Dr. Effrem Interviewed by Inside Sources on Passage of ESSA December, 2015

David Eldridge of of the national website Inside Sources interviewed Dr. Effrem on her views of the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in his article titled: How the New Education Bill Will Impact the Common Core Debate

"It's a horrifically bad bill," said Karen Effrem, executive director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

The Port Charlotte, Fla., activist told InsideSources on Thursday the ESSA is nothing more than the latest attempt to "rebrand" federal standards: "I think a lot of people drank the Kool-Aid that this bill devolves federal power down to the states and thought they were doing a good thing."

Statement on the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act December, 2015

The following statement was released by Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and the executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and Randy Osborne, director of education for Heartland Research and Florida Eagle Forum, on the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act:
The president and Congress have chosen to give the parents of Florida and America a huge lump of educational coal this Christmas by enacting the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Despite this lopsided vote against the Constitution and parental rights, we are deeply grateful to the Republican members of Congress that voted to protect children from the tyrannical government intrusions in this bill. The wisdom of those twelve senators and sixty-four House members (in Florida - Reps. Curt Clawson, Ron DeSantis, Jeff Miller, and Ted Yoho) as with those who had the foresight to vote against No Child Left Behind in 2001, will be prescient. We are incredibly disappointed in the wholesale sellout of our children to Big Government, Big Corporations, and Big Data by the legislators of both parties.  
We also thank presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for their steadfast opposition to the ESSA. Support of this disastrous bill by presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Linsdsey Graham, Bernie Sanders, and the failure of Marco Rubio to be involved in final deliberations for this incredibly important federal legislation will certainly not help their cause among this very active and engaged grassroots voting block. Parents, who are desperately seeking to protect their children from the terrible Common Core system of inferior and manipulative standards, psychologically profiling assessments and invasive data mining, want a candidate that will fight to slay the federal leviathan, not feed it or ignore it.
Sadly, on the day before the Senate vote, the Obama administration was already giving more than 200 parent and citizen groups in 46 states plenty of ammunition to say, "We told you so."  According to state legislators meeting with US DOE chief of staff Emma Vadehra, the law now embeds "College and Career Ready Standards (the other name for Common Core) and because of the way the law is written, US DOE "does not expect any states to get away from the standards." Vadehra also admitted the bill "solidifies the Department's plans for full pre-K expansion." 
Any bill longer than No Child Left Behind that this president was giddy to sign, that received 100% support from the big government party of Congress, and that was endorsed by the owners of Common Core's copyright and other proponents, does not "end the Common Core mandate" or protect parental rights. Our allegedly conservative Republican leadership has chained our children to expanded federal government control of education.  This is a day that will not be forgotten by the parents of this nation.   

Senate Passes ESSA December, 2015

Using rhetoric eerily similar that for the failed No Child Left Behind Act, the US Senate voted to pass the 1061 page behemoth, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The complete language of this disastrous bill was only available for days before the final vote. The vote was 85-12.  We are grateful to the following senators, who had the wise foresight to vote against this bill that, despite much propaganda about the "end of the Common Core mandate," actually enshrines standards like Common Core. (full roll call)):

Blount (MO), Crapo (ID), Daines (MT), Flake (AZ), Lee (UT), Moran (KS), Paul (KY), Risch (ID), Sasse (NE), Scott (SC), Shelby (AL), Vitter (LA)  

Presidential candidate Rand Paul voted against the bill, while Senator Graham voted for it and Senators Cruz, Rubio, and Sanders did not vote on final passage, but Cruz voted yesterday against advancing the bill to final passage and issued a statement today affirming his opposition to it.  Sanders' statement from 12/7 indicates he would have supported the bill if present.  Although Rubio should be thanked for voting against the Senate bill in July, his lack of involvement in final deliberations for this very important bill may need to be viewed in light of significant pro-Common Core contributions by Bill Gates and Paul Singer

We also appreciate the one floor speech in opposition in all of Congress that was offered or allowed in debate for the final bill by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT):


That this bill cements Common Core and that the prohibitions against overreach by the secretary of education are false and irrelevant, as well as the expansion of horrific preschool programs, was not just the opinion of more than 200 parent groups and experts in 46 states. This was confirmed yesterday by an Obama administration education official as reported by a state legislator attending a meeting where this bill was discussed:

According to Emma Vadehra, Chief of Staff, US Dept of Education, this bill will embed "college and career ready standards" or as we know, Common Core©. They do not expect any states to get away from the standards. It also solidifies the Department's plans for full preK expansion.  It was also stated that the preK grants were significant in moving the ball and that states are on the hook financially as well.  The DoE is giddy with excitement at the impending passage of ESSA.

The president plans to sign the bill into law tomorrow. Here is a news flash for the allegedly "conservative" members of Congress who voted for this bill.  Any bill longer than No Child Left Behind that this presdient is giddy to sign, that received 100% support from the big government party of Congress, that was endorsed by the owners of Common Core's copyright and other proponents, probably does not "end the Common Core mandate" or protect parental rights!

As Senate Votes to Sell Out Our Children, Obama Ed. Official Gloats Over ESEA's Cementing of Common Core December, 2015

Hat tip to Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project for sending this information verifying the contention of us in more than 200 parent and citizen anti-Common Core groups across the nation, that ESEA absolutely continues and cements  Common Core under the name "College and Career Ready Standards" making the Secretary's action or inaction allegedly prohibited by the bill completely irrelevant.  They also bragged about the big government preschool program about which we have repeatedly warned.  You have about an hour to make one last phone call to 202-224-3121.

