar Paulson (testing)
District 5 - Rob Hyatt
District 1 Lee Swift (testing)
District 4 Ian Vincent (testing)
District 1 Kelly Lichter
District 3 Erika Donalds
District 1 Betsy Condon
District 2 Janet McDonald
District 2 Sally Harris
District 1 Rusty Williams (Incumbent - no challenger, but opposes Common Core)
District 3 Alan Justice
District 5 Sid Johnson
Indian River
District 1 - Shawn Frost
District 4 - Charles Searcy
District 3 Marc Dodd
District 5 Stephanie Luke (testing/inappropriate standards)
District 1 Mary Fischer (Incumbent - testing)
District 4 Ken Teuber (Indicated some concern about Common Core and testing)
District 1 Alva Striplin (testing)
District 1 - Christina Roberts
District 3 Bobby James
District 5 - Kelly King
District 1 Dr. Lamar White
District 1 Joe Arnold
District 1 Bill Sublette (Incumbent - testing)
District 1 Jay Wheeler
District 4 Clarence Thacker (testing/teacher evaluations)
District 5 Ricky Booth (testing/teacher evaluations)
Palm Beach
District 6 Marcia Andrews
District 5 - Steve Luikart (Incumbent)
District 4 Ken Peluso
Santa Rosa
District 3 Carol Boston
District 1 Jeff Bauer
St. Lucie
District 3 Donna Mills (Incumbent)
Suwanee County
District 5 Ron White
District 1 Dr. John Hill
District 1 Verna Brock
District 2 Kim Kirby
District 3 Bill Eddins
District 5 Jason Catalano


The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC), an organization of over fifty groups, and Florida Parents RISE, a group of parents from all over the State of Florida, co-founded by the three co-founders and former directors of Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC), both of which represent tens of thousands of Floridians, issue the following statement:  

"As co-founders of FPACC, we are very disappointed in the letter issued by Laura Zorc as it is focused on an individual candidate and not the issue of how extraordinarily dangerous Common Core is to the education, development, and futures of our children, said Stacie Clarke, Debbie Higgenbotham, and Meredith Mears, co-founders of Florida Parents RISE."
"The letter does not come close to representing the views of the entire Florida anti-Common Core movement. FSCCC is focused on education issues. Our coalition is too broad and too diverse to make individual endorsements. And, apparently unlike FPACC, our organization is not set up in such a way as to allow the endorsement of particular candidates," said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of FSCCC. "Voters will need to weigh the positions and actions of all three candidates on the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core/Florida Standards against their own views about the candidates' actions and positions on other issues important to them."
Both FSCCC and Florida Parents RISE will continue to report and inform our membership about the outrages associated with the Common Core standards, tests, and data collection system and mobilize parents, grandparents, and business owners to action to protect the minds and hearts of our children and work for education for a free nation.

Open Letter to Governor Scott on Common Core October, 2014

Dear Governor Scott,
We, the undersigned groups, are aware that you have received a letter from a few groups listing some recommendations for what your campaign might consider to elicit the support of the thousands and thousands of parents and grandparents that are ready to deny your re-election over the Common Core issue. Floridians have come to see the devastating effects of the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core (AKA Florida) Standards and associated tests by the American Institutes for Research on their children and grandchildren. This letter is to further elucidate the key issues, as well as to clarify and expand upon those suggestions.
Here is the current situation:

  • Standards authors David Coleman admits he was unqualified and Jason Zimba admits that the standards are inadequate for STEM majors at selective universities, while major proponent and funder Bill Gates admits that the results of the Common Core scheme will not be known for ten years.
  • The offices of pediatricians and psychologists are overflowing with students that are showing physical and emotional symptoms of profound anxiety and depression because these standards and tests are so developmentally inappropriate, destroying the joy of learning and being tantamount to cognitive child abuse.
  • The US Department of Education, The National Association of State Boards of Education, and many other groups and individuals admit that one of the primary purposes of the standards and tests is to psychologically train and profile our children.
  • Floridians are furious at being told that Common Core is gone from Florida when only 0.9% of the standards were changed and given a different name, while Commissioner Stewart, Speaker Weatherford, Jeb Bush, and others have all admitted that the changes were insubstantial and or that that was the plan all along. The facts that neither Jeb Bush nor the US Department of Education made any comment or complaint about the state's change to the "Florida Standards" also confirms that there was no real change from Common Core.
  • Switching from the PARCC test to the AIR test did not provide significant relief from federal overreach as AIR is developing the computer adaptive testing for SBAC, the other federal testing consortium. In addition, there are serious concerns about our state paying an extra $5 million to field test questions in Utah; their admission to a major behavioral emphasis in testing & research, not academics, including the "social genome project," psychosocial education, social justice, School-to-Work, and GLBT issues; and their involvement in data mining individual Florida students & teachers.
  • Parents will also be upset when they find out that the much touted data protection bill only solves collection of 3 out of 400 invasive data points or that their supposed freedom to control curriculum in their districts is non-existent, because curriculum is required to align with Common Core.
  • Parents and teachers across the state and nation are stoking grassfires of rebellion to the academically unhelpful, excessive, invasive and expensive high stakes tests that are robbing 40-50% of learning time.
  • The conservative grassroots of the Republican Party of Florida is increasingly tired of being ignored, minimized, and dismissed despite many Republican Executive Committees, two committees within the RPOF, the Legislative Affairs Committee as well as many national Republican organizations passing unanimous or near unanimous resolutions against Common Core. This is evidenced by low volunteer turnout.
  • The anger and frustration about these facts is evident in polling data showing that two unknown and underfunded candidates received almost twice as many votes as your margin of victory in the 2010 election with full Tea Party support; that despite the $44 million dollars that your campaign has spent on ads against your opponent, you are still slightly behind; and that both you and Charlie Crist are receiving low marks for honesty.
Quite frankly, given the dire consequences to our children and our nation's future of continuing with these horrific standards, tests and data collection system, we believe that the time for "review committees," "discussions," "statements," etc. is long over. Here is a review of the exit strategy that your campaign team has already been given with one or two other ideas for real action BEFORE the election to show people you mean what you say:
1)      Sign an executive order pulling Florida out of the Common Core standards and write a letter to Secretary Duncan notifying him of the same.
2)      Cancel the contract with AIR due to the many problems described above.
3)      Pledge to sign a bill in the 2015 legislative session that removes Florida from the unconstitutional federal mandates of No Child Left Behind, therefore allowing standards and testing decisions to be made at least at the state level in accordance with the Tenth Amendment or ideally at the local level to comply with the Florida Constitution as well (Article IX, Section 4b).
4)      Instruct the Florida Board of Education that there shall be no penalties imposed on employees or districts if parents take advantage of the legal right to opt students out of standardized Common Core/Florida Standards tests.
5)      Instruct the state Board of Education to immediately produce and disseminate widely an informative piece which provides parents with information regarding their legal rights to opt out of standardized Common Core/Florida Standards testing and data collection.
Many of the members of these groups want to vote for you because of your wonderful efforts on many other issues.   However, If Common Core is not stopped, all of your other excellent work on these other issues will be for naught because in not too many years, our children will not understand our heritage of freedom and how to defend the Constitution or free markets. Their lives and futures are too important to compromise.  Thank you for your consideration. Best wishes as the campaign concludes.
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
This is an organization of over 50 member groups that includes:
  • Bear Witness Central
  • Florida Eagle Forum
  • The Tea Party Network - a statewide organization of dozens of  Tea Party and patriot groups across Florida
American Hispanic Coalition
First Coast Tea Party
Florida Citizens Alliance - another statewide multi-group coalition 
Florida Parents RISE 
The Leaderboard Roundtable
Miami Tea Party USA

Florida Today Publishes Dr. Effrem's Rebuttal to Crisafulli on Testing October, 2014

Florida Today published Dr. Effrem's rebuttal to Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli's recent op-ed supporting Florida's current very problematic testing scheme:

Rep. Steve Crisafulli's glowing defense of testing in Florida, which was detailed in his recent FLORIDA TODAY guest column, "Testing is part of life," requires a response.

Perhaps with a few more facts, he and the state Legislature will understand how much state sovereignty, local and parental control has been ceded to the federal government and corporate testing entities.

With regard to the history Crisafulli described, while it is true that state-mandated testing began in Florida in 1999, he failed to mention that it was due to the federal mandates started by President George H.W. Bush and completed by President Clinton.

These completely unconstitutional mandates required statewide standards and tests for the first time in our nation's history, becoming the first large step toward the destruction of parental and local control. That destruction was continued by President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a law whose many mandates are nearly universally agreed to have been unworkable. So much so that President Obama used the 2009 stimulus bill and illegal, unconstitutional conditional waivers from NCLB to bribe/blackmail states to accept Common Core and the national tests.

Perhaps Crisafulli, the Florida House speaker-designate, is misinformed or unaware that the statewide tests are not at all diagnostic for academic issues. It is a well-known fact these test results come back in the late spring or summer, far too late to be useful for the teachers in the year they were given. Instead they are used to psychologically profile our children and, according to the U.S. Department of Education and other organizations, measure "social-emotional learning" and "psychological resources." They also are used for data collection to reward and punish teachers, principals and school districts to make sure that the now nationalized Common Core standards rebranded as the Florida Standards are being taught.

It is very disappointing to see Chrisafulli is still trying to promote the idea that Florida has its own unique set of standards when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, former Gov. Jeb Bush, state Education Commissioner Pamela Stewart and numerous others have all admitted the changes to Common Core were insubstantial and the federal government did not bat an eye, because the changes made to Common Core were so insignificant.

Crisafulli is correct that students have others ways in statute to show proficiency for the high-stakes test in third grade and high school. If only these are the high-stakes tests, then he should not be against parents exercising their unalienable right to direct the education and upbringing of their children by opting them out of these unconstitutional, federally mandated tests, but according to an email he sent to another media outlet, he is.

In his guest column, the speaker-designate reveals the real reason he is against parents being able to opt out by saying, "Finally, our accountability system is the basis for a significant amount of funding. We have a partnership with the federal government ... If we simply refuse these requirements, we would certainly lose billions of dollars for our schools."
These tests are a federal requirement of NCLB. Contrary to what Crisafulli says about making sure the federal "partnership" is "constantly monitored to prevent encroachment upon our state's rights," both NCLB and the waivers are being selectively and arbitrarily enforced, as evidenced by the threat to Florida's waiver over English language learners and the revocation of Oklahoma's waiver after it repealed Common Core.

Florida cowers under these requirements, making elected legislators and school board members all but irrelevant. States and school districts spend millions of dollars every year giving these tests and complying with all of the regulations. They will spend millions more they do not have to give these tests online, which keeps what is on the tests away from parents and teachers, making them useless for diagnosis in the classroom.

The truth is that Florida receives a total of $1.5 billion from the federal government for K-12, about $1 billion of which is for the programs he describes. This constitutes about 2 percent of the entire state budget and approximately 6.7 percent of the total education budget. While not an insubstantial amount of money, it is enough to get us hooked but not enough to help.

Florida was willing to give up five times more than that annually to not participate in the Medicaid expansion to protect its state sovereignty and fiscal health. The Legislature and governor should do the same to uphold parental rights and the U.S. and Florida constitutions and statutes.

Life is a series of tests, and no one is opposing testing, but it needs to be at the local level, not in the hands of the federal government. The federal government, Bill Gates, and several states admit that the national standards and tests drive curriculum. Florida must opt out of NCLB, let parents opt out of federally mandated tests, and return control to the districts where it belongs.

Collier County School Board Candidates Erika B. Donalds & Kathy Ryan Interviewed on 92.5 Fox News October, 2014

Supporters and citizens in Collier County, please listen to this radio interview/debate conducted by Drew Steele of 92.5 Fox News in the Fort Meyers/Naples area.  There are definitely clear contrasts on Common Core and high stakes testing between Erika Donalds, a mom, accountant, and activist who has been battling Common Core for at three years and Kathy Ryan, a former educator who seems supports the idea of national standards, but believes that there have been implementation issues.

There will also be a forum/debate between these two candidates hosted by the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance on October 13th at 7 PM (Doors open at 6:30) at River Park Community Center, 301 11th St N., Naples, FL 34102 The forum will be moderated by Jared Grifoni and Rick Borman. Questions for this debate will come from the moderators and the audience. All Collier County voters regardless of school District can vote in this election.  All voters should VOTE and VOTE INFORMED!

HSLDA Releases Preview of Parent Interview Video - Part 2 of Building the Machine October, 2014

In another just released and very powerful video, our friends at Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) interviewed many parents from New York state, including a teacher and a psychologist, that described the devastating effects of Common Core on children.  These included an enormous increase in school avoidance, headaches and stomach aches, self-mutilation, and even one suicide attempt. Here is a preview of these heartbreaking stories.  Please watch and join us in our efforts:


Even Moderate Bush Endorsee Publicly Distances Himself from Jeb on Common Core September, 2014

More evidence that conservative support for a presidential run by Jeb Bush and winning the Republican nomination in general would be very difficult because of Common Core emerged from North Carolina this week. 

Although one can question how sincere he was in calling out Common Core in the primary, given backing by ardent Common Core supporters Bush, Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rove's PAC, we had previously reported that now Republican nominee Thom Tillis had done exactly that in order to win the primary:

On Common Core, Tillis said recently in a Senate debate that he supports a repeal of the national education standards, which are loathed by some conservatives who consider them an intrusion into local decision-making.

Now, even though he won the primary, Tillis is behind in a very tight race with incumbent Democrat Kay Hagen.  Understanding how important it is going to be to rally the conservative base, Tillis, despite the endorsement, funding, and campaigning by Bush, was willing to publicly distance himself from Bush on Common Core during a campaign event where he was present.  The New York Times' Johnathan Martin described it this way:

But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate...

...On the Common Core, the educational standards first devised by a bipartisan group of governors, which have become deeply unpopular among conservative activists, Mr. Tillis also sounded far more conservative than Mr. Bush. The North Carolina House approved the standards in 2011, but, facing primary challengers from the right earlier this year, Mr. Tillis backed away from them.

"I'm not willing to settle just for a national standard if we think we can find things to set a new standard and a best practice," Mr. Tillis said, pivoting to an attack on the federal Education Department as "a bureaucracy of 5,000 people in Washington" who make an average salary of a little more than $100,000.

While criticizing the Education Department is common among Republicans, Mr. Tillis was standing next to the younger brother of President George W. Bush, whose signature accomplishments include No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education law run by the department.

Jeff Henderson
of Sunshine State News wrote this about the same event:

During his trip to North Carolina, Bush weighed in on two issues conservatives are currently engaged on: Common Core and immigration. On both of those issues, Bush and conservatives hold very different opinions. No nationally prominent Republican has backed Common Core  as much as Bush has while conservatives are increasingly critical of those educational standards. Much of Bush's national reputation is based on his education record. Education has also been Bush's top priority since leaving office. But it's an issue that could come back to haunt him in 2016 as he continues to champion Common Core and conservatives are still unhappy about No Child Left Behind which has George W. Bush's fingerprints all over it.

We believe that if Bush's endorsees are forced to publicly distance themselves from him in his presence at campaign events over the very important issues of Common Core and immigration, Bush is in real trouble.  Both Martin and Henderson agree that a presidential run will be very problematic for him with conservatives.  Here is Henderson's assessment:

Even as Republican candidates welcome Bush's assistance in helping their campaigns raise funds, they're not exactly on board with him on some of the issues conservatives care the most about. That's not a good sign if Jeb Bush wants to follow his father and his brother to the White House in 2016.

Hopefully, the former governor will listen both to his family and to the Republican base and not divide the party over these critical issues, giving America more echoes instead of choices and pale pastels instead of bold colors on educational freedom.  The last thing that the United States needs is another president who increases the already gargantuan footprint of the federal government in an area in which it is not constitutionally authorized to be involved, and that follows in the footsteps of his father, George HW Bush, as well as Presidents Clinton, his brother George W. Bush, and Obama. Each of these presidents did much to weaken state sovereignty, local, and parental control over education, to the point that they are on life support now with Common Core.  Jeb Bush would preside over their funeral.

Lee County Votes to Eliminate ALL District standardized Tests for Grades K-5! September, 2014

In another precedent setting vote, the Lee County School Board voted on September 23rd to opt out of all of the district mandated tests for grades K-5, relieving the parents, teachers, and especially the students of the stress of 68 extra exams. Mandated, high stakes exams beyond the once yearly test starting in third grade are needlessly stressful, developmentally inappropriate and academically unhelpful for informing instruction.

The vote was 3-1 with Don Armstrong, Mary Fischer, and Jeanne Dozier all voting in favor, Cathleen Morgan, in her usual support of the corporate testing crowd, voting against the measure, and board chairman Tom Scott absent due to illness. As reported in the News Press by Emily Atteberry, board member Mary Fischer, who wore red for the vote, called the excessive testing a form of "child abuse."

School board member Mary Fischer (Photo: Emily Atteberry/

The brushfires of rebellion to this corporately lobbied, Bush Family promoted testing regime are burning hotter all the time.

Missourians Sue State Based on Illegal Payments for Common Core Tests September, 2014

Anne Gassel and Gretchen Logue, co-founders of our friends, Missouri Coalition Against Common Core joined Fred Sauer in filing a lawsuit against Governor Nixon, Commissioner Nicastro, and others. They argue that the state's payments for the federally funded, federally supervised national tests, SBAC, constitute a violation of the Compact Clause of the US Constitution and numerous other state and federal statutes.
Truth in American Education describes the lawsuit this way:

By passing HB 1490 by an overwhelming majority, the Missouri state legislature effectively repudiated Common Core, requiring it to be replaced by 2016.  But Missouri has not withdrawn from the consortium of states implementing Common Core aligned tests.  According to public records, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to send millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to the Smarter Balanced consortium in 2015, which will be used to support the implementation of Common Core in numerous other states.  These payments are illegal under the federal constitution, federal statutes, and Missouri state law.

Governor Nixon and Commissioner Nicastro engaged in a long course of conduct, in cooperation with the federal Department of Education, to commit Missouri's public schools to Common Core without legislative approval.  The "consortium" of States implementing tests aligned with Common Core constitutes an illegal end-run around federal statutes forbidding the federal Department from implementing a national test or curriculum.  Even though Missouri is committed to exiting Common Core, DESE nevertheless continues to participate in SBAC and to administer the SBAC common core aligned tests in this state.

"The Missouri Legislature and Missouri voters have rejected Common Core.  Yet DESE continues to plan to send millions of dollars of payments to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to support the implementation of Common Core in other states.  The consortium is an unconstitutional entity, and these payments are illegal.  We will continue to fight to protect Missouri taxes from being spent for this illegal purpose," said Gassel and Logue.

We will follow this lawsuit and report on developments as they happen.  Stay tuned.

Greater FL Consortium of School Boards UNANIMOUSLY Passes Resolution to "Suspend High Stakes Testing" September, 2014

The Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards unanimously passed a resolution against high stakes testing.  After at least two hours of discussion, they rejected the language we reported in our last post about this, including the parental opt-out language that we supported, and went with a simple motion to "Suspend high stakes testing." The details of what this means will still have to be worked out. 

Here are some statements from some of the board members present from the Fort Meyers News Press:

"It gives parents some confidence that the school board worked for them," Dozier said. "I think the parents will be happy with that."

Karen Brill, the president of the consortium, said she believes the consortium can serve as a model for future change at the state level.

"This was like moving mountains with this group," she said. "I think what we showed to them is that we're really all saying the same things but in different ways. We're showing the Legislature that they can do it because we're just as diverse as they are."


Miami-Dade board member Lawrence Feldman, whose district has made headlines in recent weeks for its outspoken stances on testing, urged the group to beef up the motion.

Here is a photo of activists rallying at the event:

The group will still meet for a few hous on Saturday the 20th.

Florida Education Association & Palm Beach County Also Pass Anti-Testing Resolutions September, 2014

After the Lee County vote and then rescission and the Florida School Boards Association discussion, the tsunami of opposition to high stakes testing continues to gain momentum.  Both the Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Palm Beach County School Board (PBCSB) have recently passed resolutions against the use of high stakes testing for as the sole measure of accountability for our children, teachers, and districts.

The FEA, the largest statewide teachers' union has many grave concerns summarized in the introductory paragraph of their resolution:

The recent calls for Florida school districts to withdraw or opt-out of all state testing mandates is yet another serious symptom of our profoundly troubled education system and the state's incoherent and unsound school reform and accountability policies. Until autonomy is returned to local school districts to decide what is best for their student population and can develop a fair and accurate system of assessing student performance, the State of Florida must provide a legitimate process for parents and students to decline participation in these educationally unsound tests.

Their resolution and recommendations are as follows:
  1. Supports student assessment, aligned to grade and content-specific standards, administered with minimal disruption of the instructional process and designed to provide prompt and worthwhile data to assist teachers in addressing individual student learning needs;
  2. Supports provisions which will give school districts with the flexibility to develop appropriate measures of student success for grades and subjects not assessed by statewide tests;
  3. Urges all new assessments be field tested in the State of Florida by representative demographic populations and validated; (Emphasis on original)
  4. Urges rejection of any untested assessments for any high stakes purpose including criteria for student promotion or retention, teacher evaluation, or school and district grades and other high stakes decisions until their usefulness and validity is determined;
  5. Supports a moratorium on using the incoherent, volatile school grading formula which ill-serves students, parents, teachers, Educational Support Professionals and Florida school communities until such time as a broadly understood and supported system is tested, measured and in position to replace the current system;
  6. Supports a less intrusive system of student assessment that provides helpful, timely feedback and does not reduce valuable classroom instructional time;
  7. Urges a longer transition time period beginning with kindergarten to realign and revamp the accountability system and regain the trust of students, teachers, parents and Floridians;
  8.  Urges adequate state funding for technology infrastructure to ensure that load testing and rectification will precede the implementation of any new assessments with sufficient lead time and resources to correct any deficiencies, and;
  9. Urges the Governor of the State of Florida to exercise his executive authority and protect the wellbeing of Florida's students and the legitimacy of Florida's education system by immediately providing a process for public
The Palm Beach County resolution, though shorter was very similar in tone.  While FSCCC would instead return autonomy to districts to so that parents, teachers, and duly elected school boards can develop any necessary accountability system, consistent with the U.S. and Florida Constitutions, this language is a step in the right direction:

BE IT RESOLVED, that the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, calls on Governor Scott, the Florida Department of Education, and the state legislature to provide a three-year transition to July 1, 2017 for full implementation of Florida standards and accountability, with no impact on students, teachers, school administrators, and school district assessment and evaluation changes. Further, the Legislature should delay the use of Florida State Assessment results in determining student promotion, graduation or for teacher evaluation until July 1, 2017. Districts should be given flexibility in the interim to set their own criteria by which to determine student promotion and teacher evaluation. Further, use of state student assessment data in the interim should be used solely for diagnostic purposes in order to assure that the state's system is valid, reliable, and fair and to create a baseline for FY18; that the State Board of Education should empower a truly representative panel of stakeholders--especially educators and parents--who represent all of Florida to validate that all segments of the accountability system are fair, reliable, accurate, and funded; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, calls on the United States Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the "No Child Left Behind Act," reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.

