Anti-Common Core Congressman Ron DeSantis Enters Race to Replace Senator Rubio

May, 2015

Congressman Ron DeSantis (FL-6) threw his hat in the ring this past week for the Republican nomination to replace US Senator Marco Rubio who is running for president. A former JAG attorney for the US Navy and an Iraq War veteran elected in 2012, DeSantis is chairman of the National Security subcommittee of the Oversight and Investigations Committee. 

He has been fighting to reduce the size of the federal government in several areas, including education like Rubio, has been strongly anti-Common Core.  He has co-sponsored HR 524, sponsored by Education and Workforce Committee member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Florida Republican Reps. Curt Clawson, Tom Rooney, and Ted Yoho,  as well as 43 others.  This language prevents the Secretary of Education from "incentivizing" or "coercing" national standards like Common Core or and national test like SBAC or PARCC in any federal law or program like NCLB waivers.  Although it won't repeal the standards or tests, it is important for preventing future disasters like Common Core.

In addition, DeSantis has co-sponsored HR 121, the LEARN Act, which stands for Local Education Authority Returns Now and is sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ).  It is the best alternative to the No Child Left Behind reauthorizations that we have seen.  Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute wrote the following about it:

Short of outright eliminating the federal schooling leviathan, there is one proposal worth looking at: the Local Education Authority Returns Now Act (LEARN) from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), which would let states declare they'll run their own education systems, then let state taxpayers keep the money Washington would have used to "help" them in education. It would sever the cord Washington has around states to make them do its bidding--tax dollars their citizens had no choice about paying--and reward their taxpayers directly.
What about the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (APLUS), which is a Heritage Foundation-backed piece of legislation? It is better than the status quo or main House GOP bill, but it contains two major, unacceptable provisions:
  1. A requirement that the U.S. secretary of education approve state requests to control consolidated funding.
  2. A continued requirement that each state have a single set of standards, tests, and "proficiency" goals. 
Essentially, it's the same basic shell as No Child Left Behind, only with more state autonomy over spending. That's not good enough.
His potential Republican challenger, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, on the other had, is extremely supportive of Common Core and of Jeb Bush, often mentioning him on the Senate floor in hushed reverence while disdaining and mocking any opponents of Common Core or Jeb Bush's corporate crony testing scheme.  His most infamous rant was this statement:

"You can't dip them [the Common Core standards] 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."

Gaetz, as this year's chairman of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee most likely was also involved in diluting the excellent amendment by Senator Alan Hays to require that students, teachers, and schools be held harmless until independent verification of the FSA by a national organization to the confusing, unhelpful mess that passed in the testing law.

The primary contest would be very interesting should Senator Gaetz enter it, given Gaetz's pro-Common Core stand, his very controversial involvement in an adoption reform bill that has no conscience protection for faith based agencies and his support for expanding Medicaid using the expensive, ineffective, and privacy challenged Obamacare exchanges.


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