A state legislator from another state is visiting DC this week for meetings of state legislators who chair education committees. Yesterday they had a meeting at the US Department of Education, and obviously the topic of the No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill (ESSA) came up. This is what the USED official said:

According to Emma Vadehra, Chief of Staff, US Dept of Education, this bill will embed "college and career ready standards" or as we know, Common Core©. They do not expect any states to get away from the standards. It also solidifies the Department's plans for full preK expansion.  It was also stated that the preK grants were significant in moving the ball and that states are on the hook financially as well.  The DoE is giddy with excitement at the impending passage of ESSA.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is  the bill our "conservative" senators are going to vote for this morning.
As with No Child Left Behind, the wise minority that vote against this bill will turn out to be prescient and our children and teachers sold out to Big government, Big Corporations, and Big Data will suffer even more than under No Child Left Behind.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) Gives Only Speech Allowed in Congress Against ESSA/ESEA December, 2015

Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) provided a refreshing contrast to the congressional leadership and media controlled propaganda being spewed about the Every Student Succeeds Act about to be passed in the Senate tomorrow.  He plainly stated the many problems with this legislation and the entire federal education leviathan.  To our knowledge it is the only speech in either chamber that was allowed or offered against this horrific legislation.  We are grateful.  As the terrible tyranny of this bill becomes apparent and all of the platitudes about the false and hollow promises of the "largest devolution of federal power in 25 years" and the "end of Common Core" are shown to be untrue along with the destructive federal control of preschool and the ineffective and invasive "parent replacement centers" of the 21st Century School program, we hope and pray there are many more in Congress that join him and the other one to two dozen that will vote against it:

 Here is a transcript of his prepared remarks:

Mr. President, later today the Senate will vote on the "Every Student Succeeds Act" a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is the legislation governing federal K-12 education policy.
By all accounts, the Senate is expected to pass this bill, with a bipartisan majority, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
This would be a serious setback for America's schools, teachers, and students, one that will have sweeping consequences for decades to come... because when we get education policy wrong as this bill does and as we have for so many years it affects not just the quality of education students receives as children, but the quality of life available to them as adults.
The problem is not just the particular provisions of this bill, but the dysfunctional and outdated model of education on which it's built a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, instead of parents, teachers, principals, and local school boards.
For the past 50 years, this model has defined and guided the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the bill before us today is no exception.
Not coincidentally, this central-planning model has also failed to produce any meaningful improvements in academic achievement especially for students from low-income communities.  
In fact, since 1969, test scores in reading and math have hardly budged for public school students of all ages even while per-pupil spending has nearly doubled and school staff has increased more than 80 percent.  
And yet, here we are: once again on the verge of passing another ESEA reauthorization built on the same K-12 education model that has trapped so many kids in failing schools and confined America's education system to a state of stagnant mediocrity for half a century.
This is not simply a failure of policy it's a failure of imagination.
Our 1960s-era, top-down model of elementary and secondary schooling has endured, essentially unchallenged, for so many decades that the education establishment has come to take it for granted. For many policymakers and education officials in Washington and in state capitals around the country, the status quo isn't just seen as the best way but as the only way to design K-12 education policy today.
Even the most creative policy thinking is confined within the narrow boundaries of the centrally planned status quo.
The only reform proposals that are given the time of day are those that seek to standardize America's classrooms, enforce uniformity across school districts, and systematize the way that teachers teach and the way that students learn.
So we insist that the most important teaching decisions about what to teach, when to teach it, and how to assess learning are made by individuals outside of the classroom and are uniformly applied, and reapplied, regardless of the particular character and composition of a class.
We expect students of the same age to progress through the curriculum and master each subject at the exact same pace.
We assign students to their school according to zip codes.
We allocate public education funds to education agencies and schools never directly to parents and manage their use through bureaucratic restrictions and mandates.
We evaluate teachers and determine their compensation not on the basis their performance, but according to standards that can be quantified, like the number of years on the job. Student learning is assessed in much the same way using standardized tests and age-based benchmarks.
And we never let stagnant educational outcomes or a persistent achievement gap shake our faith in the ability of central planners to engineer and superintend the education of the tens of millions of students in America.
These are the fundamental pillars of the status quo model for elementary and secondary education. And the Every Student Succeeds Act leaves them wholly intact.
But schools are not factories; education can't be systematized; learning can't be centrally planned.
Good teachers are successful not because they're following some magic formula concocted by "experts" in Washington, but because they do what good teachers everywhere have always done: they work harder than just about anyone, and they know their class material inside and out; they communicate early and often with each students' parents, so that they, and their students, can be held accountable; they observe and listen to their students, in order to understand their unique learning needs and goals, and tailor each day's lesson plans accordingly; and they evaluate students honestly and comprehensively, assessing whether they've mastered the material, not just figured out how to take a test.
So instead of imposing an obsolete conformity on an invariably varied environment, we should be empowering teachers and parents with the tools they need to meet the unique educational needs of their students and children.
Instead of continuing to standardize and systematize education across the entire country, we should be trying to customize and personalize it for every student.
The good news is that we don't need to start from scratch.
We know that local control over K-12 and even pre-K education is more effective than Washington, D.C.'s prescriptive, heavy handed approach, because we've seen it work in communities all across the country.
For years, education entrepreneurs in the states including my home state of Utah have been implementing and refining policies that put parents, teachers, principals, and school boards back in control of education policy.
Perhaps the most popular state-initiated reform is the movement toward school choice, which overturns the embarrassingly outdated and unfair practice of assigning schools based on zip codes.
We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for economic opportunity and democratic citizenship later in life. And we also know that America has always aspired to be a place where the condition of your birth doesn't determine your path in life.
So why on earth would we prohibit parents from choosing the school that's best for their children, especially if, as is far too common, their local school is underperforming?
School choice is one of the most important locally driven reforms aimed at resolving this fundamental injustice of our current assignment-by-zip-code system. But it's not the only one.
There are also Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which give parents control over the per-pupil education dollars that would have been spent on their child by the school system.
There is the recent innovation of "course choice" pioneered in my home state of Utah which brings the same kind of education customization and à la carte choice that have spread on college campuses to elementary and secondary schools.
And of course there's the distinctively American notion that parents, principals, school districts, and state officials have the right, and should have the ability, to opt-out of the most onerous, restrictive, misguided federal commands.
Whether it's parents who don't want their children wasting dozens of hours each year taking standardized tests, or state policymakers who develop local education reforms that are more effective and less expensive than federal one-size-fits-all policies, we should support the rights of all Americans to have a say in the education of their children. 
Mr. President, the point isn't that there's a better way to improve America's schools but that there are fifty better ways... even thousands of better ways.
In our increasingly decentralized world, there are as many ideal education policies as there are children and teachers, communities and schools.
But Washington is standing in the way, distrustful of any alternative to the top-down education status quo. And under the Every Student Succeeds Act, Washington's outdated, conformist policies will continue to be in the way.
Which is why I urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting against this bill.
But even if most senators vote in favor of the failed status quo, I'm confident that I have the majority of moms and dads in America on my side.
I often hear from Utah parents, calling or writing my office to express their support for local control over education.
I recently received an email from Kierston, a proud mother of four and the PTA president at her local school, who urged me to vote against this ESEA reauthorization.
I thought I'd let her have the last word today.
Based on years of experience with the public schools in her community, Kierston warns that maintaining Washington D.C.'s monopoly over America's public schools will
"force my three incredibly different children who learn in very different ways into a box where my daughter will be forced to learn things she isn't ready to learn [...] my oldest who is ahead of his peers will be forced to slow down or help teach his peers in a way they don't understand [...] and my third will constantly be in trouble for not sitting still and pestering his peers because he understands quickly and is bored."
"We need standards, we need benchmarks," Kierston wrote, "but we also need to allow children to learn at their own pace. [...] We need child centered education where children have the ability to go as fast or as slow as they need. [...] Please think about the children of Utah. Vote against [the ESEA reauthorization]. Allow our kids the freedom to learn."
Thank you. 