These resolutions combined with the pending resolutions from FSBA and the Greater Florida  Consortium of School Boards will continue to cut off the data flow to the government and corporations, stop psychological profiling and career tracking, and help teachers to really teach and not have to spend 40-50% of the instructional time supposed to teach our kids on testing.  The powers that be will soon not be able to keep the rising outrage from parents, students, teachers, administrators and school boards at bay.

Greater FL Consortium of School Boards Discusses Legislatve Agenda September, 2014

The Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards is meeting tomorrow and Saturday (September 19th and 20th. This organization of eleven boards on both coasts of Florida represents 42% of the students, 55% of the tax base and 51% of the legislative members in the state of Florida. They will be discussing their legislative agenda for 2015.
Unfortunately there is no language in their proposals opposing the Common Core, AKA Florida Standards. However, in light of the Lee County vote to opt out of state mandated tests; the Florida Association of School Boards vote and tabling of a resolution against testing; and the decision of the Department of Education to halt the invasive, ineffective FAIR testing for grades K-2, the issue of testing will certainly be on the agenda.
While we believe that parents already have significant rights to opt their children out and that boards should inform their parents of those rights, The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition definitely supports the following language that has been or will be proposed:
  • Insure that parents can "opt-out" of state mandated high stakes testing without penalty to their children or schools;
NOTE: This language is offered by Bob Cerra, legislative liaison for Lee County as part of this resolution:
-Insure that parents can "opt-out" of state mandated high stakes testing without penalty to their children or schools;
-Reinstate 3.5 as a passing writing score on the state writing exams; and
-Bear all costs of district EOCs required as part of the state's teacher evaluation and teacher performance pay requirements to be paid by the state.

  • Lee County School Board Member Jeanne Dozier is also planning to offer the following language similar to her FSBA proposal:
Compel the state to adopt a comprehensive "Opt Out" policy that would allow parents to have their students to be excused, without penalty, from participating in statewide standardized or state required assessments and;
Compel the state to bring to an immediate halt the practice of using statewide standardized or state required assessment results for any purpose other than diagnostic purposes.
We also support the following language offered by both the Sarasota and Charlotte Boards having to do with returning sovereignty and local decision making to the duly elected Florida School Boards, particularly liking the Sarasota version offered by Caroline Zucker:
  • Preserve school board constitutional and home rule authority and oppose legislation that would subvert, bypass, or undermine that authority.
Here is what you can do:
  1. If you live in one of these districts, please contact the members of the following boards to voice your support for parental opt out of the tests and local decision making under the Florida Constitution:
2. If you are able to come, the meetings are public. They will be held in the Palm Beach School District headquarters at 3300 Forest Hill Blvd.  West Palm Beach, FL 33406. Here is the schedule:
Friday - 11:30 AM Rally and Press Conference led by several anti-Common Core groups. 
1 PM - 5 PM meeting of the consortium
Saturday - 9 AM - 11AM final legislative proposals to be decided
Please wear red and thank members for working to opt out of testing and re-establish local control and ask them to reject the standards and psychological testing as well. You may bring signs for the rally but will not be able to bring them into the meeting. There will be no public comment time as the agenda will be discussed at individual school boards. 

You may watch the meeting live HERE.

Alachua Kindergarten Teacher’s Brave Stand Stops Invasive FAIR Testing from K-2 September, 2014

The courageous efforts of twenty-six veteran Alachua teacher Susan Bowles to risk her job in order to protect her kindergarten students from the losing 6 weeks of precious instructional time taking a computerized test called the FAIR test (Florida Assessment of Instruction in Reading) have paid off.  Today, the superintendent received word from Commissioner Pam Stewart that the FAIR test would no longer be required in grades K-2 in the entire state.  While this is likely a political move to help the governor who is taking significant political heat over Common Core and testing, it is a welcome relief.

As reported by the Gainesville Sun last week, this test used to be given on paper, but now is given online requiring one on one help from the teacher that takes up to an hour per student. The paper inaccurately reported that the test was required "per state law, three times a year" in kindergarten through second grade. The truth is that all kindergarten students are required to be screened in the first thirty days of school. (F.S. 1002.69), but the FAIR test is not mentioned.  This is also contrary to statements made by Dr. Owen Roberts that by law, the FAIR test in particular must be used to screen kindergarten students in the first thirty days.

This issue received coverage by papers across the state including the Tampa Bay Times, the Sarasota Herald Tribune, and across the nation in the Washington Post.

Bowles had significant concerns about the FAIR in regard to the excessive number of tests and the lost instructional time.  However, this email by a reading specialist who requested anonymity and who used to administer the test brings up frightening concerns about the validity, developmental inappropriateness, data collection, data security, and indoctrination of older students with the reading passages:

The FAIR is administered without parental notification or controls. Children log on to the internet with a daily code. This is not a program aka software. This is an internet website. All answers are recorded in perpetuity. 
They all wear headsets - earbuds not allowed. The teachers know not what or how the children are responding....the test is computer adaptive. No two students are taking the same test. The answer to the previous question determines the selection the next question. The teacher is simply in the room to monitor technological aberrations. 
There is a letter to parents informing them of the assessment withi the system.. Few districts send them.
The test at the high school level is divided into three parts - comprehension, fluency, word analysis (real - spelling.) The fluency is timed. the reading comprehension is composed of a number of reading passages on a number of different subjects. The intent or persuasion is unknown to the teacher and the parents.
The results are reported in a print-out to monitor progress AKA "progress monitoring." Having witnessed the process for a number of years and as a certified reading specialist, the results are inaccurate and misleading. Many, many inconsistencies have been reported. Parents are confused and disillusioned, teachers are intimidated, and students are short-changed. Most teachers disregard the results as most are simply inaccurate, ludicrous and an impediment to realistic quality instruction.
The whole initiative/program is folly. However, perhaps most egregious, is the data mining (no one knows what is in those comprehension passages and how the children respond what they respond/what they're answers are the teachers/parents never see the test questions and the student responses) is pervasive and the ultimate objective is suspect. To what end? Are students being taught how to read? Or perhaps the objective is to teach students how to interpret what they read. 
Finally, the student is logged into the system via social security #. Responses that are recorded are aligned to social security number a very slippery slope. Are most parents even aware?!
I saw it all happen sheeple carry it out. As a professional, I objected to not fully informing parents and giving them the option to "opt out."  I was silenced.

This momentum against the tides of state and federal interference in education needs to continue to the point where districts choose their own standards and tests, accountable to the parents and duly elected school boards, not the state or federal governments.

Those of you in the Gainesville area can go to the September 16th Alachua County School Board meeting, wear red, and urge them to roll back the testing in the district, and inform parents of their legal opportunities to opt out of these tests and to control the standards and tests at the local level as provided in Article IX, Section 4b of the Florida Constitution:

Meeting at:   Kirby-Smith Center | 620 East University Avenue | Gainesville, FL 32601-5498 | 352-955-7300
Time : 6:00 PM



GOP Activist Couple Writes Scathing Letter to Governor Refusing to Vote for Him Unless He Changes on Common Core September, 2014

Despite what the consultants and mainstream media say, Governor Rick Scott still has major problems with his GOP base on Common Core that are perfectly summarized in this letter from long time activists and Republican supporters Tom and Carole Hayes. Tom Hayes is also the Acting State Coordinator for Florida of the Oak Initiative, an FSCCC partner.  We thank the Hayes for their courage and forthrightness over this crucial issue:


We have previously reported that the campaign is having a hard time recruiting volunteers. Given that fact, this letter, and the concern that is pouring in from activists around the state, we believe that the answer to cartoonist Andy Marlette's question, "Is Rick Scott scared of Common Core?" is a resounding "YES!" or it should be.  Please help us urge the governor to reject Common Core BEFORE the election! Contact him at:  (850) 717-9337 or by email.  Remind him that his opponent put Common Core into place and respectfully but firmly demand the following:
  1. HALT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMON CORE STANDARDS IMMEDIATELY AND REVERT TO THE PREVIOUS FLORIDA SUNSHINE STATE STANDARDS - If, as all the officials and proponents keep saying, that Common Core is so based on the previous standards, then this should not be a problem. A review commission in a year is only more "lipstick on a pig."
  2. CANCEL THE AIR CONTRACT - Protect our children from questions field tested in Utah, social engineering, psychological profiling, and data collection that this company is famous for and brags about on their website.

[9/11/14 CORRECTION - Tom Hayes is Acting State Coordinator for the state of Florida for the Oak Initiative not the President - we regret the error]


Testing Rebellion Moves to Florida School Boards Association, Across State and Nation September, 2014

The grave concern about excessive, invasive, ineffective and expensive testing did not stop with Lee County's vote to rescind its opt-out motion.  The anger is so strong that the Florida School Boards Association took up the issue at its September meeting. Although they had an intense discussion about opting out, they ultimately referred the motion to the legislative committee that will vote October 24th and then refer the motion back to the full board during the December meeting to work on more carefully crafting the language.  Here is the language that won approval before being tabled:

  • Adopt a comprehensive opt-out policy that would allow parents to have their students excused, without penalty, from statewide standardized or state-required assessments;
  • Bring an immediate halt to the practice of using statewide standardized or state-required assessment results for anything other than diagnostic purposes.
They also added a third element -  requiring the state to provide "a well-defined alternative pathway for students to demonstrate progress and proficiency."

Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star Banner quoted Marion County teacher's union describing the tests as punitive instead of diagnostic and harmful to younger students:
Chris Altobello, president of the local teachers' union, said parents statewide are now "finally understanding what teachers have been saying for a very long time."

"The tests were once diagnostic, but now they are punitive," Altobello said.

Altobello said student proficiency shouldn't hinge so much on these tests results, especially when it comes to the youngest students.

"Kindergartners should be blowing bubbles, not filling them in," he quipped on Monday.

Callahan also pointed out in his article that the movement against this testing is going nationwide as he quoted a new report from Lisa Guisbond of FairTest that showed:
  • At least four states -- Minnesota, South Carolina, Alaska and Rhode Island -- have repealed or delayed graduation testing requirements.
  • Many other jurisdictions, including Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina and New York City, rolled back the number of required exams or reduced their impact.
  • Common Core testing consequences were postponed in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
  • High-profile protests including opt-out campaigns, test boycotts, resolutions and other actions took place from Seattle to Providence and from Chicago to southwest Florida.
  • Ten more colleges and universities have adopted test-optional admissions.
  • Public opinion polls, such as a recent PDK/Gallup survey, "show a majority of Americans agree that standardized tests do not help improve learning and teaching."
Perhaps this news, coupled with Lee County's vote, and now the FSBA will create enough momentum to overcome even the Jeb Bush/Pearson /AIR efforts that stifle individuality and creativity in the classroom via all of these ridiculous tests and sell our children's future and privacy to corporations and the government for "30 pieces of silver."

Miami Herald Highlights Scott's Continued Political Problems with Common Core & Lee County - Mentions Randy Osborne September, 2014

In a story also published by the Tampa Bay Times and summarized by NewsMax, The Miami Herald's political reporter Kathleen McGrory highlighted the problems that Governor Scott continues to have about Common Core and the state's bullying tactics forcing Lee County to rescind their historic vote to opt out of testing.

McGrory perpetuates the myth that only Tea Party members oppose the standards, tests, and data collection that  is Common Core, leaving out teachers, administrators, school board members, and even moderate business people mentioned in the Gallup poll she references and who are the people that Scott is supposedly courting for votes. She portrays the governor's dilemma and the rising tsunami of opposition this way:

To win on Nov. 4, Scott must rally an active and vocal part of his base: tea party members who want to eviscerate the new standards. But he's also vying for votes from moderate Republicans who support the Common Core standards. And he's keenly aware that former Gov. Jeb Bush has been a powerful driving force behind the standards' success...
...A Gallup Poll released Aug. 20 found that 59 percent of Americans oppose the use of Common Core standards. Of the Republicans surveyed, 76 percent said they objected to the new benchmarks.
Scott's campaign has taken note.

In recent weeks, Scott's top education adviser Kim MacDougal, who is on leave to work with the campaign, has met with Common Core opponents to address their lingering concerns. What's more, Scott called for a review of the standards as part of a larger education plan that boosts per-student spending to a record high of $7,176 and increases spending on classroom technology.

The issue boiled over in Lee County in late August, when Common Core critics persuaded the school board to approve a moratorium on the tests associated with the standards. The school board reversed its decision last week, citing concerns that their district would lose its state funding. But opponents took advantage of the opportunity to increase the pressure on Scott.

During a public meeting, Lee County School Board Chairman Thomas Scott (no relation to the governor) said Florida needed a leader "who had enough courage" to reject the standards.
The governor keeps repeating his hollow talking points that he opposes federal intrusion, while doing nothing about it:

When asked his position on the benchmarks on Thursday, Scott repeated talking points that he and others were "tired of federal government overreach."

"What Florida wants to do is we have our own standards," Scott said. "We've told the federal government they're not going to dictate how we run our education system. And that's what we're going to continue to do."

Randy Osborne of FSCCC and Eagle Forum succinctly explained the fundamental problem for Rick Scott:

Randy Osborne, a member of the Florida Eagle Forum and the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said he and others are pressing Scott to take action before the election.

"This issue could really hurt him," Osborne said. "If he can't get his base out, he can't win."

Reports are coming in that the governor's campaign is having a very hard time recruiting volunteers to make phone calls and knock on doors.  Common Core may not be the only reason, but it is a very important one.  Time is running out.


Lee County Rescinds Vote to Opt Out of Testing - Media Coverage September, 2014

As we shared in our previous alert and our announcement of the analysis of the misleading legal memo, Lee County Board member Mary Fischer rescinded her vote after being either bullied or mislead about the alleged dire consequences. The entire meeting video is available HERE. Sixty speople spoke in public comments, the maximum allowed by board policy.  It was well over 2:1 against rescinding the vote.  There were many excellent speakers.  Dr. Effrem covered the problems with the legal memo that caused such panic starting at 43:11.

Here is other coverage of the joint FSCCC and Florida Citizens' Alliance press conference and the board meeting:

Photo Credit Florida News Press WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

While it is unclear why they couldn't have taken time to develop their plan before they rescinded the vote at an "emergency" meeting at 8:30 AM the day after Labor Day, all five board members, including the ones that voted to rescind say they are going to do "something" about excessive standardized testing. Time will tell what exactly that will be, and whether it will be real action, or mere political rhetoric, deflection, and delay.  In her closing comments after the vote, Vice chairwoman, Cathleen Morgan, a strong supporter of national standards and tests condescendingly chastised Chairman Tom Scott and Don Armstrong for their opt vote last week.  She also said that they had performed a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Nancy Graham and board attorney Keith Martin.  We would submit that it was Graham and Martin by their undermining of the board vote in public, with teachers and parents and the misleading legal memo, were the ones who voted no confidence in the board for whom they work.   We will be keeping a close eye on developments in Lee County.

FSCCC Releases Point by Point Response to Legal Memo Used to Bully Lee Board & Deceive Public September, 2014

The legal memo by Lee County School Board attorney Keith Martin was the basis for creating so much hysteria and panic about the consequences for the county opting out of state tests, that Board Member Fischer panicked and called for an emergency meeting to rescind her vote without really looking at the alternatives already provided in statute. Sadly, the memo did not mention any of these alternatives and was therefore highly misleading and deceptive.  Even more sad, is the possibility that other Florida school boards will refrain from exercizing their rights based on incorrect or incomplete information such as this.

Dr. Karen Effrem has produced a point-by-point refutation of that memo that is now available for review.  Here are the summary points:

  1. Graduation Issues Alternatives to the federally and state mandated tests and end of course exams already exist in statute that would legally allow graduation with a standard diploma.
  2. Course Credits Involving End of Course Exams There are also alternatives listed in statute that allow students or the county to opt out of these exams as well and still receive the credit in courses where 30% of the grade is based on these exams.
  3. Third Grade Retention - Florida statute and State Board of Education rule allow third grade students to submit a portfolio or take alternative assessments to avoid mandatory retention.
  4. Opportunity Scholarships These are based on the school grading system which in turn is based on the state tests, for which there exist alternatives.  Additionally, with the school grading system in chaos with severe questions about its validity and reliability, the assessments not being counted toward school grades for at least another year and the Florida School Boards Association asking for longer, and very few schools in Lee County meeting the qualifications outlined in statute to qualify for their students to receive opportunity scholarships, a reasonable alternative could easily be developed in policy, rule or legislation.
  5. Special Education Funding Alternative assessment possibilities exist in both federal and state statute.
  6. Effects on Teachers and Principals The same alternatives available in statute and the same problems with the school grading system described above for students answer the concerns for employees
  7. Federal No Child Left Behind Funding & Waivers Besides being a major violation of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; provisions of both No Child Left Behind and the waivers are selectively and arbitrarily enforced, the conditional waivers are illegal and the incentivizing of Common Core and the federal assessments through the waivers and Race to the Top are in violation of three federal statutes.
  8. State Funding It is not very likely that elected legislators who face constituents seeking relief from the out-of-control testing will sanction other elected officials who are following the Constitutions and listening to their constituents if the appointed State Board refers incomplete and biased information to the legislature about non-compliance.  There are legal, constitutional and political reasons why the State Board of Education would be in error for withholding money from Lee County or any other district that asserts their local autonomy and listens to their constituents.
  9. Constitutional and Statutory Violations of Current Testing System These are outlined in our paper, Constitutional and Statutory Violations of Current State and Federally Mandated Student Assessment Program.  These include violations of the Fourth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution and Article IX, Section 4(b) of the Florida Constitution; violation of the federal General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Department of Education Organization Act, all of which violate state and local control of educational programs; and violation of Florida statutes regarding implementation of the testing system, technological load testing, and prohibition on practicing psychology or school psychology without a license.
The entire document is available HERE.  Please show this to your own school board members and legislators and tell them that despite today's vote to rescind, there is still very good reason to consider opting out.


URGENT ALERT - Come to Fort Meyers to Help the Lee County School Board Stand Strong Against Tyranny September, 2014

Please help Lee County stand against the jackbooted thuggery of the state & federal governments! Because of the long list of threatened consequences, many of which are not constitutional and some of which are inaccurate, for opting out, board member Mary Fischer, who was the most undecided in the vote to opt out of state testing has asked the superintendent to call a meeting for Tuesday 9/2 at 8:30 AM.  It appears that this meeting was intentionally scheduled by the superintendent at a time after a holiday weekend and in the morning when it will be very difficult for teachers and parents to attend.  Fischer plans to offer a motion to rescind the courageous and historic vote of 8/27.  We must be there to support the board and to show the Establishment that this behavior from Tallahassee, Washington and the corporate bullies is unacceptable.This is a very big ask but if you can be there to speak during the public comment time, rally, and or show support, this would be an important time to do so. Here are the details:

Tuesday September 2nd
Rally - 7:30
Press Conference - 7:45 AM
Board Meeting - 8:30 AM
District Board Headquarters
2855 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33966


If you cannot come, it is CRITICAL that you email the board members and thank the three that voted yes and tell all of them how important it is to stand to protect our children from the invasive, unhelpful, unconstitutional, and expensive state and federal testing mandates. Please respectfully focus on Mary Fischer to support and encourage her to stand strong as well as Jeanne Dozier to change her mind. Please urge Cathleen Morgan to quit parrotting the Establishment line by supporting the one-size-fits-all, invasive and ineffective standards, tests and data collection system  Here are the email addresses: (Superintendent Nancy Graham who is publicly undermining the board's vote) (Mary Fischer - voted yes and now wants to rescind) (Jeanne Dozier - voted no) (Cathleen Morgan - voted no) (Don Armstrong - voted yes) (Chairman Tom Scott - Offered motion & voted yes)

Dr. Effrem has written two major policy papers showing both the deceptive and incomplete nature of the legal memo being used to scare and pressure the board members as well as the illegal and unconstiutional nature of the currents testing program for you to give to your board members in order to urge them to find a way to stop the testing madness:


If you have any questions, please call us at 888-376-5550.

FSCCC Releases Major Policy & Legal Analysis of Florida's Out of Control Mandated Testing System August, 2014

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition announces a new policy analysis outlining the major state and federal statutory and constitutional flaws with Florida's current federally mandated state standardized testing program.  Written by FSCCC executive director Dr. Karen Effrem who has fifteen years experience analyzing and drafting state and federal education legislation, this analysis covers the following areas:

1) The violation of the Florida Constitution, Article IX, Section 4 b that gives local school boards the control over what happens in schools in their own districts

2) Violations of state statute requiring adequate funding, field and baseline data, and district readiness to give the assessment online, as well as independent technology and capacity load testing of the computer systems before districts can give the tests online, and the statute prohibiting the practice of psychology or school psychology without a license in the process of tests' psychological profiling of our children

3) Violations of the Tenth Amendment covering state sovereignty and the Fourth Amendment dealing with privacy of the US Constitution

4) Violation of three different federal laws having to prohibiting federal interference in state and local education programs and the illegality of requiring compliance with conditional waivers in federal law which Secretary Arne Duncan is arbitrarily enforcing.

The analysis, Constitutional and Statutory Violations of Current State and Federally Mandated Student Assessment Program, is available by clicking HERE.


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.


Local School Board Candidate Information and Endorsements from Activists August, 2014

The following are recommendations or endorsements from activists taken from various Facebook pages with some FSCCC comments:

ALACHUA COUNTY - Information from activists

School Board District 3:
Gunner Paulson............. against (high stakes testing)
Philorons Wright............for (with more training of educators)

School Board District 5:
Rob Hyatt ............ against (completely)
Jancie Vinson...... against (completely)

COLLIER COUNTY - Endorsement from 92.5 Fox News Radio Host and Stop Common Core Champion Drew Steele
Kelly Lichter has also been actively working against Common Core before running for school board (FSCCC comment)
Erika Donalds has been a tireless worker against Common Core, heading up the effort for FSCCC partner Southwest Florida Citizens' Alliance before running for this position.  She is also endorsed by the Naples Daily News. (FSCCC comment)

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY - Information from Stop Common Core - Hillsborough County FL
District 2 
Michael Weston is mentioned by the activists and has been actively working against Common Core for over one year as president of the Florida chapter of the Badass Teachers (BATs), who vehemently opposes Common Core (FSCCC comment)

District 4 -
Terry Kemple  is head of FSCCC partner Community Issues Council and has been actively working against Common Core for at least as long as this organization has been in existence (FSCCC Comment)

District 6
Dipah Shah has been consistently opposed - "Common core must be removed from our schools. I do not support Common Core/Florida Standards. The standards are touted to be more rigorous; however as a parent of two children in the Public Schools, I feel the curriculum is less rigororous. The teachers are penalized if the students do not score well on the standardized tests; as a result the CCSS encourage teaching to the test and not teaching to the fullest potential of the students. Teachers have earned degrees and certifications to teach, by having structured curriculum the creativity and art of teaching is discouraged."

Alison McGillivray Fernandez is now opposed: "Initially I thought that the premise was good and would result in an approach that would benefit students, much the way IB programs have been for some students. However, the more research that I have done, the more I realize that common core as implemented by Florida will not improve education. I do not think that tweaking will work"
LEE COUNTY - Endorsements from Drew Steele
LEE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD D4- DON ARMSTRONG (This incumbent publicly opted his children out of standardized testing - FSCCC).


Palm Beach County School Board Seeks to Opt Out of Testing Following Lee County's Example August, 2014

Kudos to the Palm Beach County School Board who, following in the steps of Lee County, seeks to investigate and strongly consider opting their entire county out of the state's standardized testing regime.  One board member made a particularly important point that while it is great the schools geta reprieve, the students and teachers do not. It is encouraging to see local school boards beginning to assert their sovereignty in this way.

Opting out of testing is one important step, because it protects a child from the data collection and pscyhological profiling that is part of the testing scheme.  It does not protect them, however, from the indoctrination and psychological manipulation that is an inherent part of the standards as admitted by numerous experts and groups:

Here is the video:

Scott's Latest Attempt to Mollify Common Core Critics - A Review Commission August, 2014

According to an article by Gary Fineout of the Associated Press, Governor Rick Scott's latest attempt to quell the rapidly growing rebellion to Common Core and the standards' deceptive re-brand as the Florida Standards will be to announce later today the convening of an "independent committee" to review the standards and potentially make more changes to them.  The governor also wants to have the committee conduct "thorough and comprehensive investigation" about the standardized tests.

Apparently, one large sham exercise where they pretended to care what the people thought was not enough; even though the commissioner, two high education officials, Speaker Weatherford and recently Jeb Bush all admitted were not going to be or were not substantial changes, fooling no one..  Now they are going to go through this song and dance with a panel of experts to do another re-brand like Indiana did that will likely change nothing.

Fineout described the process this way in this article

Last year Scott called for public hearings into the benchmark standards in writing, reading and math that were the result of an initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. State education officials tweaked the standards, including adding a requirement for cursive writing. Then during the spring legislators adopted new laws that officially removed the words "Common Core" from state statutes. In response to fears from activists, the state also changed laws regarding textbook reviews and banned districts from collecting biometric data from students.

Scott has insisted this means Common Core is "out" of Florida schools but activists have refused to drop their campaign against the standards. Meanwhile, other Republican governors have pushed to jettison the standards in recent months and school board races and legislative races around the state have featured candidates announcing their opposition to Common Core. Amid this uproar the Scott campaign quietly dispatched a top aide this summer to explain to GOP groups what steps the state had taken. That, however, has also not quieted the criticism.

The answer to Fineout's questions about whether the governor "Still Has a Common Core Problem" is a resounding YES!  That large problem will not be solved by more maneuvering or deception. This will NOT relieve the terrible burden of poor academics, indoctrination, and loss of privacy, parental, and local control. Governor Scott needs to either use his executive authority or call for the legislature to pass a true repeal bill as was done in Oklahoma and as Scott Walker called for in Wisconsin.  One way or another, the standards and tests should be rejected.  Ultimately, we need to return to local decision making  for both, but truly Florida developed standards and tests would be a welcome start, along with a prohibition on psychological testing, real data protection that doesn't rely on the gutted federal law, and true local choices in curriculum.  This is more lipstick on a pig that will continue to be problematic for the governor and other politicians that continue to deceive the people.


ALERT! Sign the Test Opt Out Petition & Attend the Lee County School Board Meeting 8/27 August, 2014

The movement to opt out of the Common Core aligned AIR tests are gathering tsunami-like force.  These data gathering, psychologically invasive, controversial and expensive tests are being particularly opposed in Lee County.  We recently reported that school board member Don Armstrong publicly declared that he was opting his own children out of the tests at a school board meeting.  The board has since agreed to investigate the possibility of opting the ENTIRE district out of the testing as discussed in this Naples Daily News report:

Board members unanimously expressed their disdain for standardized testing at the school board meeting Tuesday, pledging to research the possibility of "opting out" the entire district from standardized testing.

"There needs to be a come-to-Jesus meeting ... to talk about these issues point blank," Chairman Tom Scott said.
Board member Don Armstrong said the district cannot afford to continue testing at the current rate.

"A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won't say names," he said. "But on this board or not on this board, I won't stand for it anymore."

Dozier asked the board to vote to "opt out" the entire district from testing. Some school districts have done this in Texas, but none in Florida.

"Why can't we be the first?" Dozier asked, prompting an applause in the audience.

Board members Mary Fischer and Cathleen Morgan voiced similar concerns.

"State assessments have been designed for kids to fail," Fischer said. "I've worked in school since 1960. Just follow the money, look it up on the Internet, it's about people making billions of dollars.

According to this report by WINK News,  "Superintendent Nancy Graham said the board should carefully research all the consequences opting out could cause. Right now, the board attorney says there are no penalties written into current law."

Board Chairman Tom Scott stated the obvious that it is very important for the public to be involved. It is critical that Lee County residents sign this PETITION and to come to the school board meeting  on August 27th where the board will actually vote on this policy. Here are the details:

6pm at the District Board Headquarters
2855 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33966
Phone: (239) 337-8303 or (239) 337-8304

It is also extremely important for EVERYONE to attend this FREE WEBINAR r to be led by former Estero assistant principal Kathleen Jasper of and We Will Not Conform at  Thank you!

New Gallup Poll - Common Core Support Continues to Decline as People Learn More & Better PR Won't Help August, 2014

In a new poll released August 20th, the highly respected Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa organizations found in their annual education poll that people oppose Common Core more as they learn more about it and that distrust of the federal role in education is growing. Here are some of the key findings (Emphasis added in bold italics):

  • Last year, almost two-thirds of Americans (62%) had never heard of the Common Core State Standards. Fast-forward to 2014, when asked how much they have heard about the Common Core, most Americans (81%) say they have heard at least a little, and nearly half (47%) said they have heard a great deal or a fair amount about it.
  • 60% of Americans oppose requiring teachers in their community to use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach, with opposition among Republicans much higher than Democrats.
  • For the 33% of Americans who favor the Common Core, the most important reason is because it will help more students learn what they need to know regardless of where they go to school.
  • For the 60% of Americans who oppose using the Common Core, their most important reason is that it will limit the flexibility that teachers have to teach what they think is best.
  • While most educators believe the new standards are challenging, 40% of Americans disagree, saying the Common Core State Standards are not challenging enough.
As in the Politico article showing that parents are winning the messaging war that featured FSCCC describing these efforts as "lipstick on a pig," the proponents think that more and better communication will turn things around. Unfortunately, Phi Delta Kappa who supports the standards put forth all sorts of spin and ridiculously untrue rhetoric, such as the following (our response is in italics below each point):

Dismissing American public opinion as uninformed is not an option, and astute policy makers understand this.

Yet, until recently, this is exactly what Common Core proponents have done, calling us "whackos and crazies," liars, conspiracy theorists, tin hatters, etc.
As difficult as it is to make policy, implementing it is much harder, particularly when a majority of Americans don't support the policy in question...

Perhaps that is their clue, that they should stop fighting us, especially using tax-funded propaganda campaigns or rebranding the standards as here in Florida and hoping American parents will be fooled.

To address higher achievement and greater equity, the United States needs standards of excellence, and there is wide agreement that the Common Core State Standards offer these standards.

There may be agreement among government and business elites that want to impose the standards despite lack of field testing or public vetting, and over state legislative, local school board and parental objection.  However, as this poll and many others we have highlighted (HERE and HERE) have shown, there is not wide agreement on the quality or rigor of the standards or the process by which they were imposed.
In this case, modifying policy is not a solution. We can't return to an American system of public education based on 50 sets of education standards.

There have only been statewide standards as the result of an unconstitutional federal mandate since 1994 and according to both national statistics and expert opinion, these have done nothing to improve academic achievement or close achievement gaps.  International data shows that having national standards makes little difference the U.S. does both better and worse than countries that have national standards.
Working together, education professionals through their associations, along with business and political leaders can work together to mount a nonpartisan communications campaign explaining to Americans why the Common Core State Standards are essential to the nation's future and to the success of all children.  Public support for the standards is declining -- we need to fight for these standards since we are losing in the court of public opinion.

Apparently Phi Delta Kappa has not figured out that the millions of dollars spent by both the government and the business/foundation elite attempting to convince the public of the above has been an utter failure as demonstrated by all of this polling data.  Another example is the huge flop that was the proponents' attempt at a Twitter campaign in support of the standards as chronicled by Breitbart News. The organized campaign was taken over by passionate parents who responded to the tweets using the proponent's own hashtag #SupporttheCore. This resulted major Common Core apologist Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute to resort to toddler-like whining to US News about being "bullied." Here is Petrill's tweet and a response by FSCCC

We agree with Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute who characterized the vain hope that better PR will fix the crumbling support of the standards as patronizing and correctly satirized the proponents' statements about correcting course and more PR as follows:
  1. It's tricky when we're so obviously right.
  2. You see, we really want to respect our opponents, but it's hard when they're such obvious nitwits.
  3. The fact that they're such nitwits has suckered us into just coolly sharing the evidence of our overwhelming rightness.
  4. The problem is that all this evidence is too far over everyone's heads, because they're just not as sophisticated as we are.
  5. So, we've decided we need to offer more sugar, candy, circuses, and heart-tugging appeals in order to really win this thing.
  6. We'd thought push-polling and long-retired Republican governors would suffice, but now we've decided we need a national campaign of cute, smiling kids saying, "I WUV the Common Core!"
This continued arrogance and patronization by the elites would be laughable if it were not for the suffering caused to children, parents, teachers, and taxpayers under Common Core.  Proponents could save everyone a lot of time, money and heartache by realizing that this system is another boondoggle headed for the ash heap of education history that cannot be fixed by more and better  communication.

Jeb Bush Continues FL Common Core Deception & Contradicts Himself While Campaigning for Scott August, 2014

As tweeted by John O'Connor of State Impact Florida, former Governor Jeb Bush joined in perpetrating the completely false notion that Common Core is out of the state of Florida:


Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week's State EdWatch blog and FSCCC entered the conversation:

Then O'Connor tweeted Bush as saying:

FSCCC then responded:

O'Connor later retweeted the second tweet and wrote the following in an article:

Eventually, the state added calculus, tweaked a few other things and renamed them the Florida Standards. But, the changes left Common Core largely untouched.

As he has in the past, Bush said Friday he supports the alterations. But Bush conceded not much changed about the standards besides the name.

"They're not substantially different, but they're Florida-based," Bush said, "after listening to a whole lot of people express concerns and support.

This kind of continued blatant, "in your face" deception and contradiction will do neither Scott's current gubernatorial nor Bush's potential presidential campaign any good.  It will only give people more reason to continue use of the Twitter hashtag #StopJebNow and ramp up the already massive resistance to Common Core and the politicians that support it, 

Dreikorn Shows Striking Contrast Over Benacquisto on Common Core August, 2014

Drew Steele, host of the 92.5 Fox News Daybreak Show, interviewed both incumbent District 30 Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and challenger Dr. Michael Dreikorn as the August 26th primary approaches.  This is a re-match of the congressional primary in April that Curt Clawson went on to win over Benacquisto, Dr. Paige Kreegel, and Dreikorn.

Although multiple topics were covered, the contrast on Common Core was striking.  Dreikorn (listen to the beginning of the podcast and also at about 10:06) clearly and unequivocally supports the full repeal of Common Core and calls out Benacquisto's sponsorship of SB 1076, the Common Core implementation bill.  We would add that despite co-sponsoring the senate version of the Common Core pause bill, she did not work to get the bill heard despite being majority leader.  Drew also mentioned that there was not a single hearing on any bill to pause or repeal the standards.  Dreikorn said,

"If you want Common Core to remain the law in Florida, then do nothing.  If you want to repeal Common Core, then vote for me.  I am telling you, the incumbent was the co-sponsor of Common Core. Now, what we can do, we can do it in one legislative session.  We can write a bill that throws it out completely.  We can put that kind of coalition together of like-minded conservatives, of like-minded Americans."

When Drew Steele asked Benacquisto about her position on Common Core (listen starting at 8:40), he asked her, "...are you comfortable with 1076 and what it has left behind, do you feel like, because of it, Common Core is officially out of the state of Florida right now at this time?"  Instead of answering yes or no, she sidestepped the question by thanking Drew for his work on this issue, and said:

"I think there is still more work to be done, and I want all this passion and energy and advocacy for our children to be in a scenario where we all work together to effectuate good change, because, again, I do feel there is more work to be done."

There was no talk of what that work meant, be it repealing the standards, cancelling the contract with AIR that will be psychologically profiling our children, truly protecting our children's data, opting out of the federal mandates or anything else. 

This contrast was highlighted by the Southwest Florida Citizen's Alliance, an FSCCC partner, who said the following about the two candidates:
State Senator District 30
Lizbeth Benacquisto
  • Flip-flopped on Common Core: voted for it now claims to oppose it.
  • Arranged to have Rep. Eagle pull the 2nd Amendment Preservation Bill
  • Well known for mud-slinging campaign tactics
  • Has repeatedly demonstrated that she puts party leadership wishes above her Constituents and the Constitution through back room deals
Michael J. Dreikorn
  • Decisively opposed to Common Core
  • Solid answers on our US Constitution survey
  • Veteran
  • Well prepared on the issues
  • Successful executive and small business owner
  • Constitutional conservative
FSCCC urges people in District 30 to do their homework and vote on August 26th.

Challenger Miller Supports Parental Rights While Incumbent Altman Supports National Standards in SD 16 August, 2014

In a recent state senate candidate forum in District 16 (Indian River area), incumbent Senator Thad Altman and challenger Monique Miller were asked a question about Common Core that showcased two very different perspectives on the role of education in our society. 

When Miller was asked about Common Core, she said that the biggest problem with the system was that parents' fundamental right to direct the education of their children was being infringed upon by the standards, tests, and data collection system. 

Although Altman gave lip service to local control, his response still prioritized national standards, saying that they were needed "to provide those basic skills."  That is a frank slap in the face to the schools and teachers in his district and in Florida, because he is saying that the local schools are incapable of providing even the basic skills. 

Our nation has had locally developed standards and therefore locally developed curriculum for its entire history until 1994 when federal legislation required statewide standards.  That has done nothing to improve education and frankly has made it worse.  Taking the standards national will further deepen the problems.  When in history has nationalizing anything improved a situation?

Altman is either unaware or hiding the fact that national standards and local control of education are completely mutually exclusive.  One cannot have both.  States and districts are already learning the extent of the loss of their control over standards, tests, and curriculum.  Hopefully, people will assert their rights as parents and citizens to direct the education of their children and control education at the local level.

[You must click on the video itself to watch on You Tube. The ability to watch on other sites has been disabled.  The Common Core question begins at 12:25]

Michelle Malkin & Dana Loesch Endorse Jorge Bonilla in CD 9 with Malkin Linking to FSCCC Analysis August, 2014

At a pivotal point in the hotly contested 3-way Republican August 26th primary in congressional district 9, conservattive and anti-Common Core heroines Michelle Malkin and Dana Loesch who both had prominent roles in We Will Not Conform, have endorsed U.S. Navy veteran Jorge Bonilla for the right to take on Rep. Allen Grayson in November.  Both of these highly influential pundits backed Bonilla by highlighting his service, family ties, and especially his consistent and constitutionally grounded positions. They also both called out the malevolent establishment influence of Jeb Bush. 

In addition, Michelle Malkin specifically pointed out Bonilla's articulate stance against Common Core.  She pointed out his plan to defund and repeal the intrusive federal program.  She graciously linked to our article Jeb Bush Endorsed Congressional Candidate Woefullly Ignorant of Constitution & Federal Role in Education to contrast Bonilla to his Bush endorsed, pro-Common Core rival Carol Platt:

Jorge Bonilla is a friend, longtime blogger, conservative activist, and devoted father of two who is running in Florida's 9th district. Yep, that's Looney Tunes Alan Grayson's district. Bonilla's main primary competition is a Jeb Bush-backed, soft-on-Common Core Republican with Fed Ed proclivities. Bonilla is the only consistent and clear candidate in the field who opposes amnesty -- and not in a mealy-mouthed Rubio-esque way -- as well as defunding and repealing Common Core. Boot Grayson. Back Bonilla.

Dana Loesch used part of her endorsement of Bonilla to point out that Jeb Bush, besides endorsing Bonilla's establishment rival, Platt, also was behind the redistricting shanigans involved in Allen West's 2012 loss (West is also strongly anti-Common Core):

I was introduced to Jorge Bonilla by our mutual friend and conservative citizen journalist, Javier Manjarres. Since that time I've known him to be a devoted family man and stalwart grassroots fighter unafraid to take on Florida's notorious Jeb Bush-dominated establishment. (It's no surprise that the same Bush machine that took out Allen West is floating a primary candidate to stop Bonilla.) We need more fearless, constitutional conservatives in elected office. Please consider Jorge Bonilla as that public servant and send him to take on Alan Grayson in the general.

It is critical during both the primaries and the general for each of us to do our due diligence and find candidates at every level that are steadfast, principled, and informed opponents of Common Core and that we support them however it is in our power to do so.


Lee County School Board Member Decision to Opt His Own Children Out of Standardized Tests Inspiring Thousands August, 2014

Lee County, Florida school board member Don Armstrong plans to opt his twin fourth grade children out of the Florida Common Core Assessments as a way to fight against Common Core or as it is deceptively now called here, the Florida Standards.  Here is a news story discussing Armstrong's decision:


In addition to all of the many reasons that we have chronicled about the controversial tests, such as their psychological profiling and emphasis on controversial issues, and the data mining, Armstrong does not believe that one test is an accurate measure of what his children have learned for an entire year.  According to NBC 2, over 1000 people discussed the story on their Facebook page and many are planning to follow Armstrong's example: WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Armstrong, the reporter, Kathleen Jasper of on Glenn Beck's We Will Not Conform event, as well as Charlotte County school board member Lee Swift at a candidate forum on July 30 have all declared that this step is legal.  Jasper plans to host a free webinar to train parents in how to opt their children out.  As Professor Sandra Stotsky and others have declared, boycotting these tests is a way to stop the flow of personal data on our children to the government and corporations.  It will not stop the psychological manipulation and indoctrination inherent in the standards and the aligned curriculum. For that, we must continue to fight the unconstitutional interference of the federal government imposition of the Common Core as part of Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind Waivers, the imposition by the appointed State Board without input from parents, elected school boards, legislators, and the charade of name changes and minor tweaks that have given us the lipstick on a pig "Florida Standards." 

The battle continues, but as evidenced by the Politico story last week and others, we are winning.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  Please take heart, keep up the great work and continue your wonderful support by clicking on the Paypal button on our home page!

Even Gates-Funded Education Week Calls Florida Efforts "Repeal-Lite" July, 2014

Perhaps now that even the Gates-funded, pro Common Core propaganda organ EdWeek describes Florida's standards changes as "Repeal Lite," the officials in the Legislature and Governor Scott's administration will quit trying to insult the intelligence of and deceive the public about the state being "on a different path" and the "Florida Standards" being different than Common Core.  Here is what they said about Florida's efforts:

'Repeal Lite' Strategy Seen

Florida, where state lawmakers rebuffed legislation to put the brakes on the common core, could end up being an archetype for states moving to re-examine the standards rather than repeal them outright.

After soliciting public input on where the common core in Florida should be changed, the state school board adopted some alterations to the standards in March. But officials did not dump or vastly change the common core. (Adoption guidelines for the standards said that states can supplement the common core with their own specific standards, up to an additional 15 percent worth of standards.)

Cato's Neal McCluskey takes apart the weak defense of the standards in light of so much opposition by proponent Chris Minnich of the Council of Chief State School Officers:

Some opponents of the common standards say their real concern is not primarily what's in them, but whether states now make decisions that aren't tainted, in critics' view, by pro-common-core financial incentives offered by the federal government in the Obama administration's Race to the Top grant competitions and waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. To that extent, the opponents see marked progress.

"If a state really thinks common core is the best thing to do, then they should adopt it. I don't want them to adopt it because they want to get federal money, or want to get a federal waiver," said Neal McCluskey, the associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

Mr. McCluskey said Mr. Minnich's espousal of a general push for higher standards is, in fact, an implicit concession that the common core is taking more hits than supporters anticipated it would a few years ago.

And Mr. McCluskey said that he expects opposition to the common core to continue, and to spike at the start of 2015, when many state legislatures start new sessions.

Bottom line: Common Core is in real trouble and momentum is building against it, despite the well-funded lobbying and PR blitz and no amount of "lipstick on a pig" can help them.

Parents are Winning! Politico Interviews FSCCC about Common Core PR War July, 2014

Although there are definitely many more problems with Common Core than its PR (propaganda) efforts, Politico reporter Stephanie Simon did a story about the messaging battles of Common Core and describes the abject failure of the advocates to win over the people.  While we agree with Shane Vander Hart at Truth in American Education that it is not just how Common Core is messaged that is the problem, it is pretty wonderful to see that despite the millions and millions of dollars spent on Common Core, its tests, and yes, the public relations efforts, the more people, especially parents know, the more they oppose it.

Dr. Effrem was interviewed for this story and stated that no amount of PR can fix the problems with Common Core:

The looming PR blitz doesn't worry Common Core opponents.

"The phrase we use a lot down here in our messaging is 'putting lipstick on a pig,'" said Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. "You can't make something that's so bad look good."

Even the proponents don't believe the idea that more or better PR will help:

"There wasn't a good job of messaging this early on, and I'm not sure those deficits can be addressed," said Daniel Lautzenheiser, an education analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. Even a fresh approach, he said, might not be enough to "stem the tide of opposition."

No amount of money can cover up how academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative these standards are.  The PR efforts to do so, as well as the deceptive efforts to portray Florida as being out of Common Core are truly "putting lipstick on a pig:

Nor will parents tolerate their children being used as guinea pigs:

Call Governor Scott at (850) 717-9337 or email him and urge him to truly pull Florida out of Common Core and cancel the AIR contract.


Florida Eagle Forum Endorses Dreikorn over Benacquisto July, 2014

Florida Eagle Forum has endorsed Dr. Michael Dreikorn in the District 30 Florida Senate primary against Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto in part due to the Common Core issue. Here is the full statement:

Florida Eagle Forum is excited to have a conservative choice for State Senate in district 30 in the Republican primary.

After carefully reviewing the history and positions of both candidates on many issues, we firmly believe that Dr. Dreikorn is the only candidate who aligns with our organization on important issues like the federal takeover of our state education system (Common Core), the federal takeover of our healthcare system (Obamacare), and the federal government unconstitutionally implementing enforcement of laws through the IRS. We believe that Dr. Dreikorn not only understands these dangers, but also is the only candidate with a viable, common sense plan to stop these abuses.

As a retired corporate business executive, Dr. Dreikorn has the experience we need to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability back to our state government. His experience in dealing firsthand with the effect of taxes on our economy will be a refreshing change from the politics as usual we are now facing in Tallahassee. And as a former veteran, Michael has a much needed direct, no nonsense approach to the right to bear arms and the treatment of those who have served our country through the military.

Therefore, Florida Eagle Forum is proud to endorse Dr. Michael Dreikorn as our next District 30 State Senator.