Senate Votes to Cut Off Debate on ESEA; Rubio Absent; Final Vote 12/9; More Tools - Keep Contacting Senate! December, 2015

The US Senate is closer to joining the US House in sacrificing our children and grandchildren to psychological manipulation and Baby Common Core.  By a vote of 84-12 they cut off further debate (invoked cloture).  For Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson voted yes and Republican and presidential candidate Marco Rubio was absent.  Of the other presidential candidates, Republicans Ted Cruz and Rand Paul properly voted against the motion, while Lindsey Graham was absent and Socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders was also absent.  The full roll call is available HERE. More analysis from Breitbart is available HERE.

We thank the following courageous 12, who are listening to parents instead of lobbyists and Common Core proponents:

Blunt (R-MO)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)


Please contact your US Senators by phone or social media.  The full Social Media Directory for phone, Facebook, Instagram is available from Patriot Journalist.  Here is some of Florida's Senator information:

Senator Marco Rubio   202-224-3041 @SenRubioPress
Senator Bill Nelson 202-224-5274   @SenBillNelson

TWITTER ACTION PAGE:  Just hit the buttons to contact every single senator to urge them to #StopESEA

Here are some more tools you can use in your arguments in addition to the ones from our last alert: 
1) Great Open Letter by Georgia State Senator William Ligon on Why the Senate Should Vote NO 
2) Tremendous Video Interview with Erin Tuttle of Indiana on Why ESSA Does NOT End Common Core 

3) Congressional Talking Points for ESSA are the Same as for FAILED NCLB
Both Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) droned on about how this bill is such a boon to "local control" and "flexibility" among many other wonders.  We have provided copious evidence that this is NOT the case at all (HERE, HERE, and HERE for example), but it is very interesting to note that this is almost exactly the same rhetoric that they employed for No Child Left Behind 14 years ago, and we all know how well that turned out. EVERY one of these have FAILED in NCLB and are made WORSE by ESSA (Hat Tip - Sharena Arrington):
Expands local control of schools by providing new freedom and decision-making authority to every local school district in America. 
Provides local communities with more flexibility and more control over how federal education funds are used.
Allows states to design and implement their annual tests.  
Explicitly prohibits federally sponsored national testing or federally controlled curricula.
Streamlines federal K-12 education programs from 55 to 45.



Action Alert for Senate Final Vote on ESEA December, 2015

The likely final Senate vote will be Tuesday 12/8. There is a new Twitter Action Page for this upcoming vote.  There are preloaded tweets for Republicans & Democrats! All you have to do is hit the buttons! Please tweet the Senate DAILY from now until then:
Also, please call Monday at 202-224-3121 & demand a NO vote on S 1177! Specific phone numbers, FB pages etc. are available at:

For Florida's Senators, here are phone numbers and Twitter handles:
Senator Marco Rubio   202-224-3041 @SenRubioPress
Senator Bill Nelson 202-224-5274   @SenBillNelson 

Here are the basic talking points in red followed by resources you can offer to send if there is an interest:
The federal education bill gives hollow protections against federal interference. (If they ask or try to tell you otherwise, you can give them these with details at the first link below)
  • The secretary of education has veto power over the state plans that are still required to have statewide standards and assessments.
  • The language of the bill itself puts forth many requirements for the types of standards that must be in the state plans, so it is essentially irrelevant what the secretary does or does not do.
  • The language of the bill itself requires that standards align with ELEVEN different federal statutes that will make it likely that states have to keep the Common Core standards or those like them, even if they call them something else
  • .The language prohibiting federal interference is essentially the same in statutes that Secretary Duncan ignored to give us Common Core and waivers.  Then and now, there is no enforcement mechanism.
The still federally mandated yearly assessments are much more affective and psychologically profiling. 
For more details on these first two points see this summary regarding standards and assessments with specific language citations from the American Principles Project. Also send the link to this video if anyone needs proof.
Here is a more detailed list of 12 reasons to vote against this bill:

Here is a rebuttal of the US House Education and Workforce Committee talking points:

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


#JebFailsEd Admission of Involvement in ESSA Boondoggle Likely to Make Things Even Worse for Bush December, 2015

Now we have another, and perhaps a very prominent reason, that the 1061 page No Child Left Behind rewrite boondoggle, now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was rammed through Congress when the final language was available for only two days, and why the Republican-controlled House was so hell bent on passing this bill before the Christmas recess.  Besides dancing to their corporate masters' tune to keep the gravy train of computerized learning, software, data mining, charter schools, and other profitable, but harmful educational fiascos going, the Washington Cartel establishment also wanted to try to resurrect the imploding campaign of Jeb Bush before the Iowa Caucuses on February 1st. Bush is currently at 5% in the Real Clear Politics average of polls and in 5th place both in Iowa and nationally.

Bush, during an interview on the Fox News show Special Report, actually admitted that he was involved in writing this horrific piece of legislation with its deceptive and hollow protections against federal interference in standards. He still puts forth the equally deceptive rhetoric that Common Core is high standards, a good idea gone bad due to the rascally federal government that overreached and interfered.  Here is what he said:


He apparently thought that taking credit for this monstrosity would help him with parents and conservatives who he says "are concerned about federal involvement, principally. They're concerned, deeply concerned about federal overreach in education..." would give him an out for support of the terrible Common Core system.  He thought that being seen as a crusader against the federal leviathan would grant him some sort of pardon.  He was wrong.  

Yes, parents are concerned about federal overreach, but they are equally, if not more concerned about deception and that so many aspects of federal control increase in this bill, including the issue of federal control of standards in at least four ways (details HERE):
  1. The secretary of education has veto power over the state plans that are still required to have statewide standards and assessments.
  2. The language of the bill itself puts forth many requirements for the types of standards that must be in the state plans, so it is essentially irrelevant what the secretary does or does not do.
  3. The language of the bill itself requires that standards align with ELEVEN different federal statutes that will make it likely that states have to keep the Common Core standards or those like them, even if they call them something else
  4. .The language prohibiting federal interference is essentially the same in statutes that Secretary Duncan ignored to give us Common Core and waivers.  Then and now, there is no enforcement mechanism.
As happened after the first debate, Bush is being either ignorant or deceptive, neither of which is helpful to someone running for president. This is especially true when he already is in so much trouble with parents for supporting a system that is doing such massive harm to children.  And admitting involvement in a bill that is bad for so many other reasons, such as psychologically manipulative standards and tests, Baby Common Core preschool, and the parent replacement center creating 21st Century schools will make things even worse for him.  This latest attempt of the #JebCanFixIt meme will likely turn into another epic failure, just as the hashtag did on Twitter.



US House Sacrifices Our Children to Affective Education & Baby Common Core in NCLB Rewrite December, 2015

By a vote 359-64, the US House passed the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (NCLB) last night.  Their new monstrous 1061 page boondoggle (longer than NCLB) is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It was released in its final form the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday and voted on two days later to make sure there was not enough time for parents and citizens that opposed it to be able to rally their elected representatives.

The floor debate was a prolonged self-congratulatory love-fest where not a word of dissent was allowed.  There are many appalling lowlights about the alleged wonders of Baby Common Core preschool and Full Service Community Schools that will become Parent Replacement Centers during that debate, but this one minute portion of a speech by Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan during earlier debate on the rule for consideration crystallizes why this bill is so bad.  It is a frank admission of the intended full horrors of the social emotional/affective education system. This system moves away from academics with a "new Common Core," which he admitted will still be there with the legislation by virtue of his pet program.  The social emotional program Tim Ryan lauds is just one of many similar pieces of language in the bill (see some HERE) that requires psychological profiling that will be part of a data system promoting cradle to grave career tracking with minimal student privacy. Here is a portion of this speech (Hat Tip Alice Linahan of Women on the Wall):    

The fact that he says, "I believe there is a new way of educating our kids emerging here, there is a new Common Core developing and that is the mental discipline and the physical health of our young people," is a clear confirmation of our contention that Common Core has always significantly been about psychological manipulation.

Not a single Democrat voted against the bill this time as opposed to every single Democrat voting against the House Student Success Act. This shows how far the Republican leadership capitulated to the big government left in Congress and the White House and the big business Chamber/Bush/Pearson/Gates cabal to get this bill passed.  When receiving the list of Common Core proponents who had endorsed the bill from a staffer that was supposed to comfort or impress us, we wrote back:
"That the organizations you list, many of whom are responsible for developing, supporting and metastasizing Common Core, support this bill is not a comfort, but rather twisting the knife in the guts of parents whose children are suffering and will continue to suffer under this system if this bill passes.  Many parents in this district will be bitterly disappointed if the congressman votes yes."

There were more Democrat votes than Republican, which means that Speaker Ryan's promises to not put forth any more back room deals and to not bring forth any bills that needed major Democrat assistance to pass had all the substance of cotton candy in a rainstorm.
Despite the long odds and thanks to many herculean and courageous efforts of moms and dads here in Florida and across the country including Erin Tuttle of Indiana and Dr. Mary Byrne of Missouri that went to Washington at their own expense to lobby and are friends at Eagle Forum and American Principles Project, we increased the number of no votes from 27 when HR 5 passed this summer to 64 yesterday.  If we had more time, it is quite likely that the vote count would have been different, which is likely the real reason this huge bill was rammed through two days after the language was released without any serious review.  As written to one staffer, "This reeks of the process used by the Democrats with Obamacare."