Florida Plays Prominent Role in We Will Not Conform Event July, 2014

Anti-Common Core activist parents, grandparents, teachers and concerned citizens packed at least 700 theaters across the nation last night to learn about the controversial standards, tests and data collection system and what they could do to stop it.  Glen Beck's We Will Not Conform event provided many ways to fight the behemoth on several fronts.  Beck, pundit and author Michelle Malkin, and historian David Barton led the discussion with activists and experts.

Former Estero, Florida assistant principal Kathleen Jasper who quit her job to fight Common Core was a prominent speaker on the panel.  Randy Osborne of Florida Eagle Forum and FSCCC was in the audience. Florida had the most people in theaters of any state in the nation.

"When you start screwing with our children, we all unite on that," Beck said during the broadcast. And Michelle Malkin said, "Our kids are not anybody else's guinea pigs."

Allison Neilsen of Sunshine State News interviewed Florida Rep. Debbie Mayfield and FSCCC executive director Dr. Karen Effrem:

Dr. Karen Effrem, president and co-founder of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, told Sunshine State News she hoped the event would help those frustrated with Common Core realize they're not alone.  

"We think this can be a great positive in expanding this coalition as people from all viewpoints realize what a dangerous, ineffective, and expensive system this is and we work toward developing a major action plan," said Effrem.

Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, who has been one of the most vocal state legislators against Common Core, tuned into the broadcast and called yet again for the standards to be repealed in Florida.

"Fl just repackaged that is why fl has the most attending we need to [repeal]," she tweeted.

The many facets of grassroots activism were discussed, including messaging, research, education, and legislative action. Alternatives means of education were also discussed, such as private, home, and charter schooling. A more detailed plan, is now available on the FreedomWorks website that will continue being updated. FreedomWorks was a major co-sponsor of the event and is a partner with us in the Florida fight. The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition was honored to be able to provide detailed input into that document.

The event will be re-broadcast on July 29th.  Here are some photos from some of the participants around Florida:

#StopJebNow - Bloomberg Interviews Dr. Effrem About Jeb Bush as His Florida Poll Numbers Start to Slide July, 2014

Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg News wrote a story about the fierce criticism that Jeb Bush has been receiving regarding his stubborn and misguided support of Common Core.  He interviewed Dr. Effrem who said:

"There's a lot of anger and concern about him running, because of his stance on education," said Karen Effrem, co- founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, which is made up of several local tea party groups. "All he's doing is expanding federal control and destroying the autonomy of parents and local school districts."

Despite the reporter's efforts to be balanced by listing some improved education statistics since Bush's tenure as governor, all of the people interviewed listed concerns, if not downright hostility to Common Core.  Here is a political science professor Audrey Jewell from Orlando:

Bush also faces an uphill battle in trying to convert those statistics into a winning message to Common Core skeptics in the tea party movement, said Aubrey Jewett, who teaches political science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

"Theoretically, it should help him because at least some of the data does support what he's saying," he said. "But there are some folks in the Republican Party who do not want to do anything on Common Core -- other than get rid of it."

In addition, Bush is starting to get criticism from Florida media outlets. Jac Wilder VerSteeg of the Sun Sentinel wrote a column saying:
Jeb is a godfather of bogus high-stakes testing. Way back in 1999, he started using the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to assign grades to schools. Nothing about that grading system was valid. Yet then-Gov. Bush claimed it was "accountability."

Things have only gotten worse in subsequent years. Schools and teachers have been labeled as "failing" by a test that was not even administered to large numbers of their students. The Legislature and Gov. Scott decided high-stakes tests should be used to decide if a teacher should be kept or fired. Never mind that there is no formula or algorithm that can reliably tell which teachers are good and which are bad.

The harm to students punished, retained and even denied a diploma because of bad scores on high-stakes tests, is even worse. In a tacit admission that the FCAT was inadequate for the purposes for which it was used, Florida abandoned that test and planned to adopt the Common Core Standards and tests. But Florida's Republican governor and Legislature fretted and dithered because of right-wing opposition to Common Core -- which former Gov. Bush supports.

The result is that Florida does not have its own tests to measure progress on Common Core and, as the Sun Sentinel reported, will use a version of Utah's tests.


Any in-depth look at Gov. Bush's education record will confirm his reputation is undeserved. That's the third pillar falling down.

Bush is also starting to slide in Florida polls even in his home state.  Sunshine State News reported last week on a Survey USA poll showing that Bush is no longer leading in the presidential polls even in his home state:
A new poll shows U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., running better in Florida against former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton than two potential Republican presidential candidates from the Sunshine State in hypothetical 2016 match-ups.

Bush also is also faring poorly against many conservatives in the GOP. In this Sunshine State News article about the Western Conservative Summit, Chairman John Andrews said that conservatives were much more enthusiastic about Floridians Dr. Ben Carson and Allen West:

While Andrews called Bush a "hero" for his work on education, he added that the former Florida governor's support for Common Core has "tarnished" him with Western conservatives. Andrews also said Bush's position on immigration, such as criticizing Arizona's law, and his father and brother also serving in the White House, have undermined his standing with conservatives.

"Between Common Core, immigration and the Bush family, Western conservatives would not be warm to an address from Gov. Bush," said Andrews.

One can only hope that those who love freedom and see the dangers of Common Core prevail in convincing Jeb not to run.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Common Core Law July, 2014

In a scathing rebuke of the FedEd/corporate crony forces on the Oklahoma State School Board, the state Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit trying to strike down the state's new law withdrawing from Common Core to develop new standards and tests.  The justices rendered their decision just four hours after hearing the oral arguments in an 8-1 decision.  According to KOCO News quote of the bill's co-author, Rep. Jason Nelson "The Legislature is the supreme law-making authority in the state. Academic standards in Oklahoma have the force and effect of law."  See the video HERE for more details.

Hopefully, whoever is governor next year and the legislature will observe Oklahoma's refreshing efforts to truly invoke state sovereignty and follow their example, instead of using deceit and lipstick on a pig efforts to continue dancing to Jeb Bush's and Pearson's tune.



NEW VIDEO: Quick News Update: Clawson Wins, Dangerous Genetic Data Bill Passes, TN Out of PARCC, Cruz Attacks CCSS in FL June, 2014

Here is a brief recap of the news we have been following and some new news:

1) Curt Clawson Wins - In the general special election for the Florida's 19th Congressional District, Curt Clawson (R) won handily over his Democrat and Libertarian opponents, 67% to 29% to 4%, respectively. He will be in Washington DC tomorrow to replace former Rep. Trey Radel.  In his victory speech, he said it was necessary to "put the Constitution front and center again."  FSCCC wishes him well as he applies that concept to the dangerously unconstitutional Common Core mess.

2) Bachmann Criticizes Loss of Consent & Privacy in Genetics Bill - Sadly, HR 1281, the baby genetic screening without consent bill, passed the House today on a voice vote. However, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6) showed great courage and grace under fire to bring up the consent and privacy problems even though the bill was going to pass. Hopefully, something can be done to remedy this in the appropriations process and links to Common Core databases can be stopped. Thanks to all who spread the word and contacted Congress! We will post the video or transcript when available. UPDATE: Here is the video of  Mrs. Bachmann's important and courageous speech: 

3) Jeb Bush Ally and Chiefs for Change Member Defeated in Oklahoma - Like former Indiana and Florida Commissioner Tony Bennett, Janet Baresi, another member of Jeb Bush's foundation offshoot Chiefs for Change and strong Common Core supporter, wasn't just defeated in Oklahoma, she was trounced.  She did not win a single county and was in last place in 71 out of the 77 counties. Congratulations to the strong work of the activists in Oklahoma, particularly Jenni White and Restore Oklahoma Public Education.

4) Tennessee Pulls Out of PARCC -  Tennessee just announced that they are out of PARCC.  The once mighty federally funded, federally supervised, contractually committed to give individual student level data to the federal government, consortium is now down to 14 state and the District of Columbia.  If they lose one more state, the consortium will no longer be viable.

5) APP Offers Thank You Note for Jindal - To thank Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal for his great leadership in removing Louisiana from Common Core, the American Principles Project is offering a thank you letter giving the opportunity for parents and ctizens across the nation to sign it. 

6) Cruz Attacks Common Core in Bush Stomping Grounds - Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a likely 2016 contender and favorite of conservatives, spoke at the Miami-Dade Lincoln Reagan Day event and gave a no-holds barred attack on Common Core and illegal immigration.  These positions put him at odds with Bush on two issues very important to the conservative base. UPDATE: Here is video courtesy of Shark Tank where the senator said that "we need to repeal every word of Common Core":


Urge NO Vote TODAY on HR 1281 - Unconsented Baby DNA Research that Can End Up in Common Core Database June, 2014

Karen R. Effrem, MD - FSCCC Executive Director & President of Education Liberty Watch

Today, June 24th, the US House is expected to vote on HR 1281, Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R.1281), which would extend for five years the funding program that allows states to collect and store newborn DNA without parental consent. Analysis by great expert on and champion  of medical freedom and privacy, Twila Brase of Citizens Council for Health Freedom warns that this bill has many problems which are detailed in her alert:
1) No Consent Requirement.
2) Long-Term Surveillance.
3) Nationalized Newborn Screening.
4) Intrusive Labeling, Profiling and Sharing. 
5) Genetic Research on Newborns.
6) Genetic Testing of Newborns for Conditions Not Yet Determined Appropriate for Newborn Screening.
7) $99.5 Million Price Tag.

The reason FSCCC is so concerned about this bill is because there is already at least one state program in place that is linking this newborn genetic data to early childhood and K-12 databases being implemented through the Race to the Top and Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and linked to the Common Core standards and related tests.  Rhode Island said the following in their Early Learning Challenge grant application:
"Rhode Island's proposed early learning data system will be linked to both the state's K-12 data system and to the state's universal newborn screening and health data system, helping to identify children with high needs, track participation in programs, and track children's development and learning."
The cradle to grave federal educational control is discussed in an Education Liberty Watch article about the Early Learning Challenge program.  Rhode Island's program was also discussed and highlighted at the National Center for Education Statistics national data conference in Washington DC last summer detailed in this report.

PLEASE call your own US House member TODAY and ask them to vote NO on this very dangerous bill.  We join CCHF in opposition because "it strips parents of initial right of consent, grants default ownership of newborn genetic code to the state and empowers the government to conduct long-term surveillance of newborns into adolescence." In addition, FSCCC opposes this bill for its potential to add genetic data to Common Core linked databases as is occurring in Rhode Island. 

Common Core Testing Contract Corruption & Incompetence Appear Widespread June, 2014

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Evidence of collusion, corruption, skirting of state financial transparency and procurement laws and general incompetence is starting to roll in from around the nation.  Here are some prominent examples:
  • Arizona Thanks to excellent research by The Cult of Common Core author Brad McQueen, it is clear that a private company, Pearson, was hired by the PARCC testing consortium to develop the federally funded, federally supervised Common Core national tests.  Arizona was forced to drop out of the PARCC consortium, because their superintendent, John Huppenthal, was working with Pearson while working for the state of Arizona; in signing the memorandum of understanding with PARCC, he promised that Arizona would use the PARCC test in defiance of the state's competitive bidding laws; and both PARCC and Pearson submitted bids for the testing contract, essentially giving the federal PARCC test two bids over the single bids submitted by the other four companies involved. Another McQueen article shows emails between Huppenthal and those at PARCC/Pearson that seem to indicate collusion.
  • Louisiana - As covered in our report about Louisiana's withdrawal from Common Core and PARCC, based on the research of Mercedes Schneider, State Superintendent John White testified to the Louisiana House that the state had agreed to participate in PARCC development, but not actually use the test. Mercedes Schneider continues to chronicle how White has attempted to skirt the competitive bidding process by tying the PARCC contract to an older sole source or no-bid contract from the Data Recognition Corporation (DRC).  Like the American Institutes for Research (AIR), DRC has also been heavily involved in developing the Common Core tests for the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium (SBAC); is involved in New York and Ohio, which are PARCC states; has developed the Common Core test for Pennsylvania that pulled out of both PARCC and SBAC; and has combined with other testing and data mining organizations (see below).  Jindal administration officials have notified White that not only are his dealings with PARCC being investigated, but also that his power to spend state funds is suspended pending the audit.
  • Florida Despite announcing and allegedly signing the contract with AIR for Florida's Common Core test in March, the contract is nowhere to be seen for review on the state website listing contracts. This is after multiple requests from legislators, FSCCC, other groups and activists during and since the legislative session.  On June 23, I received assurances that a paper version of the contract would be sent, but the DOE official still had no idea when the electronic version would be available. Besides the many problems with AIR that we have chronicled, AIR has joined with DRC to develop the Florida test, as well as the SBAC, Ohio and New York tests.  In addition, there are personnel connections between AIR, The Florida Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Education and Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE).
  • Dr. Christy Hovanetz, was with AIR and directed the value added measures project when AIR received a nearly $4 million 2011 grant from the Florida DOE. (See contract on page 96 of PDF).  She previously had worked for the Florida and Minnesota Departments of Education and is now a full-time senior fellow at FEE.
  • Dr. Jon Cohen, executive vice-president and director of AIR's Assessment program, is listed in the Reformer Profiles section of the FEE website.
Pearson, a major FEE contributor, based in Britain and owned in significant portion by the government of Libya and a Sharia-compliant bank, is another testing company that has major Florida connections:
  • Pearson was fined $7.7 million for violating New York law for using its charitable foundation in ventures that assisted the for-profit division and was fined numerous times for at least $19 million due to delayed results for the FCAT.  All told, Pearson had major problems in Florida in 2000, 2002, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. 
  • In addition, emails obtained by the group In the Public Interest show lobbying efforts by FEE for legislation that would benefit large donors like Pearson.  This has been reported by numerous outlets, including the Huffington Post and the Tampa Bay Times.
Examples of mistakes in testing all over the country are rampant.  The Washington Post article shows the problems Pearson has had, not only in the US, but worldwide.   AIR and DRC have also had many problems for years in numerous states, including Nebraska and Minnesota, the home state of DRC.  Ironically, Minnesota is cutting ties to AIR and DRC and returning to Pearson, even though they had major problems with them in 2000 and 2010.

With the stakes for testing being so very high, controlling teacher pay and tenure, district funding, student grade advancement and graduation, it is appalling that companies with such poor records and controversial actions are receiving millions of taxpayer dollars and so much control over the lives of our students and teachers.  Please strongly urge Governor Scott to cancel the AIR contract and stay tuned as we examine the legalities of opting out of the state tests.

Jindal's Leadership on Common Core Provides Another Great Example for Scott & Further Isolates Bush June, 2014

Following Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley, Louisiana's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal provides another great example of leadership on the Common Core issue.  On June 18th, he signed executive orders withdrawing his state from the Common Core standards and the PARCC testing consortium and ordering the development of new standards, a competitive bidding process for new tests that do not involve consrotia, as the PARCC test process was considered to be in violation of Louisiana law, and an audit of the testing contracts.  [The press release, the letter to PARCC and two executive orders are available on the governor's website.]

There are some, including activists from Louisiana, that question whether this is serious or just another political "lipstick on a pig" stunt as has been done in Florida and Indiana. In addition, state Superintendent John White and the Louisiana Department of Education issued a press release stating that Jindal does not have the legal authority to do what he did and that they will proceed with implementing Common Core and PARCC in the 2014-2015 school year.

However, Mercedes Schneider offers excellent analysis as to why the Jindal orders seem to be sincere, substantive and legal:

  • According to the Louisiana Constitution, "the Governor may issue an executive order which suspends any rule or regulation adopted by a state department, agency, board or commission within thirty days of adoption." (Article IV, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, as amended, and La. R.S. 49:970. Emphasis added).  The June 18th Order BJ 2014 6 then legally nullifies the adoption of PARCC as the Louisiana assessment by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) that occurred on May 20th.
  • John White testified to the Louisiana legislature in April that there is no contract to purchase the PARCC test, only to participate in development, and "White has produced no contract for Louisiana to purchase PARCC which means that the BESE decision to adopt PARCC on May 20, 2014, is the only formal action taken to tie Louisiana to using PARCC." (Schneider)
  • "The second executive order above poses two issues for White: First, he must produce that PARCC MOU for PARCC purchase that he told the House Appropriations Committee doesn't exist. (Either he secretly signed an agreement that he is not willing to publicize which was the case with inBloom or he has no contract to tie Louisiana to purchasing PARCC." (Schneider)
  • "Another issue is that White's PARCC spending will be audited. On April 8, 2014, White told the House Appropriations Committee that the state education budget was $55 million short. It is time for White to produce a detailed accounting of his LDOE spending. Starting with PARCC is just fine." (Schneider)
  • Jindal states in his letter to PARCC, "I have notified the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor's Association (NGA) of Louisiana's termination of participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative." (Emphasis added.) The letter to CCSSO and NGA is not available for review.
  • Finally, Schneider notes, "... Jindal has stated that he removed Louisiana from CCSS, and PARCC is tied to CCSS. Also, Jindal notes that in the competitive bidding process for assessments' he is restricting the search to assessment companies not associated with consortia." This is evidence that he is not just picking another testing firm tied to Common Core as Florida has done with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which is tied to SBAC, and that he seems serious about ending both Common Core, PARCC, and federally funded and supervised testing consortia in Louisiana.
Jindal's innovative and courageous efforts show another way that Florida Governor Rick Scott could proceed on Common Core without deceiving the people and without the legislature, who completely failed to deal with the Common Core issue in a meaningful way during the 2014 session. Scott is paying for this politically as he continues to lag behind Charlie Crist in the Real Clear Politics average.  This is most likely due in significant part to voter anger at the deceptive handling of this issue and for choosing such a terrible testing firm as AIR.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog noted the stark contrast between Jindal and Jeb Bush on Common Core after Louisiana's announcement.  This is in keeping with our report on Bush's growing isolation as a result of his stubborn support of these inferior, invasive, and expensive standards, tests, and data collection systems.

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition urges Governor Scott to follow the lead of Governor Jindal and exercise his constitutional authority to get rid of the Common Core and investigate these complicated and potentially corrupt testing contracts.  As former Governor Bush is becoming more isolated in his support for Common Core, so is current Governor Scott for perpetrating such misleading rebranding efforts of Common Core and choosing AIR with such pronounced  social engineering tendencies.

Please contact Governor Scott and respectfully, but firmly ask that he stop with the deception, withdraw from the Common Core standards initiative via executive order, and cancel the contract with AIR:

(850) 717-9337
Email Governor Scott

Oklahoma & South Carolina Repeals of Common Core Could Teach Florida Valuable Lessons June, 2014

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition sends hearty congratulations and kudos to the parents, teachers, activists, legislators and governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina for their fantastic work in passing true Common Core repeal bills.  These bills are not deceptive rebrands such as occurred in Indiana via legislation or here in Florida via executive action.  Their language and circumstances have a lot to teach the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott.

Both bills prevent a rebrand, demand that the new standards are not aligned in any way to Common Core, and require legislative approval, especially if adopting standards from outside groups.  Oklahoma actually reverts to previous standards while the new ones are developed.

It is especially noteworthy that Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma signed such an excellent repeal and replace bill while serving as the chairwoman of the National Governor's Association.  The NGA, which receives 80% of its funding from the federal government, is one of the major developers and proponents of the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards.  Despite this, her signing statement struck the right tone in a number of areas, mentioning the role of parents and the overreach of the federal government:

"Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core.  President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president's plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies," Fallin said.

"We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma's public schools. The words 'Common Core' in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children. If we are going to improve our standards in the classroom, now is the time to get to work," Fallin added.

If Oklahoma can do it while their governor was head of the NGA and under tremendous pressure from the corporate establishment proponents like the Chamber of Commerce (rightly criticized by Joy Pullman for "Jumping the Shark" on Common Core), there is no reason that Florida cannot stand up to Jeb Bush and his corporate crony partners, including Pearson and Microsoft.

Please contact Governor Scott as follows and urge him to really do something meaningful about Common Core that would include taking us out of the standards and canceling the AIR testing contract:
(850) 717-9337
Email Governor Scott

FL DOE Weaves Tangled Web of Deceit About Common Core in NCLB Waiver June, 2014

The Florida Department of Education renewed its NCLB waiver on June 4th and twisted itself into knots trying to say that it wasn't really involved in Common Core.  The only problem with that line of reasoning is that it will break the rules of the waiver.
Principle 1 of the waiver is "College- and Career-Ready Expectations for All Students." Principle 1a in that section of the waiver application says, "Adopt College- and Career-Ready Standards."  As can be seen from Florida's document below, states are given the following two choices regarding the standards: 

As shown, Florida chose the option of adopting standards "common to a significant number of states."  The only standards that fit that definition were Common Core.  Yet, the master deceivers in the FL DOE try to convince the feds that they have complied with that requirement while at the same time convincing the public that the Florida standards are something other than Common Core with a new name or "lipstick on a pig." Here are some examples from the waiver renewal application:
As can be seen, they are busy crossing out the phrase Common Core in their narrative, but leave it in their chart.  This is typical of the whole document.  FL DOE tries to pretend that the standards adopted in 2010 were something other than the Common Core.  They also attempt to change the narrative to Florida standards, but leave Common Core in in numerous places.  They are following in the footsteps of Orwell's Big Brother by removing the Common Core from the public record as if it never existed, when clearly it has and still does. If Florida wants everyone to believe that they made up their own standards from the beginning, then they violated the waiver, because that, as shown above, requires that they adopt standards "common to a significant number of states."

If the DOE did not adopt Common Core, then they also violated the memorandum of understanding (starting on p. 121 of the PDF) for the Race to the Top application saying explicitly that Florida was adopting Common Core. That memorandum stated, "States that choose to align their standards to the common core standards agree to ensure that the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state's standards in English language arts and mathematics." It is signed by Charlie Crist and Eric Smith:

The undersigned state leaders agree to the process and structure as described above and attest accordingly by our signature(s) below.

In 2010, the Department clearly refused to take even the original option of 15% as evidenced by this statement about the English standards (there is an identical statement for math):

"In summer of 2010 the Florida Department of Education convened a state committee to determine if additional content (up to 15%) was needed to satisfy English language arts requirements in Florida. Based on the results of this study, in the fall of 2010 the Department recommended no additions be made to the original Common Core State Standards adopted in July 2010." - Northeast FL Education Guide.
Even after the change to the "Florida standards" that Commissioner Stewart, Speaker Weatherford,, and other department officials all essentially admitted was a sham, the 99 changes in over eleven thousand standards make them still over 99% Common Core.

When having this many problems telling the truth about basic facts, do we really want these people in charge of the academic standards filling the hearts and minds of our children?

Truth in American Education Highlights FL CCSS Resistance in Rebuttal to Fordham Elections Propaganda June, 2014

Shane Vander Hart of Truth in American Education wrote an excellent rebuttal to yet another propaganda piece by the Fordham Institute's Michael Brickman and Michael Petrilli, both paid cheerleaders of Common Core.  This time, they are trying to put forth the silly idea that supporting Common Core is a winning election issue in Republican primaries. 

Vander Hart brings up several great points.  Among them:

"First, the article is poorly sourced."

"Second, it is a logical fallacy to state that incumbents won re-election based on their advocacy for the Common Core while at the same time stating that Common Core opponents in Indiana who knocked off incumbents didn't do so on their Common Core opposition alone."