We are extremely grateful to those 64 Republicans who listened to parents and citizens, instead of lobbyists, and had the wisdom, courage, and foresight to understand how damaging this bill will be.  In a remarkable show of unity, by our calculations, 33 of 38 or 87% of the House Freedom Caucus voted against the bill. We thank Chairman Jim Jordan and all of the members of the HFC that voted no, all of the other Republicans, all of you who tweeted in support of these folks and Patriot Journalist for setting up the action pages. Here, we are especially appreciative to Florida Congressmen Curt Clawson, Ron DeSantis, Jeff Miller and Ted Yoho. Here is the entire list of those who voted Nay, all of whom should be thanked and supported:

Amash (MI)
Babin (TX)
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn (TN)
Brat (VA)
Bridenstine (OK)
Brooks (AL)
Buck (CO)
Chabot (OH)
Chaffetz (UT)
Clawson (FL)
Culberson (TX)
DeSantis (FL)
DesJarlais (TN)
Duncan (SC)
Farenthold (TX)
Fleming (LA)
Franks (AZ)
Gohmert (TX)
Gosar (AZ)
Gowdy  (SC)
Graves (LA)
Guinta (NH)
Harper (MS)
Harris (MD)
Hice, Jody B. (GA)
Holding (NC)
Huelskamp (KS)
Johnson, Sam (TX)
Jones (NC)
Jordan (OH)
Kelly (MS)
King (IA)
Labrador (ID)
Lamborn (CO)
Loudermilk (GA)
Love (UT)
Lummis (WY)
Marchant (TX)
Massie (KY)
Meadows (NC)
Miller (FL)
Mooney (WV)
Mulvaney (SC)
Palazzo (MS)
Palmer (AL)
Perry (PA)
Poe (TX)
Rogers (AL)
Rohrabacher (CA)
Rothfus (PA)
Salmon (AZ)
Sanford (SC)
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Stewart (UT)
Stutzman (IN)
Walker (NC)
Weber (TX)
Wenstrup (OH)
Yoder (KS)
Yoho (FL)
The Senate vote is currently expected on Monday, December 7th but that is not officially confirmed. Please contact your US Senators by phone or social media.  The full directory is available from Patriot Journalist.  Here is some of Florida's Senator information:

Senator Marco Rubio   202-224-3041 @SenRubioPress
Senator Bill Nelson 202-224-5274   @SenBillNelson


Not wanting to give the public any time to review or call their legislators about the horrific 1062 page monstrosity that was released 48 hours ago after the Thanksgiving holiday as the final compromise bill to replace No Child Left Behind, House leadership has scheduled the final vote for TODAY starting at about 12 noon.  The bill is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), S 1177.. PLEASE call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask your US House member to vote NO on ESSA!.  The numbers of the Florida delegation are available at this link and listed below:

Here are four of the MANY reasons your member of Congress should vote NO:
1) The language of the bill itself will require standards that comply with 11 different federal statutes that will be very much like Common Core regardless of the the Secretary of Education does or does not do, so the prohibitions on his power are irrelevant.

2) The bill requires assessments that are very heavy on non-academic psychological profiling in an environment of deteriorating student data privacy.

3) This bill creates a new $250 million preschool program that research shows to be invasive, ineffective, and harmful whose national standards are aligned to the K-12 Common Core creating "Baby Common Core."

4) ESSA resurrects a terrible program called 21st Century Schools loved by both Arne Duncan and Lamar Alexander that gives womb to tomb health, mental health and social services creating "Parent Replacement Center." Here are stunning videos of both them extolling the virtues of these big-government boondoggles:

For more details, here is a summary of the problems with the final bill regarding standards and assessments from the American Principles Project:
And here is a link to a one page summary by Dr. Effrem on Preschool:
Here is a rebuttal of the US House Education and Workforce Committee talking points:

1)      CLAIM: Places new and unprecedented restrictions on the sec. of education
TRUTH:  There is no enforcement mechanism for any of these restrictions and the sec. of education still has veto power over the state plans that still mandate standards and assessments similar to Common Core. (Details HERE)
2)      CLAIM:  Prohibits the sec. of education from forcing, coercing, or incentivizing states into adopting Common Core
TRUTH: ESSA heavily influences standards within the bill itself. This requirement to have the standards comply with 11 different unconstitutional federal statutes setting up standards similar to Common Core will be statutory a state must comply with it regardless of what the Secretary does or doesn't do. (Details HERE)
3)      CLAIM:  Ends the era of federally mandated high-stakes tests
TRUTH: Tests are still federally mandated along with 95% participation with no opt-out clause as was present in the House bill.  There are new mandates for the tests to be psychologically profiling "higher order thinking skills" and "strategies to improve students' skills outside the academic subject areas." This is combined with new evidence of lax student data protection.
4)      CLAIM: Eliminates the federally mandated one-size-fits-all accountability system
TRUTH: While it is an improvement that AYP is gone, the mandates for what states must include in their accountability systems are still very concerning, especially in non-academic areas.
5)      CLAIM: Repeals 49 ineffective and duplicative federal programs
TRUTH: The appropriations language will have to be examined to make sure these programs are actually eliminated, not merely consolidated as was mentioned by several groups during discussion of HR 5. The ineffective, invasive 21st Century Community Schools with increased mental health interference are funded.
6)      CLAIM:  Provides states and schools with new funding flexibility
TRUTH: With all of the myriad legalistic and detailed requirements in a 1061 page bill, flexibility is in the eye of the federal bureaucrats that will be beholding this mess for interpretation and implementation.
7)      CLAIM: Holds the line on no new pre-K programs
TRUTH: How this can be said with a straight face when there is $250 million in new grant spending with required alignment to Head Start that requires controversial psychosocial "Baby Common Core" national standards and there is so much research showing lack of effectiveness or harm of these programs is beyond comprehension.  (See HERE for more details)
8)      CLAIM: Prohibits the use of federal education dollars to fund abortions.
TRUTH: That there needs to be any discussion of the use of federal education dollars for any health issues, especially one as controversial as abortion, speaks to the scope of the appallingly unconstitutional interference in both education and health.
9)      CLAIM: Offers parents more school choice.
TRUTH: While it is good that private and home schools seem to have escaped coming under the federal strings and regulations, such as requirement for public school standards like Common Core  and tests in this bill, proclaiming charter schools as a great alternative to public schools is not exactly accurate.  These are still public schools, have unelected boards, must give the public school tests based on the Common Core standards in the vast majority of states, and are a boon to unaccountable corporations.
10)   CLAIM: Provides a four year authorization of the law
TRUTH: This is an improvement over the previous seven year period that went for fourteen, but any amount of time that carries the requirements for federally mandated standards and testing that psychologically profiles our children and results in essentially the same type of standards as Common Core along with many other invasive programs is still too long.