"Third, they made some false statements regarding the Ohio Republican primary."  [Readers may read the article and the one he quotes from for details, but most important is that an anti-Common Core candidate beat an incumbent in a Republican primary for the first time in 18years and that the senate president realized through that loss and through pre-election polling that Common Core is a huge issue in Ohio].

"Fourth there was at least one Congressional primary where Common Core was an issue, and the Common Core opponent won.  Why did they neglect to mention that?" [This was a link to our discussion of the Curt Clawson victory].

"Fifth, Brickman and Petrilli only list incumbents who won primary challenges.  They don't seem to understand how hard it is to knock off incumbents who typically have better organization, more funding, party backing, earned media attention, etc." [In the quote from the Ohio article, Heidi Huber from Ohioans Against Common Core mentioned that four Ohio House candidates for open seats won when opposing Common Core was a significant part of their platform.]
Shane also then links to two of our recent articles. One is on the two Florida Senate candidates making Common Core an issue in the Republican primary, including against sitting Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto who lost to Curt Clawson in the congressional race mentioned above.  The second FSCCC article linked to was about the Florida congressional primary in District 9 where the leading candidate, Jorge Bonilla, is also making Common Core a big issue in his campaign and is doing much better than the Jeb Bush endorsed candidate. 

To Vander Hart's great analysis, we would add the following:
  • Even strongly establishment candidates that have the backing of pro-Common Core people like Jeb Bush, such as North Carolina US Senate candidate Thom Tillis, or those perceived to be establishment like newly endorsed Minnesota US Senate candidate Mike McFadden, made strong statements against Common Core during their campaigns.
  • The number of openly pro-Common Core would-be Republican presidential candidates is rapidly shrinking.  After Bobby Jindal's scathing indictment of Common Core at the Southern Leadership Conference, about the only two major potential presidential Common Core backers are Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
  • Brickman and Petrilli only mentioned the slanted McLaughlin poll commissioned by a pro Common Core group.  They neglected to mention both the Sunshine State News poll from Jeb Bush's home state of Florida and the much more realistic The University of Connecticut national poll , both of which showed significant opposition to Common Core among primary voters.
Despite the dizzying spin of the Brickman/Petrilli piece and other pro-Common Core , polls and primaries are not looking good for Common Core proponents, and Florida is right in the thick of the battle.

Even Mainstream Media Question Scott's Statements about Being Out of Common Core May, 2014

Aside from Bill Korach's May 22nd and 27th articles in the Report Card supporting Governor Rick Scott's less than accurate statements regarding Florida being out of Common Core, the media has been fairly correct about the situation. Korach quoted the governor as saying the following:

"The Florida State Standard is THE standard, not Common Core."

Sadly, the facts do not support this statement at all.  When using regular math, instead of fuzzy, Common Core math, the numbers do not add up.  Ninety-eight changes involving cursive writing and calculus that will not be tested in the general state tests, out of eleven thousand math and English standards still leaves 99.1% Common Core.
The governor's statement is even harder to believe when so many top officials have already admitted throughout, that the entire public hearing process was a complete sham:
Speaker Weatherford, kowtowing to the corporate overlords in the Council of 100 in November of 2013 before what were accurately described as "tweaks" and "copy edits" in the "Florida standards" were released, said:
              I just want you to know, the state of Florida is going to have a higher standard,
              they are going to be Common Core standards, they are going to be applicable
              to the rest of the country, they may be called something else, I don't know, but
              at the end of the day the actual standards will be there, and the state of Florida
              will support them . . . . (Emphasis added)
Commissioner Stewart admitting to the Ocala Star Banner on 9/30/13 that the standards changes would not be significant even before the hearing process started:
"While the Department of Education plans to hold community town hall meetings to hear from the public about the pros and cons of the new Common Core State Standards, she expects little changes in the curriculum as a result." (Emphasis added).
Race to the Top coordinator Holly Edenfield also stated in a letter dated the day after the governor's executive order and well before the dates of the hearings were even announced:
"Florida is not delaying implementation of the Common Core," Holly Edenfield, the state's Race to the Top coordinator, wrote to school district officials the next day. "We are opening up the standards for public review which might result in some changes to them, but significant changes are not expected." (Emphasis added)
K-12 Deputy Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen in a webinar the day before the comment period closed:
"We are moving forward with the new more rigorous standards.  So, if anyone is hesitating or worried about next year, the timeline has not changed.  We are moving forward and we will have new course descriptions for next year and ... new assessments." (Emphasis added).
The media, both in Florida and nationally, have also accurately refuted the deceptive tactics of this administration:
Jeff Solochek
of the Tampa Bay Times and Politifact, who can in no way be described as a friend of the anti-Common Core movement, wrote in direct response to the first Korach article:
 While Scott has said that Florida's standards are its own, Common Core foes often have called him out on this one. They have accurately noted that the Florida Standards are actually the Common Core with the addition of 98 items, mostly related to cursive handwriting and calculus instruction. Supporters of the Common Core did not protest the revisions, saying they were minor and noting the State Board of Education removed nothing.
Scott offered a different version of events to Report Card. He said, "The Florida Standard is derived from the Next Generation Sunshine State Standard, which was derived from earlier versions of the Sunshine State Standards. These standards pre-dated Common Core and a truly Florida's own standards."
Except for this: The Florida Board of Education adopted the Common Core in 2010, replacing the Next Generation standards in English/language arts and math. When it rebranded everything as Florida Standards, it included the revised Common Core and the state standards in other subject areas. (Emphasis added).
Irene Flores of New America Media quoted several Florida sources including Dr. Karen Effrem about the name change in a May 27th piece titled, In Florida Schools, Its Common Core by Another Name:
"We tinkered with the Florida standards but it's really Common Core--it's now the policy of the state," said David Lawrence Jr. with The Children's Movement of Florida and Education and Community Leadership Scholar at the University of Miami's School of Education and Human Development...

...According to Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, "Florida standards are 99.1 percent Common Core. It was completely a name change, or as we have dubbed it, 'lipstick on a pig.'"

She says it makes no difference what you call it as many of the tweaks are not actually going to show up on the tests and that furthermore they don't change the substantive problems with the standards, those that she and others fought from the start.

Florida AP reporter Gary Fineout said, "But shhh - don't tell anyone this - Common Core isn't really going away in Florida, just the name."
Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, though incorrectly criticizing Rep. Van Zant on the AIR controversy, did say:
It [AIR] did recently win a new six-year $220 million contract from the Florida Education Department to develop new state standardized tests that will be aligned to the new Florida Standards, which started out as the Common Core but got a name change amid growing opposition to the Core initiative. The Florida Standards themselves remain remarkably similar to the Common Core. (Emphasis added).
Even the Bill Gates funded EdWeek website said the following about Florida's new test:
It was kind of a done deal already, of course, since Florida announced a couple weeks ago that it chose the American Institutes for Research, rather than PARCC, to make its common-core tests. But today we see that PARCC has officially dropped Florida from its list of members. (Emphasis added).
Korach then goes on both in the first and most of the second article to try to defend the three "Lipstick on a Pig" bills the governor signed to try to appease the growing anger at Common Core, especially the alleged "local control" bill.  He finished his second article by saying, "Some voices have been skeptical about the intentions of Governor Scott to purge Common Core. However, these three bills will provide a powerful tool to citizens if they will exercise their rights."  Unfortunately, only one of the three allows any exercise of citizens' rights, and that one is very limited. Here is a summary (for more details, see our legislative wrap-up):

HB 7031 This removes common Core from statute, but is completely cosmetic.  This only removes the controversial name.  The only thing parents can do here to exercise their rights is to remove their children from public schools and avoid private schools that teach these awful standards and obsess about the invasive, useless, far too frequent, and very expensive tests.
SB189 While this law prohibits collection of the most controversial types of data, it does nothing to deal with the fact that hundreds of other data points are gathered and used without consent for research and evaluation due to the federal administrative weakening of the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.  This bill also does nothing to protect psychologically invasive surveys and assessments. This bill offers no opportunity whatsoever for parents, students, or teachers to exercise their Fourth Amendment rights.
SB 864 - This law is the only one of the three that allows any parental involvement or local control, but does nothing to deal with the many problems with Common Core.  IF a district exercises the option to choose its own curriculum, they must "certify to the department by March 31 of each year that all instructional materials for core courses used by the district are aligned with applicable state standards [i.e. Common Core]." With regard to parental objections, IF parents are able to find out about bad curriculum, they must file an objection within 30 days of the curriculum being ADOPTED, not when their students are exposed to the objectionable material.

Honest policy disagreements are one thing, but outright deception is particularly objectionable and should not be tolerated from public officials. Media outlets need to their due diligence.

[Updated 6/2/14 to show 5/27/14 New America Media article]

Jeb Bush Endorsed Congressional Candidate Woefullly Ignorant of Constitution & Federal Role in Education May, 2014

Javier Manjerres of Shark Tank reported on the debate between the candidates for the Republican nomination to take on Democrat Allen Grayson in Congressional District 9 that took place on May 22nd.  The candidates are U.S. Navy veteran Jorge Bonilla, realtor Carol Platt, and Pastor Peter Vivaldi.

Here is how Shark Tank described each candidate:

Jorge Bonilla, who is running for elected office for the first time, is considered by many to be the frontrunner in the Republican primary race, and having the best chance to defeat Alan Grayson this November. Bonilla has been placed on former Congressman Allen West's coveted "One's to Watch" list, and has been endorsed by Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and state Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) 

Carol Platt, the soft-spoken Realtor from Osceola County, like Bonilla, is a virtual newbie at running for office, but not to the political game. Platt's family history in the district and numerous contribution to elected officials over the years have garnered her widespread support within traditional Republican circles. Platt announced the endorsement of state Representative Mike DeRosa at the debate, and mention in her closing remarks, the support she has received from Jeb Bush, Charlie Bronson, and former Congressman Dave Wheldon. (Emphasis added).

Peter Vivaldi is a Pastor who seems to have growing support from within the Hispanic evangelical community, has run for office several times before, but has come up empty handed each time. Vivaldi has been endorsed by the former liberal Democrat Governor of Puerto Rico, but is considered by a growing many to be unelectable, considering the recent discovery that he falsified an application he submitted for consideration of appointment to a vacant Orange County Commission seat. Vivaldi, whose falsification of the document stems back to his 1989 Felony arrest for passing bad check(s), was up for this appointment in 2011, but did not vet with Florida Governor Rick Scott's administration.

As in the CD19 primary won by Curt Clawson, education, particularly the US Department of Education, and Common Core, was a prominent issue.  When asked if they would shut down the U.S. Department of Education, both Bonilla and Vivaldi said they would without hesitation.  Bonilla also promised that if elected, he would sponsor or co-sponsor a bill to defund Common Core at the federal level. He also correctly pointed out that Florida had rebranded Common Core as the Florida Standards, not gotten rid of it.

The Jeb Bush endorsed Platt, however, would not directly answer the question, saying that there were some good things done at the federal level but that the federal government had overstepped its bounds.  She then demonstrated incredible ignorance both the federal and constitutional roles in education.  Here is the report of her response:

Platt said that the federal government was stepping into states rights," and that there are "some good things that can be done in D.C.," adding that the feds were not responsible for our children's education, and that Florida, as well as all other states, needed to be held responsible. "I would be in favor of the true boundaries of the national board of education...There are many agencies that are being disguised that are better served by a different style of agency, and if that's where we have to go, that's where we'll go."

There is no national board of education and if following the "true boundaries," she would have said that unconstitutional Department of Education should not ever have been formed and should be shut down. As expected, when asked by Manjerres after the debate if she opposed Common Core, she parroted the Jeb Bush approved talking points:

Carol Platt responded by saying that education is "not where it needs to be," and that "there are some good aspects of it," and that there needed to be improvements to it, adding that there was "misinformation" about Common Core circulating around.

Here is the Shark Tank video of all three candidates' responses on the  education question:

According to a straw poll conducted by members of the Republican Club of Solavita that hosted the event, Bonilla won the debate by a resounding vote of 55% to 31% for Vivaldi to 14% for Platt. It looks as though we have another congressional district where the candidate with a sincere, well articulated and constitutionally grounded opposition to Common Core is leading  in a contested primary.



Sunshine State News Picks Up FSCCC Press Release About Rep. Van Zant & AIR's Social Engineering May, 2014

Allison Neilsen from Sunshine State News did an excellent story quoting the FSCCC press release about Representative Charles Van Zant's brave and truthful attack on the American Institutes for Research blatant promotion of the GLBT agenda.  Kudos to them for being willing to see both sides.

Rep. Van Zant Correctly Calls Out AIR's Social Engineering Agenda May, 2014

The group Think Progress and multiple media outlets are attacking Representative Charles Van Zant for telling the truth about AIR's social engineering agenda. Rep. Van Zant spoke at the March 22nd Operation Education Conference and mentioned AIR's promotion of this lifestyle. He was followed by Dr. Karen Effrem who verified his concerns and elaborated on this and the other problems with AIR.  As we have reported, this organization seems far more concerned with promoting the GLBT agenda and psychosocial teaching and testing than with academics.  
That AIR is going far beyond "research" but into full blown promotion of these sexual practices in families, churches, and society at large is evident in the brief that we linked in our previous press release.  AIR tries to normalize the idea that homosexual tendencies begin at a young age by saying:
Adolescents in our research for the Family Acceptance ProjectTM (FAP) said they were attracted to another person of the same gender at about age 10.  Some knew they were gay at age 7 or 9.. Overall, they identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, on average, at age 13.4. Their families learned about their LGB identity about a year later. (Emphasis added)    
Later in that same paper, they promote the GLBT lifestyle in families and churches by listing "Some Family Behaviors that Reduce Your LGBT Child's Risk for Health and Mental Health Problems & Help Promote Their Well-Being" that ask families and religious congregations to override beliefs and convictions.  Here are some examples of AIR's blatant promotion of the GLBT lifestyle:
* "Support your child's LGBT identity even though you may feel uncomfortable
* "Bring your child to LGBT organizations or events*"Connect your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future."
* "Work to make your congregation supportive of LGBT members, or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your family and LGBT child."
*"Believe your child can have a happy future as an LGBT adult" 

"Representative Van Zant was completely correct in his statements that AIR is promoting the GLBT lifestyle in children, and they are doing the same within families and churches," said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. "AIR is taking $220 million from the citizens of Florida to develop what are supposed to be academic tests based on allegedly rigorous academic standards. However, given that AIR focuses heavily on controversial, non-academic psychosocial issues and data mining; that the federal government and many groups admit that the Common Core standards teach psychosocial issues having nothing to do with English and math; and that the computer adaptive tests will be individualized and not available for parental review; parents have no guarantee that their children are protected from psychological or attitudinal profiling by AIR's tests. Governor Scott should reject the AIR contract and demand the resignation of Commissioner Stewart."

Please do the following:

District Office:  (386) 312-2272

(850) 717-9337
Email Governor Scott

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.





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!

Parents Fighting to Protect Privacy Cause inBloom Data Mining Scheme to Fold in Failure April, 2014

It has been a bad week for the corporate education overlords that seek to impose the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards on our children, psychologically profile them via the tests and gather data on them from womb to tomb.  We have already reported on the huge win by genuine anti-Common Core outsider candidate Curt Clawson over the candidate described by Time Magazine and Slate as the Jeb Bush and or GOP establishment candidate.

These corporate marauders are also having to deal with the huge setback that their for-profit data mining scheme, inBloom, has been forced to shut down.  This data collection instrument for supposedly "personalized learning" was going to collect 400 different kinds of student, family, and teacher data all without consent.  inBloom was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, and Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation.  Parents, teachers, and attorneys from all over the nation  have revolted against the unconscionably invasive efforts of these entities to grab their their children's and families' data without their consent to use for profiling and career tracking purposes.

Here is an excerpt from Education Week's technology blog:

After months caught in the crosshairs of parents, advocates, and educators concerned about student-data privacy, controversial nonprofit inBloom announced Monday that it will close its doors.

"I have made the decision to wind down the organization over the coming months," inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger wrote in an email to the organization's supporters. "The unavailability of this technology is a real missed opportunity for teachers and school districts seeking to improve student learning." (Full statement from inBloom included below.)

The announcement comes on the heels of the New York state legislature's recent enactment of legislation that effectively pulled the plug on inBloom's last remaining large partner.

Founded in 2011, inBloom aimed to store, clean, and aggregate a wide range of student information for states and districts, then make the data available to district-approved third parties to develop tools and dashboards so the data could more easily be used by classroom educators.  

Over the past year, however, the organization became a lightning rod for those concerned about the increased collection, use, and sharing of sensitive student information. The backlash prompted a string of withdrawals by planned partners in Colorado, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

The inBloom CEO, Iwan Streichenberger,  like Jeb Bush, Don Gaetz, and many others in and outside of Florida, blamed "misunderstanding" and conspiracy mongering parents who are apparently too stupid to see the glories of having  their children's sensitive, private data available to corporations and the federal government and then having their tax dollars used to pay these unaccountable private entities to put it together in different streams for "personalized learning:"
"The use of technology to tailor instruction for individual students is still an emerging concept and inBloom provides a technical solution that has never been seen before. As a result, it has been the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism. In New York, these misunderstandings led to the recent passage of legislation severely restricting the education department from contracting with outside companies like inBloom for storing, organizing, or aggregating student data, even where those companies provide demonstrably more protection for privacy and security than the systems currently in use...We stepped up to the occasion and supported our partners with passion, but we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated...It wasn't an easy decision, and the unavailability of this technology is a real missed opportunity for teachers and school districts seeking to improve student learning."

Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education is a partner in the Data Quality Campaign, a private corporate and foundation run organization, which also belittled the concerns of parents:
"The challenges surrounding inBloom, which partly stemmed from public unfamiliarity with cloud technology and confusion about the use and security of student data, illustrates the importance of helping the public, and especially parents, understand how increased access to data helps their children succeed," said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, the executive director of the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign, in a statement issued in response to Monday's news.

No, Mr. Streichenberger, we are not misinformed.  FSCCC has joined with parents and groups across the nation and the political spectrum to sound the alarm about the data mining aspects of Common Core, inBloom, FERPA, and dangerous state legislation like last session's SB 878 that was written and heavily promoted by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future.   New York parent Leonie Haimson summed it up quite well when she said in a statement:
"There are more and more data-mining vendors who, with the help of government officials, foundations, and think tanks, are eager to make money off of student information in the name of "big data" and "personalized" learning, and in the process see parents, if they recognize our existence at all, as ignorant obstacles to their Orwellian plans," said Haimson in her statement. "We realize the fight for student privacy is just beginning."

Staunch Common Core Foe & Outsider Curt Clawson Wins Primary for FL-19 Congressional Seat April, 2014

After an extremely negative, contentious battle, anti-Common Core businessman and political outsider Curt Clawson handily won the Republican primary in Florida's 19th congressional district. Clawson's main rival, Senate Majority Lizbeth Benacquisto and GOP establishment/ Common Core proponent Jeb Bush choice for the position was within 400 votes of coming in third. As we had previously reported, we believe that Common Core was a significant issue in this campaign.

The totals were as follows:

Curt Clawson 38% - 26,281 votes
Lizbeth Benacquisto 26% - 17,834 votes
Paige Kreegel 25% - 17,442 votes
Michael Dreikorn 11% - 7,498 votes.

In an incredibly gracious victory speech, Clawson urged forgiveness and unity after the viciously negative attack ads that were directed his way. He also reached out to Hispanics, speaking in fluent Spanish, and African Americans  He  talked of his faith, his family, the Constitution, his experiences in business and playing basketball.  When he discussed what issues would be important to him in Washington, he spoke of the economy, Obamacare, and Common Core.

As evidenced by the recent Sunshine State News poll showing 2:1 opposition to Common Core among Republicans, we believe that Common Core will continue to play a prominent role in races at every level all over the country, especially in Governor Rick Scott's re-election campaign. The latest numbers show that despite millions of dollars spent on ads against Charlie Crist, he is behind 5% in the polls.


Important Education News About the April 22nd CD-19 Republican Primary April, 2014

Endorsements, attacks and other events are rapidly changing in the Republican primary race to replace Congressman Trey Radel. As Javier Manjerres of Shark Tank pointed out in February, Common Core is having a role.  Here is a recap:

Businessman Curt Clawson received the endorsement of former Republican presidential candidate and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on April 18th.  Bachmann is the chairwoman of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus and has an impeccable record of fighting against federal overreach in education since very early in her political career.  She has signed a letter against Common Core and data collection and voted for excellent anti-Common Core legislation in Congress.
Curt Clawson also received the endorsement of US Senator Rand Paul on April 14th.  Their views seeking to eliminate or greatly diminish the federal role in education are quite similar. Clawson continues to be 100% opposed to Common Core.   Paul has clearly stated his opposition to Common Core, signing a letter from Senator Charles Grassley to Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Harkin against it, as well as authoring legislation to defund the entire US Department of Education.

In addition, Clawson has received the tremendously influential endorsements of both the national and Florida Eagle Forum organizations, The Tea Party Express, and the Tea Party Patriots, all of whom oppose Common Core.

Meanwhile, one of the PACs supporting Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Liberty and Leadership Fund, continues to falsely associate Clawson with a pedophile, despite the fact that the victim's mother said that there was no connection and even after Benacquisto, Paige Kreegel, and Michael Driekorn had promised to stop negative attack ads. This Liberty and Leadership PAC shares the same address as Senator Benacquisto's Alliance for a Strong Economy PAC which also has strong ties to the Republican Party of Florida. One pundit alleged collusion between Liberty and Leadership and other candidates in trying to split the vote among Benacquisto's rivals. Benacquisto continues to deny association with the PAC.

That same Liberty and Leadership ad touted Benacquisto's support by major Common Core proponent, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  Benacquisto has also been endorsed by former Governor Mike Huckabee who famously suggested to the Council of Chief State School Officers that states should "Rebrand it, refocus it, but don't retreat."  Florida has taken Huckabee's advice.

Dr. Paige Kreegel  and Dr. Michael Dreikorn  continue to talk about their desire to abolish the US Department of Education, while Benacquisto can only manage to talk about federal block grants still tying states to the federal system and sidestepped questions about supporting a special legislative session on Common Core.

We will continue to provide information by and about the candidates as it becomes available.

Sunshine State News Common Core Poll Bears Bad News for Republican Proponents April, 2014

Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News reported on a new poll commissioned by her organization on Common Core.  It contains an important warning for politicians that support Common Core, especially Republicans.

At first glance, the poll shows that support and opposition to Common Core is evenly divided at 43%:

(Photo Credit: Sunshine State News)

When more detailed arguments for and against are given, opposition increases:

(Photo Credit: Sunshine State News)

This is similar to other polls, even by a proponent public relations firm, showing that support diminishes for Common Core when people get enough information:

(Photo Credit: Power Point presentation by Matt Gandal to American Association of State Colleges and Universities 12/13 (link no longer functional) as referenced by Missouri Education Watchdog)

The most worrisome for Republican establishment politicians that continue to force Common Core on their constituents is this information:

James Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, said while there's no real party divide on Common Core, Republicans seem to be more against the standards than Democrats by a 2:1 margin..."The kind of Republicans that are against this tend to be your more conservative, anti-government Republicans," said Lee. "These are your super voting primary Republicans. Your more mainstream candidates, like Jeb Bush, are more likely [to be in favor of the standards]." Common Core, says Lee, could put a wedge between Republicans..."This is another issue that has the potential to divide the Republican base right down the middle," he told SSN.
This means that 66% of active, engaged, supervoting Republicans oppose Common Core.  These are the very people that Governor Scott and Senator Benaquisto need and are unlikely to get given their current actions or lack thereof on Common Core.  This also means that support for a Jeb Bush presidential run will likely not be very strong in his home state.  Let them be warned.

Weatherford Assured Corporate Overlords that Plan was to Change CCSS in Name Only in November of 2013 April, 2014

We now have more stark evidence that the entire Florida effort on the standards has been a lie and a sham since the governor's summit last August.  It is smoking gun evidence that the plan all along was merely an attempt to appease the public and to change the name only.  This is also the reason that the legislative leadership has been so intransigent about even giving HB 25/SB 1316 a hearing.  Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford gave a speech to the Florida Council of 100 on November 24, 2013, during which he talked about education, including about Common Core and the upcoming legislative session. 

Here is the quote that should enrage every parent, teacher, independent businessman and lover of freedom in the state of Florida:


  I just want you to know, the state of Florida is going to have a higher standard,
              they are going to be Common Core standards, they are going to be applicable
              to the rest of the country, they may be called something else, I don't know, but
              at the end of the day the actual standards will be there, and the state of Florida
              will support them . . . . (Emphasis added) 

Note well that this was after the public comment period when the state pretended to care about what the people thought about the standards, but before the "tweaks," "copy editing," and "minor" changes were made that were supposed to, according to the propaganda put out by the legislative leadership, put "Florida on a different path" and before we were told that "Florida's standards [that are 99.1% Common Core] and assessments are tailored to our state."  As indicated by the statements from Commissioner Stewart and other Department of Education officials, this is more proof that there never was any real plan to change the standards, listen to the concerns of Florida parents and citizens, or get out from under federal control.
The Council of 100 is the group of corporate elites in Florida.  Members include immediate past president Marshall Criser, now the chancellor of the Florida university system, who believes that Common Core is a good thing even though the major architect of the math standards, Jason Zimba, said that the standards were inadequate to prepare students for careers in science and engineering or for a selective four year university.
These corporate overlords, like Rex Tillerson , the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, who is blackmailing Florida and  Pennsylvania to implement Common Core or they will not hire from those states.  In conjunction with the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Partnership they are doing an all-out ad blitz and are bullying legislators to impose Common Core in Florida and across the nation. They think they have a right to impose the untested, academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative standards testing and data collection on the children of the entire state and the nation. To them, education is all about workforce training.  As Billy Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama said in explaining why legislators should embrace the Common Core, "The business community is by far the biggest consumer of the product created by our education system." (Hat tip to Emmett McGroarty & Jane Robbins).

Our children are not products or human capital or serfs to be used at the whim of or exploited by the corporate elites. They are not guinea pigs to be programmed by an inferior, manipulative, one-size fits all nationalized education system, monitored womb to tomb by a federal data collection system that gives that data without consent to corporations, researchers and government agencies to track children into jobs for the needs of business.  The purpose of education is not workforce development, but to pass on the principles of liberty to the next generation, so that we may maintain our constitutional republic.

Please contact Governor Scott and the legislative leadership and tell them that they owe their allegiance to the constituents that voted them into office and to the Florida and US Constitutions, not the corporate cronies and lobbyists that have padded their campaign coffers.  And if they continue to disdainfully deceive the public and destroy the future of our children, things will not go well in November for them.

Governor Scott
(850) 717-9337
Email Governor Scott

Speaker Will Weatherford
(850) 717-5038  or (813) 558-5115

Majority Leader Steve Crisafulli
(850) 488-1993 or (321) 449-5111

Senator President Don Gaetz who has openly and derisively mocked opponents of Common Core.
(850) 487-5001 or (850) 897-5747

Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benaquisto who is running for Congress and has supported the implementation of Common Core, now has signed on to the opposition bill, SB 1316, but has done nothing to help the bill get a hearing in any committee.
 (850) 487-5030 or (239) 338-2570

Operation Education Videos April, 2014

Thanks to Vance Jochim of Florida Fiscal Rangers for videoing the Operation Education conference and for these excellent videos.  More will be added as they become available:

     Keynote Speech by David Barton of Wallbuilders 

Panel Discussion - Dr. Karen Effrem of FSCCC & Education Liberty Watch, Rep. Debbie Mayfield, & author and journalist Mary Jo Anderson


Laura Caruso - Florida Family Policy Council


Steven Guschov - Liberty Counsel


The Public and Media Understand the Cover-Up. Why Are Legislators and Governor Scott Continuing to Lie? April, 2014

You have called, emailed, visited, protested, attended conferences, debates, and forums.  You have looked at both sides of the issue on Common Core.  You have watched these new academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative standards wreak havoc with your children's academic knowledge and their emotions as they are being set up to fail, emotionally devastated, having the love of leaning be totally destroyed when they are young and then hearing experts say that they will be inadequately prepared for college when they are older.  You have watched programs be cut and teachers laid off in your own districts while mega corporations like Pearson and Microsoft stand to make billions and told by your elected school board that there is nothing they can do, because they are merely puppets on a string to the appointed state school board and appointed commissioner of education.   Yet no one listens.  The legislature has failed you.  They are absolutely refusing to bring forth any bills that will substantively do anything about Common Core. 

Instead, the legislature and Governor Scott are using deceptive tactics and passing bogus bills that are merely meant to placate you into thinking are "doing something."  As many journalists have discussed, Gary Finout of the Associated Press got it absolutely right when he said just yesterday, "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." Here is a brief overview and recap of these deceptive tactics:

1)  Removing Common Core from Statute in HB 7031/Changing the Name to Florida's Standards/Standards Changes

  • All of these efforts are deceptive and "put lipstick on a pig." The press has called these changes "tweaks" and "copy editing."
  • Only 98 out of 11,000 standards in Math and English were changed, which means that the "Florida Standards" are still 99.1% Common Core
  • The majority of the changes have to do with topics that will not be tested on the national tests that will determine student grade advancement and graduation, district funding, and teacher pay and tenure.
  • Department officials proclaimed during and after the public hearing and comment process that the changes to the standards were not going to be significant.
  • The Department of Education ignored the vast majority of the 19,000 comments it received, including expert testimony from Professor Sandra Stotsky in English, Ze'ev Wurman in math and Dr. Karen Effrem about developmental inappropriateness and psychological manipulation.
2) Choosing the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to test Florida's insignificantly changed Common Core standards is a horrible choice because this organization does not research and test academic issues, but rather is involved in psychosocial engineering:
  • It proclaims itself to be "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations."
  • The computer adapted tests it will produce will not produce comparable results across a single classroom, much less across the state or nation, because the questions given will vary depending on how a student answers the previous question.
  • The organization admits that it is deeply involved in data mining individual Florida student and teacher data across time (longitudinal).  Due to weakening of the federal student data protection law (FERPA) without congressional approval, this is likely done without consent. (See our analysis).
  • The company is involved in promoting controversial social issues such as acceptance of the GLBT lifestyle for young children and families.
    • "Adolescents in our research for the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) said they were attracted to another person of the same gender at about age 10.  Some knew they were gay at age 7 or 9."
    • "Bring your child to LGBT organizations or events."
    • "Connect your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future."
    • "Work to make your congregation supportive of LGBT members, or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your family and LGBT child"
3) Student and teacher data privacy is not protected in HB 195/SB 188
  • The so-called student data protection bill allows collection of data based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • There is no meaningful protection in FERPA because the law has been so weakened via regulation without congressional approval. 
  • There is an entire section of the FERPA regulations titled "99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?"
  • Thirty-four chief state school officers, including Florida's Pam Stewart, sent a letter to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that tried to give the impression that individual student data will not be given to the federal government, when both national testing groups, PARCC and SBAC clearly admit that it will be, and AIR has already admitted that it mines test data on individual students.  A formal response debunking this letter is available HERE.
  • There is zero protection against psychological teaching, testing, .or data collection via the standards, curricular assessments or state assessments.
4) We have also already explained how their next plan to deceive is to pretend to reject federal Race to the Top Money, which is in the last quarter of the last year of the grant and therefore will be meaningless.

Fox News and other outlets have reported on how potent an election issue Common Core has become.  Let us hope that Governor Scott and Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benaquisto who is running for Congress and the other officials in this state realize how angry the public is and stop the deception.

Photos from Operation Education Conference March, 2014

Here are some photos of the Operation Education Conference held on March 22nd, 2014 in Orlando Florida.  Many thanks to all who organized, hosted, co-sponsored, spoke, volunteered, and attended.  Photos courtesy of Vance Jochim of Florida Fiscal Rangers.


Eastland Baptist ChurchThe great crowd
                 Eastland Baptist Church                                                                                              The Great Crowd

David Barton - Wallbuilders                                                                                                               Rep. Debbie Mayfield

Rep. Charles Van Zant                                                                                                     Randy Osborne - Florida Eagle Forum

Laura Caruso - Florida Family Policy Council                                            Dr. Karen Effrem - Education Liberty Watch & Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Steven Guschov - Liberty Counsel                                                                    Terry Kemple - Community Issues Council


Mary Jo Anderson - Journalist, Author, & Speaker                                     Erika Donalds - Southwest Florida Citizens' Alliance


Dr. Effrem at FSCCC Table

Next Plan to Deceive is to Pretend to Reject Federal Race to the Top Money March, 2014

We have it on good authority that there is about to be a new step in the attempt to salvage the reputation of Common Core, Governor Scott's re-election, and Jeb Bush.  The plan is apparently to make a big production of rejecting federal funds for Race to the Top.  This is because we together have made such an issue about this federal grant and the memorandum of understanding that former Governor Charlie Crist and former Commissioner Eric Smith signed condemning the state to the awful Common Core standards and tests. That memorandum required that the state adopt 100% of the Common Core standards with the allowance for addition of 15% of state-specific material.  Florida formally rejected the opportunity to do that in the fall of 2010 just after the appointed State Board of Education adopted them on July 27, 2010 with no explanatory public hearings and while the legislature was not in session. Nothing changed until the minuscule, "copy editing" changes of 98 out of 11,000 or 0.8% were made and adopted in February of this year now to be deceptively called "Florida Standards".

The only problem with this scheme is that it is just more political theater.  Almost the entire grant is expended.  According to the budget documents on the Department of Education website, Florida is in the 3rd quarter of the final year of its Race to the Top grant, with the funding set to run out in June of this year (2014).  If Florida refuses some part of the contract at this point, the federal government is not going to come after money that is already spent.  Pretending to reject these funds will not change the fact that the so called Florida Standards are still 99.2% Common Core and the SB AC writing, psychologically profiling, data mining, controversial issue promoting, AIR organization will still be writing a Common Core test.  

With all of these lies and deceptions going on, stores are going to run out of lipstick for the pig.  Do not accept this!  Please contact the following officials and tell them you see through this smokescreen and that you want real action to take us out of Common Core like pulling out of the Common Core consortium of states, passing HB 25/SB 1316, real data protection that doesn't rely on FERPA, and protection from psychological testing via the assessments:

Governor Rick Scott  (850) 717-9337
Speaker Will Weatherford (850) 717-5038
Senate President Gaetz  (850) 487-5001
Rep. Marlene O'Toole - House K-12 Policy Committee Chairwoman  (850) 717-5033
Rep. Erik Fresen - House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman  (850) 717-5114
Senator John Legg - Senate Education Committee Chairman  (850) 487-5017
Senator Bill Galvano - Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman  (850) 487-5026


Galvano Pulls Senate Bill Intended to Impose Common Core on Private Schools March, 2014

Congratulations! Our warning and your phone calls have combined to help put a major roadblock in Senator Gaetz' plan to impose Common Core tests and therefore the standards on private schools.  As we just reported, the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee defeated an amendment on Mach 18th that would have required voucher students in private schools to take the state tests, which are about to be Common Core tests based on 99.2% of the Common Core (Florida) Standards.  On Thursday, March 20th the  senate author, Bill Galvano (R - Bradenton) pulled the senate bill from consideration in the senate.

Here are his views as reported in the Tampa Tribune:

"The bill has been withdrawn. It's continuing to move in the House, so I guess the issue is still in play in that regard," he said. "On this side, we had a bill we were trying to formulate and get in the right posture ... Not having a comfort level on the framework for the accountability piece, we've withdrawn it from further consideration." (Emphasis added).

"The accountability piece" means the tests, now to be supplied by the psychological testing firm AIR.  We take this as an admission that the effort to require the state Common Core tests was going over like a lead balloon.  Given the political toxicity of Common Core and the news about AIR's history of psychological testing and promoting controversial social issues creating outrage in private schools, and the effect it is having on the governor's re-election campaign, we suspect that Galvano was asked or ordered to pull the bill.

The article reports that "it's unlikely that state lawmakers will expand the [voucher] program during the 2014 legislative session."
This significant delay of the assault on private schools as an escape hatch for students trying to escape Common Core is indeed good news, but we will need to keep vigilant,  Even more importantly, however, we need to do something to protect children in public schools from the academically inferior, psychologically manipulative, and developmentally inappropriate Common Core (Lipstick on a Pig Florida) standards and tests.  That means working on the governor and the legislature  to get hearings on HB 25/SB 1316 or for the governor to get us out of Common Core via executive action.

Thank you and stay tuned!

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!

Stewart Picks CCSS Testing Corp. that Promotes GLBT Issues, Psychologically Profiles Kids & Works for PARCC's Evil Twin March, 2014

As we and others  recently reported, the testing company American Institutes for Research (AIR) was the leading candidate to develop the test to replace the FCAT.  They now have been officially chosen. This test will be fully Common Core aligned and will test Common Core despite the "copy editing,"" tweaks," and "minor" changes that the state now deceitfully calls the "Florida Standards."  AIR is developing the test for the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium (SBAC), who like PARCC is the other federally funded, federally supervised national Common Core testing group of states.  AIR bills itself as "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations"; AIR has also been involved in developing briefs and other information promoting acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle for elementary age school children.

"Commissioner Stewart and the Department of Education have failed Florida.  It is still all Common Core all the time, and the state has chosen a company promoting controversial sexuality and mental health issues to test and profile our children," said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc., and president of Education Liberty Watch.  "The State of Florida is not respecting the intelligence of its parents and citizens.  We are not deceived and not amused at this bait and switch effort.  We now can see that our children will be tested by the company working for PARCC's evil twin, SBAC, and that our children will be psychologically profiled by this company that also promotes very controversial issues.  We know that our children's tests will likely include these types of issues and that the test and other data will go to the state, the federal government, and to corporations.  We also realize that our children have no protection even with the current privacy bills in the legislature that rely on federal law (FERPA), because that law has been completely gutted by the Obama administration via regulation, sidestepping Congress."

"This is completely unacceptable. Besides implementing the same deceptive plan discussed at the governor's summit in August, the state has chosen a company that has a significant history of promoting identification of the GLBT lifestyle for children as young as seven years old, among parents and in churches said Randy Osborne, lobbyist for  Florida Eagle Forum. "The governor and legislature need to listen to the public that is outraged and the grassroots of the Republican Party of Florida who have rejected Common Core repeatedly via resolutions at many levels."

FSCCC, Inc. calls on the governor to use his executive power to pull Florida out of the Common Core memorandum of understanding from the Race to the Top agreement signed by Charlie Crist and develop true academic and developmentally appropriate standards in conjunction with early childhood experts and professors of math and English in Florida's college system that will really give students a broad based knowledge to prepare them to follow any path.  We also call on the legislature to stop funding the unsustainable implementation of Common Core, draft real privacy protection that also prohibits psychological testing in the assessments, and not spread the Common Core cancer to private schools.

Even More Momentum - Three More Co-Sponsors of HB 25 Brings Total to Nine! March, 2014

Congratulations! Your great and diligent work of calling, writing and visiting your legislators is paying off! Another three representatives have signed on to HB 25 by Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach), a bill to pause Common Core!  Please thank via email or phone (contact information is available at the following links) these representatives:

That brings the list to nine.  Please also thank these co-sponsors as well:
Now as the momentum continues to build, we need to pressure the committee chairmen and chairwoman to hear these bills.  Please contact the following legislators and politely, but firmly demand hearings for both HB 25 and SB 1316.

Rep. Marlene O'Toole - House K-12 Policy Committee
Rep. Erik Fresen - House Education Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator John Legg - Senate Education Committee
Senator Bill Galvano - Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee

Do not accept the lies that the minor tweaks, the deceptive name change, removing reference to Common Core in statutes, a different test that is still testing Common Core or a privacy bill that relies on non-existent protection from a gutted federal law have fixed the problems.

Thank you for all you are doing to protect the hearts and minds of our children. 


Photos from the Florida Parent Educators Association Day at the Capital March, 2014

The great crowd

Randy Osborne speaking to the group:

Representative Debbie Mayfield explains the importance to our freedom of getting out of Common Core

Laura Caruso talks about the dangers of Common Core to parental authority:

Dr. Karen Effrem gives an overview of Common Core:

Lobbyists and activists Laura Caruso, Dr. Karen Effrem, Brenda Dickinson, Catherine Baer, and Randy Osborne:

Politico Mentions RPOF Resolution & Reports on CPAC Panel Slamming Common Core - Updated w/Video March, 2014

All those that battle Common Core are making themselves heard.  The influential website Politico mentioned the resolution from the Republican Party of Florida Legislative Affairs Committee that heard and was favorably influenced by Dr. Effrem and FSCCC (See our statement and the resolution text).  Here is Politico's discussion of the resolution:

COMMON CORE FOES FIGHTING HARD: Indiana remains the only state that has taken serious steps to withdraw from the Common Core after a tumultuous year of debate. But foes of the standards elsewhere aren't giving up. They're circulating a resolution passed by the legislative affairs committee of the Florida Republican Party; it calls the notion of common standards "contrary to Republican values and Constitutional authority" and urges the state to pull out. The resolution warns that the standards are so divisive, they make "Republican unification" impossible and could well hurt the party in the fall elections.

They also mention a Common Core panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the great work of the American Principles Project's Emmett McGroarty in opposing these standards:
--In the spotlight at CPAC: The divisiveness argument is likely to surface again at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which starts today. A panel on Common Core is stacked with foes of the standards. And the American Principles Project is calling on all speakers at CPAC to join with "moms and dads" in publicly opposing the Common Core. "Do our political leaders have the courage to speak out against the Common Core, or are they cowards who will run from the fight?" asked Emmett McGroarty, who runs the advocacy group's education division. Full schedule:

This movement continues to gain momentum.  Keep up the great work!

UPDATE: Here is the video of the panel from CPAC:


Three New Co-Sponsors for HB 25! March, 2014

The momentum keeps building! You are doing a fabulous job contacting your representatives! There are 3 new co-sponsors of HB 25 by Rep. Debbie Mayfield for a total of 6! Please THANK Reps. Ray Pilon (Sarasota), Travis Hutson (Elkton), and Matt Caldwell (Lehigh Acres) as well as the earlier co-sponsors, Reps. Charles Van Zant (Keystone Heights), Dane Eagle (Cape Coral), and Doug Broxson (Midway).  To contact your legislators, please go to Thank you and keep up the great work!

Florida Author Gushta Pens Important Series of CCSS Articles for WorldNetDaily and quotes FSCCC March, 2014

In addition to their excellent recent story on the dangers of Common Core data mining, international news website, WorldNetDaily has been doing an in-depth series on the many problems with Common Core.  Authored by Florida educator, author, and researcher Dr. Karen Gushta three articles have been published so far with the fourth set to be released very soon.

In Part 1 - Kids distraught under 'botched' ObamaCore - Gushta show examples of some of the horrific examples of curriculum that are tied to the standards and discussed the origins of the standards from federal program incentives to the states like Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers.  She also interviews or quotes national experts like math expert Ze'ev Wurman, validation committee member and math professor emeritus James Milgram, and English standards expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky. Finally, she discusses the infusion of money from the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.

In Part 2 - Obama program making these people filthy rich:  Only ones 'who are not going to profit and thrive are children' - the author discusses the money trail including the Bush Family, quotes Dr. Effrem's Florida testimony on psychological manipulation in the standards, and interviews other national experts.  Here are some excerpts:

As Common Core-aligned assessments and cross-state data sharing begin collecting and pooling data, and loosened Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations give easier access to this rich mother-load, a number of states is increasingly concerned about the type of data being collected.

Florida has bills in both its House and Senate that would ban collection of biometric and other sensitive data on students. Dr. Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and president of Education Liberty Watch, said her biggest concern is that student psychological data will be collected since the standards include "social-emotional" learning outcomes.
In comments she prepared for the Florida Board of Education on the "Psychological and Developmental Aspects of the Florida's Common Core Standards," Dr. Effrem, who is a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics, referred to a document that clearly states the FedED's intentions to gather psychosocial data on students. The FedED's Office of Technology document, "Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century," states:
[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new [Common Core State Standards Initiative] standards ... A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.
Those who are eager to use these data banks are the companies that are producing Common Core-aligned textbooks and tests. Some, like Neil Bush's Ignite!Learning, are relative newcomers to the lucrative business of educational publishing and testing. Neil Bush (George and Jeb's younger brother) raised $23 million from U.S. investors (including his parents), and at least $3 million from Saudi interests to set up Ignite! The company says it develops "easy-to-use teacher-led digital content based instructional systems" that align to "state, Common Core, and local standards."

Raking in billions of dollars

But the younger Bush's enterprise is small change compared to the multi-billion-dollar enterprise of Pearson PLC. The British multinational publishing and education company headquartered in London reportedly is the largest education company and the largest book publisher in the world. Pearson has moved like gangbusters into the expanding educational testing and textbook market.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute estimates the national cost for Common Core compliance will be between $1 billion to $8 billion, and the profits will go almost directly to publishers. Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson's K-12 division, Pearson School, stated, "It's a really big deal. The Common Core Standards are affecting literally every part of the business we're involved in."

But Cohen is not the driving force of Pearson's School division, which was set up when the company reorganized in May 2013 to accelerate its push into "digital learning, education services, and emerging markets." The person to watch at Pearson is Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to the school division...
...According to Barber, education reform is a "global phenomenon," no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries. Education reform has "no more frontiers, no more barriers," he said at a British Education Summit last August.

Pearson School expects Barber will show it the way forward as it muscles its way into the lead in the Common Core testing and textbook market. It's already received help from Jeb Bush's Chiefs for Change and his Foundation for Excellence, which has received donations from the Pearson Foundation and, in turn, provides its donors, including Pearson, access to the chief state school officers who are members of Bush's CFC club.
In Part 3 - 30 states wage war on 'ObamaCore' - Gushta discusses the name change tactic and the political fight around the country and especially in Florida with Jeb Bush.

The term "Common Core" has become "toxic," according to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He continues to support the standards in spite of a unanimous resolution by the Republican National Committee in April 2013 to oppose them. Huckabee told state education leaders at a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers: "Rebrand it, refocus it, but don't retreat."
So far, Arizona, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania have followed his advice, eliminating the name "Common Core" from their state standards...

...Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been an active advocate of Common Core, not only in Florida but across the country. His nonprofit, Foundation for Educational Excellence, which received $500,000 from the Gates Foundation in 2010, has lobbied for the Core and sent letters to state legislators in embattled states.
Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project, said Jeb Bush "is the 'big gorilla' behind the Common Core movement."

"Bill Gates is the financier, but Jeb Bush is the one who is twisting the arms of all of these Republican governors and legislators around the country not to do the right thing and regain local control," Robbins said.

In 2013, after he was voted out as Indiana school chief, Bush's protégé, Tony Bennett, was appointed Florida's Education Commissioner. His tenure didn't last long. He resigned after eight months when it was discovered he had been involved in a plan to improve the school evaluation grade of an Indiana charter school run by Christel DeHaan, a major donor to the Republican Party and to Bennett.

Now the question is whether Bush's influence in Florida is strong enough to stop efforts there to repeal Common Core. A bill to prohibit the State Board of Education from continuing to implement the Common Core Standards has been introduced in the Florida House, which convenes March 4. The bill (H.B. 25) would stop implementation until certain requirements are met for the adoption or revision of state curricular standards. It also would prohibit Florida from implementing Common Core-aligned assessments.

Common Core supporters are hoping H.B.25 won't go anywhere. It's being held in the House and Senate education committees until a companion bill is offered in the Senate. Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said a Senate companion bill has been written and will be submitted. [This article was written before the Senate companion bill SB 1316 was formally filed.]

Effrem said that since Florida is "the land of Jeb Bush," if these bills pass "it would be a huge shot in the arm to the anti-Common Core movement not only in Florida, but in the rest of the country."

"And that is why 'the powers that be' are fighting us so hard."

These articles make an excellent resource about Common Core and especially the battle in Florida.  We are grateful for the superb work by Dr. Gushta.  Please share them with friends and family. We will post the fourth one when it is available.




FSCCC Statement on RPOF Legislative Affairs Committee Resolution Against Common Core March, 2014

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc. (FSCCC), a grassroots organization of over forty state and national groups representing hundreds of thousands of Florida parents and citizens is very pleased to announce that the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) has unanimously endorsed a resolution in opposition to Common Core and its deceptive new name, The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.

The Legislative Affairs Committee was convened by Chairman Lenny Curry after an overwhelming show of support for the anti-common core resolutions at the January 2014 Annual meeting of the RPOF.  The anti-Common Core resolutions were passed by the State Committeemen/Committeewomen's Caucus and the REC Chairmen's Caucus at the RPOF annual meeting. (See our report here).  The Legislative Affairs Committee met all day on February 22nd and heard information from both sides of the debate, including from Dr. Karen Effrem of FSCCC.  They came to the conclusions in these documents, which were sent to us by numerous people from within the party:

"It was an honor to participate in this fair and impartial discussion of this critically important topic," said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of FSCCC, Inc. We congratulate the committee on their well-reasoned conclusions.  This letter and resolution combined with the filing of a Senate companion to HB 25 and the legislative actions against Common Core across the nation continue to show the cascading momentum against this intrusive, dangerous, and expensive system."

"After reviewing the evidence, it is clear that there are many problems from the constitutional, academic, developmental, expense, and political standpoints with the Common Core system," said Eric Miller, RPOF State Committeeman from Martin County and a member of the committee.  "We look forward to working with Governor Scott and the elected Republicans in the legislature to do the right thing for the children of Florida and for the Republican Party."

Please Thank Senate Co-Sponsors, Work to Get More, and Urge Hearings March, 2014

We are grateful to Senator Alan Hays and Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benaquisto for their co-sponsorship of SB 1316, the companion to Rep, Debbie Mayfield's anti-Common Core bill, HB 25.  We are asking you to thank these co-sponsors, ask your own legislators to co-sponsor these bills and ask for hearings.  Senator Benaquisto is in an especially good position to help on that front. We completely agree with, support, and ask you to join us and FSCCC partner Florida Eagle Forum in the specifics of this effort laid out in this email from them:

Alert: 2.28.14
Great news from the Florida Senate.  Senators Hays and Benacquisto are co-introducers of opposition common core bill SB 1316 introduced by Senator Evers.
Senator Alan Hays has been a known opponent of Common Core Standards, so we are grateful to his co-introduction of our bill.  You may thank Sen. Hays here.
Sen. Benacquisto, on the other hand, has never supported the opponents of Common Core and in 2013 co-sponsored a very questionable bill (SB 1076), signed by the governor, which provides "requirements" for the "transition to common core assessments." See this important story from Shark Tank for details.
Why this sudden change of heart?  Since the Senator is running for Congress in the 19th District where her opponents and a majority of her constituents are against Common Core, could this be a strategic political move and not a real change of heart?  
The Senator is majority leader, an influential position, able to move legislation.  Please help us test Benacquisto's commitment to our children by guaranteeing that SB 1316 will be brought before a committee to be heard.  You may contact the Senator here. The more emails, the better our chance for getting this bill heard.
As always, wear your polite and courteous political hat and please forward to family and friends.
Thank you.

Pat Andrews, President
Florida Eagle Forum


Thank you all VERY much for your active involvement.  Senator Greg Evers has taken the principled, courageous, and bold stand against the cancer that is Common Core.  We have received confirmation from the Senate that he has filed SB 1316 at 9:52 AM, the identical companion to HB 25, the anti-Common Core bill authored by Rep. Debbie Mayfield. Please call and thank him at his District Office: (850) 595-0213 or his Tallahassee Office: (850) 487-5002 for his courageous stand!

Senate President Gaetz Seeks to Impose Common Core on Private Schools February, 2014

Not content with destroying academic education for Florida's public school children by continuing to impose the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards on them, Senate President Don Gaetz, is now setting his sights on 70,000 private school students as well.  Gaetz, who has infamously and derisively mocked the parents and citizens of Florida who oppose Common Core, is determined to require that students who receive vouchers and attend private schools take the public school Common Core aligned tests.  Because private schools do not have the resources to teach voucher students one way and the rest of their students another way, this will effectively mandate Common Core in the private schools that accept vouchers in order to pass these tests.

Here are excerpts from the Orlando Sentinel article declaring Gaetz's intentions:

But one potentially massive shock to the system could be coming on the school-choice front: not the expansion of Florida's school-voucher program, but the idea of requiring the tens of thousands of students receiving them to take similar assessments as their public-school counterparts...But his legislative counterpart, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, wants the testing. And it's a bit of a sore spot...So the voucher expansion this year will have to contain assessments for private-school-voucher students...And Gaetz says he doesn't intend to get rolled again. (Emphasis added).
It seems abundantly clear that Gaetz and his corporate and foundation cronies want no escape from the psychological profiling and workforce training system that is Common Core.  Given Governor Scott's already perilous political situation with Common Core and the public's fury over the deceptive changes in the standards and name made by the department, it would be absolutely foolish to sign such a bill that would potentially alienate the involved, engaged parents of 70,000 private school students and close off a major alternative to Common Core. As Education Liberty Watch has explained, imposing the Common Core tests and therefore the standards on private schools would render the concept of school choice merely an empty shell.

If you wish to express your displeasure to Senator Gaetz, you may do so at:
Tallahassee Office: (850) 487-5001
District Office: (850) 897-5747

If you wish to warn the governor of the folly of signing such a bill, you may contact him as follows:
Phone: (850) 488-7146
Click Here to Email Governor Scott


FSCCC Interviewed on Political Peril for Governor Scott After Sham Standards Changes February, 2014

Alison Neilsen of Sunshine State News did an important story on the potential political dangers to Governor Rick Scott's re-election bid after his education department and appointed state board of education put through the deceptive "lipstick on a pig" standards changes and name change.  Here is an excerpt:

Though the furor has been building over recent months, it hit a crescendo Tuesday, when the state Board of Education voted to approve nearly 100 changes to Common Core -- none of them drastic -- yet only gave opponents two minutes each at the podium. Clearly opponents believed board members had their minds made up and the governor was in league with them. The crowd grew angrier as the meeting progressed.

At one point, a Common Core opponent turned away from the podium and toward a representative from Scott's office, vowing that if the governor didn't't't't oppose the standards, thousands of Floridians would't be giving their vote to him in November.

"If [Gov. Scott] doesn't firmly stand behind this, I guarantee, the conservatives in this state will sit this election out and he won't get the support ... he got last time," he said. The email drive started from there. In an instant, or so it seemed, Common Core opponents were ready to hit politicians where it hurts: the ballot box.

Without their votes, Scott in particular could be in trouble on Election Day.
"I think a lot of people -- parents, teachers, grandparents -- are very concerned about this, and I don't think they're going to take this lying down," said Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. "I think both legislators and the governor [who support Common Core] do so at their own political peril."

Effrem confirmed there was a definite possibility of thousands of voters sitting out or voting down a ticket over Common Core.

Instead of voting for Scott, Effrem also said some may choose to vote for Libertarian Adrien Wylie, who is strongly opposed to Common Core.

"I don't think it'll be a huge wave," she said. "But it could be enough with the polls already close between Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist to cause problems."

Governor Scott has moved to the extent he has on Common Core because he realizes that he is in trouble with his base on this issue.  These efforts so far, however, are disdainful of the intelligence of those voters, without whom he cannot be re-elected.  If the governor wants to win over those one million plus voters in key groups, he, the legislature, and the department of education had better stop the deception and denigration of opponents and really do something substantive about Common Core.


Photos and Coverage of State Board Protest February, 2014

Many media outlets covered the hearing protest and rally.  Thank you to all who attended.  For every one of you that came, there were hundreds or even thousands that wanted to be there but could not.  Here is a sampling of some of the media coverage:

State stands by Common Core education standards

State education leaders stood by Common Core on Tuesday, voting unanimously to keep the controversial academic benchmarks for public schools despite the objections of dozens of opponents.

Protesters carrying signs that read "Stop Common Core" and "Rotten to the Core" held a rally outside the Orange County school district's headquarters, where the State Board of Education met.
They then filed inside and spoke during a sometimes testy, nearly three-hour public hearing, where some compared the standards with the Hitler Youth and communism...

...They also included dropping the name Common Core in favor of "Florida Standards," a broader term that recognizes the state has academic benchmarks in other subjects, too, including science and social studies, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said.

But the name change annoyed critics.

"Changing the name is merely a bait-and-switch," said Karen Effrem of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

The new standards already are in place in the earliest grades and are to be in all grades by next school year. By 2015, Florida also plans to retire most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and replace it with a new series of tests aligned with Common Core.

State Education Board approves Common Core tweaks during heated meeting

Department of Education approves Common Core changes at Orlando meeting
Florida Common Core changes approved despite parent concerns

State Board Tweaks Standards Despite Objections

Here are some of the many excellent photos that were taken at the State Board of Education rally and protest on February 18th:


The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, a statewide organization of over 40 state and national groups representing hundreds of thousands of Floridians, announced a major grassroots campaign in Dr. Karen Effrem's statement at the state board of education meeting.  The board adopted the deceptive and minor Common Core standards changes despite about 80 well-reasoned arguments against the changes and Common Core in general.  The new website will offer ways for Floridians to further engage this critical battle for the hearts and minds of our children.

"We are really pleased to be able to partner with Erika Donalds and the Southwest Florida Citizens' Alliance who has put together this excellent one-stop shop where parent's and citizens can be informed, spread information and take action against what Common Core is doing to our children, our freedom and our nation," said Dr. Karen Effrem, FSCCC co-founder and president of Education Liberty Watch.
"We know that a bold, consistent message from parents and citizens across the state is key to capturing the attention of our legislators. We have come together, on behalf of Florida's children, to influence our representatives in Tallahassee and to Stop Common Core in Florida now," said Erika Donalds, of the Southwest Florida Citizens' Alliance and founder of Parents ROCK.  

Erika Donalds

Full FSCCC Press Statment at State Board of Education Hearing 2/18/14 February, 2014

Good morning, my name is Karen Effrem, I am a wife and mother of three trained as a pediatrician.  I am president of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition a group of over 40 state and national organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Florida citizens.  We are here today to protest the sham changes being made to the Common Core standards.
Removing references to Common Core in statute does not remove   from the Common Core system.

Making cosmetic or what the commissioner herself characterized as "minor changes" does not fix the problems with Common Core.
Not only are these standards untried and unproven as Laura just stated, they are as developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative as before these changes. The federal department of education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and many other organizations and individuals admit that a main purpose of Common Core is to teach and test psychological and behavioral parameters instead of academics.

The commissioner and department ignored much specific documentation by renowned experts about these and other problems with individual standards

Changing the name to the Florida Standards or the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards is merely a bait and switch tactic attempting to ease political pressure from parents and citizens that are outraged at what Common Core is doing to their children, to teachers, and to local control.

All five of the testing companies bidding for Florida's testing contract plus PARCC, of which Florida is still a member, are offering tests that are fully Common Core aligned.  Several of these companies openly admit that they test psychological parameters in their standardized tests.  PARCC is federally funded and supervised.

Those standards were developed by five major architects that never taught in a K-12 classroom, admit they were not qualified, and that these standards are not adequate for a selective four year university.  Two of the nation's greatest Common Core proponents, Bill Gates and Chester Finn, admit the standards are a giant experiment.

Despite the letter from Commissioner Stewart and the 33 other chief state school officers to Arne Duncan, individual student test data will still go to the federal  government as a result of contracts and the weakening of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act via regulation.
In short, nothing has changed.  The people of Florida, especially parents, are not deceived and they are not amused.

The Department spokespeople are saying that the process for dealing with the standards is winding down, but we are here to say that we are just getting started.  We are here today to announce a major campaign with materials, a website landing page and the ability for citizens to call and write their elected officials in one simple fashion at  In addition, we will soon be announcing legislation and events and every other means at our disposal to show that we will not submit our children to this national system with all of its academic and emotional harm.

Even the proponents admit that when people hear the pro and con arguments to common Core, support for Common Core drops substantially.  We are here to say that we will continue to make the opposing arguments.  This, and other polling data shows that politicians who continue to support Common Core will see their support erode.  They need to be aware of this as this election season begins. Thank you.

Sunshine State News Reports on FSCCC Press Release Regarding Deceptive Standards Changes February, 2014

Sunshine State News reporter Allison Neilsen reported on that site's blog about our planned participation in the protest  and press conference on 2/18 as the appointed state board of education likely approves the very minor changes made to the standards in an effort to calm the rising furor over the untested, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards.

Press Release - FSCCC Plans Response as SBOE Adopts Sham Standards Changes February, 2014

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, a grassroots group of over 40 state and national organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Floridians, will participate in the press conference scheduled for 8 AM on February 18th before the appointed State Board of Education votes to adopt the sham changes to the Common Core standards.  FSCCC will have a major announcement in response.

7:30 Rally
8:00 AM Press Conference


Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center
445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando
Free parking across the street with entrance on Concord Ave. 

Dr. Karen Effrem

Dr. Effrem Speaks Out on Utah's "Baby Common Core" Bill February, 2014

Dr. Effrem did an interview on February 13th with Gayle Ruzicka, president of Utah Eagle Forum describing the dangers of early childhood programs that form the "cradle" part of the "cradle to career" continuum of government control and indoctrination of our children pushed through Race to the Top and the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants from the federal government. The podcast of that interview is available for listening and there are many other resources containing information on the lack of effectiveness and harm that these programs cause in the Common Core Nanny State section of this site,

FL Senate Majority Leader & Congressional Candidate Benaquisto Sidesteps Questions About Getting Rid of Common Core February, 2014

Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benaquisto, now a candidate for the congressional seat in District 19 vacated by the resignation of Rep. Trey Radel, did an interview on the Drew Steele Show ( about her candidacy on February 5th.  This state senator, who was endorsed by Jeb Bush during her last election, completely evaded questions about whether she supported getting rid of the Common Core standards system. Instead she played into the deceptive Common Core cover-up game perpetrated by the establishment by talking about "Florida standards, Florida assessments and Florida curriculum."    Here is an excerpt from the Common Core exchange that started at 8:40:

Drew Steele:  "Are you concerned at all with the lessons that are being taught and what's happening nationally, the stories that you hear, to the point that you would be willing to say, 'Listen, I would like to put a stop,' because for me, and you know how I feel about this.  I don't think it's enough.  I would like to see a stop to this.  I don't think we need it here in this state.  Quite frankly, when you are talking about the governor and his re-election, I think it's a positive if he would just get rid of it altogether.  If there are groups that are out there, and there are that say, 'We need to get rid of it completely,' would you back such a group?"

Lizbeth Benaquisto:  "Well, first of all, let me say as a mom with a daughter in public school and a conservative Republican, I do not want President Obama determining the education curriculum that will guide my daughter's educational journey.  We are going to do all that we can to develop Florida standards, Florida assessments, and Florida curriculum that is based in what we feel, on the local level, is best for our children.  And I will continue to fight for that."
There are only two possibilities here.  The first is that the senator is completely clueless about the facts that changing the name, removing references to Common Core in statute, changing or adding a mere 0.8% of the standards, choosing among six fully Common Core aligned tests, and the state being required to send individual student data to the consortium which is required by contract to give it to the federal DOE in no way pulls Florida out of this federal and national system.  The other possibility is that she, like her mentor, Governor Bush, and the foundations and corporations that stand to profit from this system regardless of what it does to our children, is being deceptive and disingenuous.  Neither option reflects very well on a potential member of Congress. 
We will bring you analysis of the statements about Common Core by other candidates for this seat as they become available.

Colonel Allen West Joins Fight Against Common Core in Florida and Nationally February, 2014

Karen R. Effrem, MD
The Constitutional Coalition held its twenty-fifth annual Educational Policy Conference in St. Louis on January 30th February 1st.  I had the honor of attending the event with FSCCC partner Florida Eagle Forum President Pat Andrews, her husband Mark Andrews, fellow FSCCC co-founder and director of Education for Florida Eagle Forum, Randy Osborne and his wife Anne. 

There were many fantastic speakers that included William Korach from St. Augustine and publisher of the Report Card.  He talked about the anti-American bias in the Common Core English standards text exemplars in Appendix B.  Here is a quote from an excellent report on the conference by Drew Zahn of World Net Daily titled "Parents warned: Big Brother owns your children:"
"'This is the end of American exceptionalism. You will not see Alexis de Tocqueville anywhere in these materials,' Korach said. 'There's nothing about the Pilgrims coming to America for religious freedom it's not discussed. ... All they say is the British colonies 'established racial rigid hierarchy.'"

'There's hardly anything at all about the Declaration of Independence, one sentence on it and no explanation. There's one phrase on Washington,' he continued. 'There's none of the ideals motivating the Revolution ... no discussion that we believe our rights come from God and not the Crown ... no mention at all of Thomas Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison or Patrick Henry. ... 'Give me liberty or give me death' it's not there.'"

Perhaps the most powerful speech was the Friday night keynote given by former Florida Congressman, Colonel Allen West who clearly and cogently explained many of the problems with Common Core.  Here are some excerpts from that tremendous address titled "Restoring the Republic:  Restoring Truth and Integrity in American Electoral Politics:"
"We have institutionalized insanity in our schools.  DC bureaucrats believe that educational decisions are best made in DC and are telling parents all across America to butt out of your child's education."

"The ongoing dual purpose of the [US] Department of Education seems to be:
(1)          Don't ever interrupt the money flow from government, rather add to it
(2)          Seize as much decision making power as possible and regulate at every opportunity, for they, not you, are deciding the standards."
"States are fighting tooth and nail against President Obama's newest educational experiment which we all know as Common Core....and Common Core is rotten to the core.  DC bureaucrats believe that education decisions are best made in DC and are telling parents all across America to butt out of your child's education."

"Common Core is a top down national curriculum, the culmination of what the progressives have pushed for many years."
"Common Core is the manifestation of collective progressivism in education---it treats every student exactly the same and does not allow for the gifted student to advance."

"The end game is to establish federal control over what our children learn and effectively remove local control of curriculum."
"Standardization is the enemy of integrity."

"Let's put Common Sense into our curriculum, not Common Core."
During the conference, Colonel West also did an interview with the Report Card, and had a stern warning for Governor Scott and the Republican establishment that seem to be trying to do a stealth implementation of Common Core without really changing anything:

"Colonel West stated: 'If Gov. Scott does not clearly renounce the Common Core for Florida, he WILL lose the upcoming election. The Republican Clubs and the Republican Executive Committees are overwhelmingly opposed to Common Core.'"

Let us all hope that the governor and legislature takes heed and abandons this "Common Core Cover-up." Florida needs a true effort to take Florida out of the Common Core system of national standards, federally funded and controlled national tests, and invasive federal data collection.

Media Coverage - "Common Core clean-up bill leaves foes with 'perception of deception'" February, 2014

As we reported yesterday, the House K-12 Subcommittee met yesterday to vote out a bill that expunges the term "Common Core" from statute in a transparent attempt to diffuse the political backlash that these national standards have caused without really changing them.  Rep. Hunt called it "putting lipstick on a pig" and we concur.

James Call of The Florida Current did another excellent story on yesterday's events quoting Randy Osborne and accurately titling his piece covering the hearing as leaving opponents with a "perception of deception."  Here is an excerpt:

Randy Osborne of the Florida Eagle Forum is a Marion County resident  and attended the meeting with representatives of two other groups working to derail implementation of Common Core. They see the proposed standards which originated with the National Governors Association as a federal attempt to seize control of local schools. 

"Removing reference to Common Core in statute does not remove Florida from the Common Core system," Osborne said. 

"Individual student test data will still go to the federal government as a result of the cooperative agreements. In short, nothing has changed."

As a result of the public hearings and other input from parents, teachers and others, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart proposed 98 additions to the Common Core. The State Board of Education will consider Stewart's proposal at its Feb. 18 meeting. Adkins suggested that meeting could better address Osborne's concerns. Her comments disappointed Osborne. 

"We put legislators in office to do what is in the best interest of the state and they can regulate these kinds of things. It is not acceptable for any organization to try to step aside on an issue such as Common Core," Osborne said.

Here is Mr. Call's photo from the article of Randy Osborne and Catherine Baer, chairwoman of FSCCC partner Tea Party Network at the hearing:

If this bothers you, let your legislators know.


Adkins’ K-12 Subcommittee Deceives Public, Puts Lipstick on a Pig & Shirks Responsibility February, 2014

The House K-12 Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach), met today to vote on a committee bill that strikes about three dozen references to Common Core in state statute and works to change the name to Florida's standards. 
Media coverage about this deceptive tactic started last week with an excellent article by James Call of The Florida Current who compared the move to expunging Winston Smith's life from the public record in Orwell's 1984Allison Neilsen of Sunshine State News also wrote a great article.

Randy Osborne, director of education for coalition partner Florida Eagle Forum; Catherine Baer, chairwoman of coalition partner Tea Party Network; and Meredith Mears, co-founder of FPACC, all gave excellent testimony.  They spoke about how deceptive this maneuver is, how many people across this state and nation oppose Common Core, and that parents are very angry.  (See hearing video starting at 10:00)

Randy also covered the fact that despite assurances from Commissioner Stewart and state chiefs, individual data is still going to the federal government.  (See the analysis by Dr. Karen Effrem and the national statement calling this out signed by eight national and thirty-four state groups in twenty-eight states)

Chairwoman Adkins then proceeded to try to shirk the responsibility of the elected legislators to their constituents to manage the funds and oversee the policy of the Department of Education.  She had the temerity to say that it was only the appointed State Board of Education's responsibility to set the standards and that the committee has no role in the standards policy.  (See video at 20:59).  It was shocking to hear an elected official so totally abdicate her and the committee's role to appointed bureaucrats in the state and federal governments.