Back Room Deal ESEA Conference Report Passes Through Committee November, 2015

The ESEA bill passed conference committee.  See below for details and a great op-ed by Jane Robbins.  It is very important to contact Speaker Paul Ryan, the House Freedom Caucus and the House in general:

  2. Here are some memes and pictures you can use to contact your members of Congress on Face book and Twitter: 
  3. PLEASE join the following Twitter rallies at 

The No Child Left Behind Conference Committee considered a few mostly symbolic amendments and adjourned on November 19th.. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)i who spoke well the day before about problems of too much federal pre-K offered an amendment to study the problem, which will likely only provide political cover..Rep. Glen Grothman of Wisconsin mentioned the ineffectiveness of preK and the need to strengthen families but unfortunately still voted for the bill. There was another symbolic amendment on privacy that funds teachers more to learn how to protect data by Democrat Jared Polis of CO.  Unsurprisingly there was nothing done about psychological profiling. Senator and Republican Rand Paul was the only one with courage to vote no on the final bill.  
After the committee refused to allow the public see the bill language they were amending that will have such profound effects on millions of children, we are equally appallingly told that final language will not be available until November 30th and they will ram through final passage in the House on December 2nd or 3rd.   See Jane Robbins' excellent column on how the new House boss, Speaker Paul Ryan does not appear to be acting any different than the old boss, John Boehner:

What does it take to make it clear that the American people are fed up? The Republican grassroots are in open revolt against the "establishment" presidential candidates. Speaker John Boehner lost his job because of his dismissiveness toward the more conservative members of his caucus. In response, new Speaker Paul Ryan promised a return to "regular order" and to greater consultation with all members of his caucus.

But the last two days' events with respect to reauthorizing the despised No Child Left Behind (NCLB) statute demonstrate that nothing has changed. The insiders still control, the American people are shut out, and the politically connected get their way amid much backslapping bonhomie.

This summer, both the House and the Senate passed bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, the current iteration of which is NCLB). Although both bills were marketed as reining in the U.S. Department of Education and reinstating state control over standards and assessments, a reading of the hundreds of pages of legislation showed they did no such thing. Moreover (among other failings), they extended federal tentacles over toddlers, incentivizing states to expand useless if not harmful government preschool programs, and they provided grants to shove states into embracing "brave new world" technology to psychologically profile students.

All of these shortcomings led a coalition of over 200 grassroots organizations to oppose any reauthorization based on these bills and to urge Congress to avoid the trap of sending our leftist President anything he would find acceptable.

For the next few months, concerned Americans monitored developments in Washington to see when the conference committee would be appointed to reconcile the differences and produce a compromise bill. With so much turmoil on so many issues, citizens were told that almost certainly, nothing would happen this year. As late as last week, congressional staffers (and even one congressman) assured constituents that ESEA reauthorization would be delayed because the conference committee members hadn't even been appointed yet.

And then early this week surprise! word leaked out that the compromise bill had already been drafted behind closed doors. With the bill ready to go, the conference committee was hastily appointed, not to negotiate it, but to rubber-stamp it.
So, was the bill made available to the public? Of course not. Word has it that a hard copy was given to the committee the night before the conference committee meeting a stack of pages five or six inches tall, which probably means 1000-plus pages long, with no page numbers. No copy was put on line so the peasants could see it. After a short hearing devoted primarily to celebrating themselves for their excellent work, the committee cheerily passed the bill. The only "no" vote came from Sen. Rand Paul.
The likelihood that any committee member actually read or analyzed this bill is exactly zero. However, a staffer for Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) assured one constituent that he in fact did read and analyze every page, which makes him both the fastest reader and the smartest man on Capitol Hill. No doubt Georgians will remember that when he runs for re-election next year.
In light of this charade, it's troubling to read what Speaker Ryan said on Thursday about his celebrated reinstatement of "regular order":

"This week, we also made significant progress in our efforts to return to regular order. Two formal committee conferences have met. You know, I'm amazed at this. I looked at the record, and been . . . on conference committees but many of our members have never even experienced a conference committee because we've not had regular order around here for a long time. So this week we have two conference committees meeting the highway conference and education conference."
So, Speaker Ryan is happy that something called a "conference committee" met for a few hours, talked about a document that was deliberately withheld from the American public, and engaged in enough kabuki theater to pacify the rubes in the provinces. Apparently to the Speaker, "regular order" means "business as usual."

Now we're told the bill will not be available for the public to view until November 30 (if this bill is such a triumph for state and local autonomy, why not release it to the people?), and the House will vote on it on December 2, right after the Thanksgiving recess. Nothing like a long holiday to make sure no congressman will actually read the mammoth fed-ed scheme that will be imposed on American children for another four years. This is shameful. If for no other reason, the corrupt process that produced this education version of Obamacare must be defeated.

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.

Also see this excellent coulmn by Robbins and Emmett McGroarty on the dangers of this ESEA bill to student data privacy!



UPDATE - HOUSE CONFEREES NAMED!  Here are the House conferees for the ESEA/NCLB bill along with their Twitter handles. Please teweet to the as discussed below.  (Apparently Senate conferees have been named as well, but that information is not available on the Senate HELP Committee website.)

  • Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce  @repjohnkline
  • Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education  @toddrokita
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)  @VirginiaFoxx
  • Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN)   @DrPhilRoe
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) @CongressmanGT
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)  @brettguthrie
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)  @RepLukeMesser
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) @reprussell
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) @repcurbelo
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)  @repgrothman

Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, Ranking Member, Committee on Education & Workforce @repbobbyscott


Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon @RepBonamici
Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado @jaredpolis
Congresswoman Susan Davis of California @repsusandavis
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida @RepWilson
Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts  @RepKClark
  • Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio @repmarciafudge

THIS IS AN ALL HANDS ON DECK RED ALERT! Congressional education leaders have reached a behind closed doors framework agreement on the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  According to Education Week, Congress is poised to ram this through quickly at the end of the year while people are distracted by the holidays and the presidential primaries:

Expect the conference to kick off next Tuesday night [TOMORROW 11/17] and conclude by Thursday. And expect the bill to be on the floor of both chambers after Thanksgiving recess. That will give enough time for rank-and-file lawmakers to read it and make sure they understand what's in it before they have to vote on it. 
It is CRITICAL, even with the holidays, primaries, terrorism, and other terrible news to inform your members of Congress, PARTICULARLY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES of what is in the bill and how dangerous it is for our children.  PLEASE CALL 202-224-3121! Here also are links to the contact information and social media directories for Congress:
Here is a short note that you can copy and paste or adapt into an email or message your members on Facebook. 
Dear _______________
As a parent and citizen, I am outraged that congressional leadership has negotiated a compromise bill for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind in secret. This legislation has such enormous implications for the future of our children and the nation.  The available information about this compromise contains much disturbing news, especially since it appears to be based mostly on the Senate bill

False protection against federal interference in standards and curriculum The language in both bills is no different than the already violated statutes without enforcement mechanisms that gave us Race to the Top and Common Core in the first place.

A new nanny state/"Baby Common Core" preschool program Federal involvement in education is unconstitutional to begin with, but extending and expanding the invasive, harmful and manipulative Common Core philosophy and methodology to our youngest children is appalling. In addition, here is a new compilation of studies showing the ineffectiveness and harm of these programs.  

21st Century Schools/Parent Replacement Centers These comprehensive womb to tomb, nearly 24/7 schools with school, health, mental health, and other invasive, non-academic programs that are outside of the constitutional authority of the federal government and have no great record of effectiveness.

No parental opt-out provision The one excellent piece of parental rights language in the House bill has been removed and the 95% test participation mandate remains.  This is unacceptable to me as a parent and will also continue forcing our teachers to teach to the test instead of meeting the individual needs of students.

Until the public is allowed to see the actual language, there are a number of other potential horrors like increased psychological profiling and continued control over state plans by the secretary of education that were in the Senate bill and could likely be in the agreement.  These, as well as details about what is listed above, are listed in the letter signed by over 200 organizations and experts in 46 states and are also depicted in this cartoon:

This conference report MUST be voted down.  While much of the Common Core system with its associated tentacles was implemented via regulatory fiat without Congressional vote or oversight, a vote for this bill will be seen by me as your affirmation of all that is wrong with federal interference in education.  This system is harming students, teachers, school boards, states, and local districts. We need a bill signed by a president that understands and will follow the rule of law and will not participate in the destruction of public education, not a lame duck with an abysmal record of overreach and harm to teachers.

Please let me know your position as soon as possible.  Thank you for your service to this nation and to the families of our district.



In addition to your own representative and senators, it is very important to concentrate on the full congressional leadership and the education leadership.  Here are some tweets that you can send yourself or go to the links and retweet or substitute the names of your own members:
For GOP Members:
@SpeakerRyan Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd

Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd

Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd

For Democrats:
@NancyPelosi ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers have to teach to invalid standards/test or leave students #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach

ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers have to teach to invalid standards/test or leave students #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach
@repbobbyscott ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers forced to teach to invalid standards/test or leave kids #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach

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

Florida State Board Extremely Selective on Implementation of Testing Law November, 2015

On October 28th Florida State School Board member Gary Chartrand solemnly intoned to the parents, school board members and superintendents that had traveled from all over the state to Orlando to so eloquently express concerns and to the public watching that the board had no choice. They "were required to follow the law" saying they needed to issue school grades based on the FSA.  This is despite the misalignment between standards & test questions, the FSA being based on the Utah test and SBAC, both of which are completely devoid of validity evidence, the intentional lack of accommodations for special need students, and the myriad technical problems.   Senator John Legg & Representative Marlene O'Toole, who chair their respective education policy committees, have made similar pronouncements.

Their hypocritically selective view of which testing statutes they are supposed to follow is not only frustrating, it is abusive and damaging to the students, teachers and taxpayers of Florida.  Here are two important examples of key statutes requiring reasoned implementation of the new tests that the legislature, the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) and the State Board ignored.

1)Budget Bill Requiring District Readiness to Give Assessments Online [Chapter No. 2013-27, (See enrolled version of SB 1076), lines 2057-2065]
The State Board of Education shall adopt rules establishing an implementation schedule to transition from FCAT Reading, FCAT Writing, FCAT Mathematics, and Algebra I and Geometry EOC assessments to common core assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics. The schedule must take into consideration funding, sufficient field and baseline data, access to assessments, instructional alignment, and school district readiness to administer the common core assessments online.  (Emphasis added).
2)Load Testing Law
[Footnote to 1003.41] Section 6, ch. 2013-250, provides that "[f]ull implementation of online assessments for Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics adopted under s. 1003.41, Florida Statutes, for all kindergarten through grade 12 public school students shall occur only after the technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts have been load tested and independently verified as ready for successful deployment and implementation." (Emphasis added).
[Footnote to 1008.22] Section 7, "The technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts that administer statewide standardized assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22, Florida Statutes, including online assessments, shall be load tested and independently verified as appropriate, adequate, efficient, and sustainable." (Emphasis added).
Dozens of superintendents warned that the load testing had failed, that they did not have enough computers, and that they were not ready for the 2015 assessments.  Here are some examples:
Highlands superintendent Wally Cox
Can our district/state withstand the load for technology that FSA testing requires? We will be conducting an infrastucture trial, but it will be at a minimum, one lab per school, potentially fifteen to twenty labs, seventy five labs that will be utilized across the district during testing. We had inadequate time to perform district infrastructure trial before FSA survey is due. ... Does a successful lab, school or district infrastructure trial really measure the state's network to handle the capacity of test day? The stakes are too high to find this out during testing."