Some good statements were made by Representatives Charles Hood (R-Daytona Beach Shores 22:57) and Karen Castor-Dentel (D-Maitland 21:57), expressing concern.  Rep. Hood actually used the phrase "lipstick on a pig." However, no one on the committee actually was willing to stop this pig lipstick application bill, and it passed unanimously. 

This type of dishonest maneuver will only fuel the growing outrage over Common Core.  Legislators who ignore, or worse yet, deceive, their constituents do so at their own political peril

FSCCC Involved in Media Coverage of Deceptive Standards Name Changes February, 2014

Two excellent articles have been written in the last several days showing that the press and the public are not buying the name changes and superficial changes to the standards. Both extensively quoted FSCCC.

James Call of the The Florida Current used a literary illusion to 1984 to illustrate the legislature's transparent attempt to alleviate the pressure from angry constituents:

It's not as Orwellian as making a person's existence disappear from the public record but Winston Smith would recognize the maneuver.  

A Florida House ccommittee on Wednesday will discuss a proposed committee bill that expunges the words "Common Core" from state law.  The K-12 Subcommittee is working on a bill, basically a housekeeping measure, repealing terminated programs and clarifying graduation requirements. It would delete 36 references to the Common Core State Standards in sections 1000.21 to 1008.22 of the Florida Statutes governing public education.

The proposal replaces Common Core with "Next Generation Sunshine State Standards." The measure also removes references to Common Core in the definition of the Next Generation standards.  Florida adopted Common Core academic standards in 2010 and was to implement them this fall.  

"Name changes and cosmetic changes to standards will not pull Florida out of Common Core," said Karen Effrem, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  "We're still going to be in the Common Core system."

Allison Nielsen from Sunshine State News also wrote an important story:

The proposed changes to Common Core represent only a small fraction of the standards. There are about 11,000 standards outlining what students need to know in math and language arts. The 98 proposed changes to Common Core, if approved, would equal 0.8 percent of the total standards.

"The rebranding is deceptive, not good," Dr. Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition told Sunshine State News. "They are trying to get rid of the political toxicity related to Common Core, but have no intention of really changing [the standards]." 

For Effrem and other anti-Common Core groups, the rebranding effort overlooks the testing portion of the standards, which they say is the true issue at hand with regard to data mining and privacy concerns.

"The test companies vying for the state contract are all fully aligned to Common Core," said Effrem.  "The data still goes to the feds. Nothing has changed."

In January, FSCCC spoke out on potential issues with the standards and a new assessment test. 

"These tests are either going to be the federally funded and supervised PARCC or SBAC tests or some other Common Core-aligned national test," the group wrote. "Individual student test scores will be combined with highly personal student and family data to create academic and psychological profiles of students that will be available to the federal government, researchers, and corporations due to the weakening of the federal student privacy law."

The Common Core standards, tests and data collection will likely dominate the legislature, at least in education.  

FSCCC Participates in Major National Statement Regarding Deceptive Data Letter to Duncan January, 2014

We the undersigned organizations, representing millions of families and teachers across the nation, issue the following statement in response to the January 23rd, 2014 letter by thirty-four chief state school officers, including Florida Commissioner Pam Stewart, to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding student data privacy:

This letter is their attempt to reassure the public that individual student data would not be given to the federal government by the states in the federal testing consortia, that there is a prohibition on the creation of a national database,  and that states will be in control of student assessment data.
Unfortunately, none of that is true.  As is shown in the formal response to this letter by Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, the assurances in this letter are essentially meaningless.  Current federal law and regulations, the cooperative agreement between the national testing consortia and the federal government, and statements in federal reports all show that the federal government will receive individual student data one way or the other.
"The letter is deceptive," said Effrem.  "The states may not give the individual student test data to the federal government, but the cooperative agreement and the federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations require or allow the consortia to give individual test and other student data to the feds without consent."
"This is just a bait and switch effort meant to appease worried parents and politicians that are feeling the heat from angry constituents," agreed Angela Davidson Weinzinger, founder of Parents and Educators Against Common Core.
As state and national grassroots organizations opposed to the implementation of the Common Core system of federally supported or controlled national standards, tests, and data collection that will be destructive to our children's future and our nation's freedom, we concur with this analysis.
The only way to truly protect our children's data is to restore local control of education that has been usurped by the unconstitutional presence and actions of the US Department of Education.  Until that ultimate goal is reached, we will work to remove each of our states from the state longitudinal data systems and demand genuine state developed standards and assessments, instead of name changes, cosmetic adjustments to the Common Core standards, and deceptive reassurances about state control of test data.

Education Liberty Watch
*Advocates for Academic Freedom
Badass Parents Association
Badass Teachers Association
Home School Legal Defense Association
Parent-Led Reform
Parents and Educators Against Common Core
Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Alabama Eagle Forum
Alabamians United for Excellence in Education
Arkansas Against Common Core
Core Concerns, Fort Collins
Stop Common Core in CT
Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
Florida Parents Against Common Core
Georgians to Stop Common Core
Idahoans for Local Education
Iowans for Local Control
Kansans Against Common Core
Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards in Kentucky
MA Parents Interested in Common Core
Massachusetts Coalition for Superior Education Standards
Stop Common Core in Michigan
Minnesotans Against Common Core
Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
Parent Led Reform Nevada
*Stop Common Core Nevada
C5-NJ (the Committee to Combat the Common Core Curriculum-NJ)
NM Refuse the Tests
Stop Common Core in New York State
*Stop Common Core in North Dakota
Parent Led Reform Oregon
*Parents Involved in Education
South Dakotans Against Common Core
*Tennessee Against Common Core
*Tennessee Eagle Forum
Parent Led Reform Texas
*Texas Eagle Forum
*Utahns Against Common Core
*Utah Eagle Forum
Stop Common Core in Virginia
Washington State Against Common Core Standards
*West Virginia Against Common Core
 Wyoming Freedom in Education

This statement continues to garner support around the nation. An * indicates organizations that signed on after this statement was first released.

Activists Concerned About Common Core at Rally and Forum in Melbourne January, 2014

Approximately 150 people attended a rally against and a forum about Common Core in Melbourne on January 27th.  The forum panel consisted of Representative Debbie Mayfield, (R-Indian River), author of HB 25, a bill to pause implementation of Common Core.  Also on the panel were strategist Randy Osborne of Acclaim Strategies and Florida Eagle Forum, and Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of FSCCC.

Here are some excerpts from coverage by Florida Today of the well-attended event  hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus of East Central Florida, led by Chairman Bob White:

Forum speakers included Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, who filed legislation that would halt implementation of Common Core until certain requirements are met, such as additional public hearings and a financial study.

In addition, the event served as an overview, with short videos explaining the types of lessons being developed and used in other states, and speakers raising concerns about the new exams being developed to test students' knowledge."It is creating incredible amounts of stress" in children, said Dr. Karen Effrem of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition of states already implementing the new tests. "They had to figure out what to do with the tests that were thrown up on, it's creating that much of a problem."

Local representative John Tobia (R-Melbourne Beach) also attended and is becoming more aware of the concerns:

John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, attended the event, and said he's been meeting with residents about their thoughts. Three years ago, he did not get one phone call or email on the issue. But now, it's become a concern that surpasses even government spending, he said."If we made a mistake, we certainly need to correct that, as expeditious and fair a manner as possible," Tobia said.

FSCCC is grateful to the organizers and attendees of this evening.

Photo Credit: Florida Today

Major Media Outlets Writing Stories About Common Core Linked Data Mining and Psychological Manipulation January, 2014

WorldNetDaily, the major national and international website did an in-depth article about the dangerous Common Core linked psychological manipulation and data mining.  They interviewed Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch,  and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project.  Here are some excerpts:

Dr. Karen Effrem, president of the national watchdog group, Education Liberty Watch, is sounding an alarm about Common Core, the federal education standards that almost all states are adopting by accepting federal "Race to the Top" funding.
Under Common Core, Effrem said, students' personal information increasingly is being collected, measured and assessed while the standards shift the focus away from academics and toward psychological training and testing of personal attitudes and behaviors.
Jane Robbins, senior fellow with the American Principles Project and a Common Core expert, shares Effrem's concerns.
She said an agreement between a group that develops the Common Core tests and the DOE requires the consortium to give the DOE "complete access to any and all data collected at the state level."
Robbins said parents will not be notified if personal information about their children is released, nor will they be told who gets it
The issue of psychological manipulation, testing, and data collection was also presented:

Effrem said many Common Core standards and assessments will be used to collect data that go beyond academics to focus on student's psychological attitudes, values and beliefs.
She points to documents from the National School Boards Association, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the U.S. Department of Education that promote teaching children beyond academics to focus on "non-cognitive" "21st Century skills" that include the disposition, social skills and behavior of children.
"Various elements of SEL can be found in nearly every state's K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts," states the National Association of State Boards of Education in an October 2013 paper, "From Practice to Policy."
SEL (social emotional learning) is also starting to be incorporated in federal policies and initiatives, such as the Race to the Top, according to a 2013 CASEL report, "The Missing Piece, How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools."
Effrem said many Common Core standards and assessments will be used to collect data that go beyond academics to focus on student's psychological attitudes, values and beliefs.
She points to documents from the National School Boards Association, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the U.S. Department of Education that promote teaching children beyond academics to focus on "non-cognitive" "21st Century skills" that include the disposition, social skills and behavior of children.
"Various elements of SEL can be found in nearly every state's K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts," states the National Association of State Boards of Education in an October 2013 paper, "From Practice to Policy."
SEL (social emotional learning) is also starting to be incorporated in federal policies and initiatives, such as the Race to the Top, according to a 2013 CASEL report, "The Missing Piece, How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools."
The post also discussed how school districts are monitoring students' movements and photographing them through district issued computers and iPads:
At least one school district has spied on students using school-issued laptops as revealed in a 2010 class action lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District in Philadelphia, Pa.  There, remote webcam spying was revealed after district officials attempted to punish then 15-year-old Blake Robbins for behavior in his bedroom.  The district admitted it gave students laptops they could use at home that included webcams that could be activated remotely by district personnel to spy on students. Through the suit, it was revealed that two high schools in the district had secretly snapped 66,000 images.
Another student filed a separate lawsuit against the district after he discovered his school-issued laptop had been used to capture over 1,000 photos and screenshots without his knowledge.
These days, many districts have graduated to more portable products, like iPads, to give students.  A concerned father in Farmington, Minn., said the iPad initiative has resulted in district officials frequently examining the equipment that many also use at home.

Another national blog called INQUISTR did a story linking the WorldNetDaily article and also quoting an important Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) paper on student data privacy that said:
"Over the past decade, a slew of new federal incentives and federally funded data models have spurred states to monitor students' early years, performance in college, and success in the workforce by following individuals systematically and efficiently across state lines. We believe that this expansion of state databases is laying the foundation for a national database filled with personal student data. We believe that it would threaten the privacy of students, be susceptible to abuse by government officials or business interests, and jeopardize student safety. We believe that detailed data systems are not necessary to educate young people. Education should not be an Orwellian attempt to track students from preschool through assimilation into the workforce."
Much needs to be done to protect student data privacy on the state and federal levels.  This will be an ongoing issue in 2014.

FSCCC Statement on the Common Core Standards Changes and Rebranding Efforts January, 2014

Commissioner Pam Stewart will be presenting the cosmetic changes for the Common Core standards to the State Board of Education today in Miami Lakes. However, tweaks and name changes will not remove Florida from this oppressive takeover of that which is to be left to the states and the people.  The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition opposes the effort by the Florida Department of Education and the State Board of Education to override the will of hundreds of thousands of Floridians that want to protect their children from this massive takeover of our education system.    As our analysis shows, it is abundantly clear even to the press that the changes to the standards are "minor" and that the rebranding of the Common Core standards to "Florida's Standards" is politically motivated.  The commissioner has testified to the Senate Education Committee that the copyright limitations are immaterial and that the changes are so insignificant that they will not affect curriculum which is required to be Common Core aligned nor the assessments. The testing, however, is the heart of the issue.  The tests are the enforcement mechanism of these national  curriculum standards.  These tests are either going to be the federally funded and supervised PARCC or SBAC tests or some other Common Core aligned national test.  Individual student test scores will be combined with highly personal student and family data to create academic and psychological profiles of students that will be available to the federal government, researchers, and corporations due to the weakening of the federal student privacy law  (FERPA).  The test scores and resulting profile will follow a student for life and will determine grade advancement, graduation, teacher pay and tenure, and district funding.

We urge our supporters to contact Governor Scott at (850) 717-9337 or by email, as well as their representatives and senators and let them know that these bait and switch tactics are unacceptable.  Florida must pull out of the Common Core system and protect the academic future and privacy of our children by developing true Florida standards and tests and pulling out of the federally linked state longitudinal data systems.

Name Changes and Minor Revisions Do Not Remove Florida from Common Core System January, 2014

Commissioner Stewart and the Florida Department of Education released the long awaited revisions to the Common Core standards on January 13th just hours before two thirty minute public conference calls/workshops.  The standards revisions and conference call recordings may be accessed on the Governor's summit page buried deep within the DOE website.

The link for comments is hidden on a different webpage having to do with the rulemaking involved with the standards and there is no clear deadline as to whether the comments have to be in.  Is it by the time the commissioner presents the proposed changes to the State Board of Education on January 21st or when the board votes on them on February 18th? This seems to be more evidence that public comment is not really wanted.

While the department is to be commended for adding cursive writing back to the standards, Commissioner Stewart admitted before the Senate Education Committee that the changes are minor. Pam Stewart said, "With the total, spread over K-12, of being 40-some changes, I don't think would have a serious impact on each grade level"

The press has noted that the changes are merely cosmetic.  John O'Connor of State Impact titled his article, Despite Changes, Florida Still Keeping The Core of Common Standards, and calls the changes "copy editing."

Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog also brings up the concern that FSCCC has raised about the copyright issue, noting the 15% rule and the questions brought up by the Council of 100.  In her January 8th senate testimony Pam Stewart mentioned a letter which she has been referencing since October but has yet to produce from the Council of Chief State School Officers saying that Florida is not bound by the 15% rule.  However, an official from Achieve gets to the crux of the issue: 

Colby says that's not quite right -- states can make subtractions and changes. But they do so at their own peril, as common assessments being developed by two national consortia test the Common Core as it's written. (Emphasis added.)
The press is also finally picking up on the idea that changing the name to "Florida's Standards" is just a game of semantics and how the legislature is trying to remove references to Common Core in statute.  WFSU discusses the issue in one article and here is an excerpt from another State Impact article:
Porter-Magee said Scott was debating semantics about whether the standards were Common Core or not... Still, Scott, legislative leaders and others have been referring to "the Florida Standards." And House lawmakers have introduced a bill which would delete dozens of references to "Common Core."
"It might be a more politically motivated decision to brand them that way," Hyslop said. (Emphasis added.)

McGrory  quoted Marion County GOP Chairman Randy Osborne, who led the fight against Common Core at the RPOF meeting in Orlando, in a Tampa Bay Times piece about the establishment's  bait and switch tactic of calling Common Core "Florida's Standards:"
But Randy Osborne, a political consultant and co-founder of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said he would continue to advocate for sweeping changes.  "We need to do more than change the name," he said.

Please stay tuned and get ready to let the governor and legislature know that these deceptive tactics are not acceptable.


FSCCC & Activists Speak Out Against "Minor" Common Core Changes January, 2014

FSCCC, as well as grassroots Republican leaders have been making important statements this week in the press about the Florida Department of Education's admission regarding how minor the changes in the standards really are and the effort to change the name from Common Core to Florida's Standards.  Here is a sampling of the media coverage of the standards revision release and the reaction to it:

Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog quoted Marion County GOP Chairman Randy Osborne and Martin County GOP Committeeman, both of whom have courageously stood up to the party establishment on Common Core as follows:
"We must pull out of it completely, get out of the system," said Randy Osborne, a political consultant and co-founder of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.
Said Martin County Republican Committeeman Eric D. Miller Tuesday: "As an elected Republican Leader, I will do all in my power to aid in this effort so we can finally eradicate Common Core and its like from our State."

John O'Connor of State Impact interviewed Dr. Effrem regarding her concerns:
Karen Effrem is with the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and Education Liberty Watch. Effrem had yet to study the recommended changes, but said Stewart had already said the changes were "minor."
 "It's really not going to change much," she said. "From the way it sounds, I'm skeptical."
Effrem's group wants the state to repeal the standards. They're concerned the standards don't set high enough goals in math, limit local control over curriculum and are tied to federally-funded standardized tests.

The influential national Breitbart blog also mentioned FSCCC and other Florida activists:
There are parents and residents who are not happy with him or the education boards after the changes were revealed. Karen Effrem from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and Education Liberty Watch said the standards will not make much of a difference. Laura Zorc, founder of a group against Common Core, said all they did was add standards.

Dr. Effrem Testifies Against CCSS Before the Missouri State Board of Education January, 2014

Dr. Karen Effrem testified on January 14th to the Missouri State Board of Education about the developmental inappropriateness and psychological manipulation and testing of the Common Core standards.  This was previously scheduled weeks before the hurried announcement of the Common Core public hearings that took place only a few hours after the release of the minor and cosmetic changes to Florida's Common Core nightmare.

St. Louis Public Radio covered the testimony that also included excellent testimony by Dr. Mary Byrne, a brilliant and dedicated special education teacher and leader of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core also testifying against the standards and Cheryl Oldham of the Chamber of Commerce offering the same tired talking points without data about why Common Core should be fully implemented. Here are some excerpts from the article:

In her side's one-hour session, Byrne argued against implementation of the standards primarily on procedural grounds. She contended they did not align with the purpose of education according to the Missouri Constitution; they were not really developed by the states; they jeopardize the quality of education in Missouri; and they were not properly vetted according to Missouri law.

Karen Effrem, a pediatrician who heads a group known as Education Liberty Watch...argued that the standards ask too much of young children and too little of older ones, creating a level of stress that isn't necessary.

"We're turning five- and six-year-olds into good little corporate board members," Effrem said.

She said the emphasis on skills that students are too young to have can lead to symptoms such as avoiding schools, insomnia, panic attacks and self-mutilation.

"It is turning teachers who do not necessarily have training in psychology essentially into psychologists," she told the board, "and that could be potentially dangerous because these assessments will go into child's record and essentially follow them for life."

The board was appreciative of the testimony, eager to review the extensive written material provided to them by the opponents, and asked thoughtful questions.  Many thanks go to retiring board member Debbi Demien for her great work in arranging the testimony, Dr. Byrne for excellent testimony, and the support of the many Missouri activists that arranged the trip and came to support the event.


Questions on Governor Scott's RPOF Speech on Common Core January, 2014

Governor Scott in his speech at the Republican Party of Florida Annual meeting acknowledged that there is "passion" about Common Core.  He made the following assurances with our questions below each one:

  1. "Here's what we're going to assure: These are Florida standards, not some national standards put on Florida students. These are our standards."
Does this mean merely that the words "Common Core" will be removed from statute, the process of which was begun in the House K-12 Education Subcommittee on January 9th?
Are the people of Florida going to get real substantive changes to the standards to be unveiled on January 13th with only one day before a public hearing or just a few superficial changes that Florida could have done in 2010,  leaving the bulk of the standards in place that will still align to one of the federally funded and controlled or national Common Core tests?
How will Florida deal with the copyright issue?
  1. The governor said there would also be a "'data-security bill' to make sure there is no unnecessary information collected from our students."
Will there be actual data security or will it be a deceptive attempt to pass the data mining bill from last session, authored and heavily lobbied by Jeb Bush's foundation or just rely on the severely weakened federal law FERPA?
  1. Governor Scott also said, "We also have legislation that codifies that curriculum is to be controlled locally. I believe we're headed in the right direction."
Does this mean that the state will no longer do statewide textbook adoption which currently requires curriculum to be Common Core aligned?

These and many other questions must be answered before we will know whether Florida will be rid of the Common Core albatross or if this is another bait and switch tactic.

FL GOP Grassroots Rebel Over Common Core While Leadership Suppresses Final Vote January, 2014

The Florida GOP grassroots rebellion against Common Core continued and intensified at the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) annual meeting in Orlando over the weekend.  Thanks to the great efforts of Randy Osborne, Marion County chairman of the Republican Executive Committee (REC), Bill Paterson, St. Lucie County chairman, Representative Debbie Mayfield and activists all over the state, two important resolutions against Common Core were passed.  Despite numerous poor arguments and parliamentary efforts to table or otherwise suppress them, both the REC chairman's caucus and the state committeeman/committeewoman's caucus passed them by commanding majorities. 

Unfortunately, the party leadership cared not a whit about the sentiments of the representatives of GOP activists that make up the heart and soul of the Republican Party in Florida.  Chairman Lenny Curry would not allow a vote by the full executive board or during the general meeting on the resolutions.  Instead, he deep-sixed them in the legislative committee.  Although he said, "I'm going to make sure the party's legislative affairs committee works with the Legislature," given that the membership of that committee is unknown and Curry's past record of suppressing dissent, we see it is far more likely that nothing will be done about the issue until the next meeting of the RPOF in May AFTER the legislative session.

The rules committee meeting was closed on Friday apparently to be able to discuss how to prevent the resolutions from going anywhere or to block any efforts to bring them up in the executive committee on Saturday.  Activists were left to chant outside the room, "Stop Common Core! Open the Door!"  There was such fear and trembling about any discussion on Common Core or efforts to pass a resolution in the general annual meeting on Saturday, not a single vote on any issue was allowed.  Instead, the members were subjected to three hours of long-winded speeches.  These pronouncements from on high included the absurd notion that the party is only there to elect Republicans and not to take any positions on issues.  Both Governor Scott and Senator Tom Lee, while trying to say that they have heard the concerns about Common Core, then proceeded to refer people with questions or concerns to the very same elected officials and bureaucrats that have ridiculed or ignored the cries of the citizens against this monstrosity. These include state school board member John Colon who first came to one of Dr. Effrem's presentations and wouldn't even identify himself or his position and couldn't even defend the standards. Later in the summer, he called people that opposed Common Core "whackos" and "crazy" during an RPOF conference call.  Senator Lee extolled the virtues of Senate President Don Gaetz as someone who "really cares about education," conveniently forgetting that Gaetz was quoted as saying:

"You can't dip them in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama's face," Gaetz said. "They're not some federal conspiracy."

And Lenny Curry, after his thuggish tactics at the last RPOF quarterly meeting and all his suppression of the grassroots at this most recent meeting, actually had the audacity to say, "The resolution by the committee members is not the voice of the Republican Party of Florida."   The only reason it is not the voice of the RPOF is because he would not let come up for a vote.  With friends and leaders like that, who needs enemies?

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