Sarasota superintendent Lori White
"There is great concern about completing the magnitude of computer based tests given the short timeframe. Further we are not confident in the AIR FSA testing platform, which relies on a constant connection to the internet. Finally, we are not convinced there is adequate internet capacity to support the number of simultaneous test takers within and across districts."

Baker superintendent Sherrie Raulerson
"We have additional concerns regarding the readiness of the state's infrastructure due to the additional statewide computer-based testing."

Bradford superintendent Chad Farnsworth
"The superintendent's signature verifies the readiness of technology. However, this does not verify Bradford's readiness to take the FSA assessment. There are many concerns related to adequate time to teach the new standards, question formats, scheduling issues and the state's readiness for testing."

Collier superintendent Kamela Patton
" It is being administered for the first time as a computer-based assessment, when neither the assessment or the state and local infrastructure to administer the assessment have been thoroughly field tested."
Lake superintendent Susan Moxley
"This district will always put forth every effort to meet assessment administration requirements as demonstrated by meeting the online certification requirements. It is important to recognize that the computer based assessment certification tool confirms that our district has the number of computers meeting specifications are available to rotate students through testing in order to complete the state required assessments. It does not reflect the adverse impact created in the areas of infrastructure, time, limited number of devices and disruption to instructional time."

The Department of Education completely ignored these and many other concerns in flagrant violation of both of those statutes. So, we find it very difficult to believe that there is urgency to follow the statute regarding the release of school grades before the legislature meets in January.

#JebCanFixIt Not Likely to Work for Parents in FL or US Due to Common Core - Congress Should Listen on ESEA! November, 2015

Jeb Bush is now to the point of rebooting his failing campaign with a new slogan, #JebCanFixIt, which is getting mercilessly mocked in the media and on line.

Marc Caputo of Politico Florida tweeted:

Nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin of Twitchy and one of her clever followers tweeted:

His campaign and the media are attributing his problems to "Trumpmania," poor debate performances, being too stiff and wonky on the campaign trail, etc. but parents and teachers in Florida and across the country as well as sources inside his campaign know the truth. His new slogan cannot "fix" his problem with Common Core and high stakes testing. 
There is a stark contrast in political fortunes between those candidates who support the Common Core standards system and those who sincerely and consistently fight it.  No two current candidates illustrate that sharp difference better than Kentucky governor-elect Matt Bevin and former Governor Bush. 
Bevin is a 44 year old veteran and businessman, but arguably his most important credential is "Dad" to his nine beautiful children including four adopted from Africa. As we previously discussed, while Common Core was obviously not the only issue, it was extremely significant in that state that was an early adopter of the horrific standards and aligned tests.  Education in Kentucky has been severely damaged by Common Core as evidenced by the most recent NAEP scores that were even worse than Florida's.
Contrast that to strong Common Core proponent Jeb Bush's plummeting poll numbers not only nationwide and in early primary states, but most significantly, here in his home state of Florida. The influential Washington Post political blog the Fix had a headline on November 3rd that screamed, "Jeb Bush's poll numbers in Florida are unprecedentedly bad" discussing The Bay News 9/Survey USA poll released on November 2nd has Bush polling at 5th in his own state behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and for the first time, Ted Cruz.
At a recent statewide Florida Republican Women event, the straw poll showed:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won in the presidential contest, capturing 25 percent of more than 100 votes cast. Tied in second place were Texas' U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 16 percent. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and real-estate tycoon Donald Trump tied for third 14 percent.
And a September Florida Atlantic University poll showed , not only was Bush not leading, but he was upside down in favorability ratings as well:


These polls and the many articles like the Washington Post column mentioned above, sum up why the Republican Party of Florida is not having a straw poll at their major presidential event later in November.  The party does not want to embarrass Bush in his own state.  This opinion was seconded by Tampa Bay Times political columnist Adam Smith who said on October 12th:

State party leaders have rebuffed other efforts to hold a presidential straw poll election at the 'Sunshine Summit' later in the month, largely as a favor to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who could be embarrassed by weak support among their home state activists.

This is combined with national polls like the most recent Quinnipiac poll showing Bush with 4% in 5th place behind Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Cruz.  Three of these four anti-Common Core candidates (except Trump) also beat pro-Common Core Hillary Clinton in individual matchups. In addition, "Bush has the worst net favorability rating of any candidate, a negative 25 - 58 percent, while Trump gets a negative 37 - 56 percent and Clinton gets a negative 42 - 52 percent." 

In Iowa, Bush has is in 6th place behind Trump, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, and Jindal & Huckabee (tied for 5th) All of those candidates are anti-Common Core at least by their statements.  In moderate New Hampshire, Bush is in 5th place behind all more conservative anti-Common Core candidates like Ted Cruz, except for John issich.

Mr. Bush's problem was well depicted in this meme by AP Dillon:

As Congress is pressured by the education establishment to finish the No Child Left Behind rewrite bill, members need to observe the incredible political damage Common Core is doing to Jeb Bush y his Common Core support bbefore passing a conference report compromise that this president will sign. The bills bein reconciled cement Common Core into place, continue federal testing mandates, and expand psychological profiling, data collection and early childhood.  Nothing will be able to "fix" parental outrage if that happens. It is VERY important to send your members of Congress the national coalition letter at to one of their means of contact information:

Anti-Common Core Candidate, Matt Bevin, Wins Kentucky Governor's Race November, 2015

Matt Bevin, an anti-establishment outsider, who was defeated in his primary race against US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, came back strong to handily win the Kentucky Governor's race last night.  Although there were many important issues discussed, such as Obamacare, religious liberty, and the EPA's war on coal producing states, Common Core was very prominently discussed:

Education Week mentioned the import of his potential victory in their discussion of the various races and measures around the country:

Arguably, the governor's race with the biggest potential impact on public schools is in Kentucky, where Democrat and state Attorney General Jack Conway is facing off against Republican Matt Bevin, a business executive who unsuccessfully tried to unseat U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year. 

Bevin is an opponent of the Common Core State Standards, and although he wouldn't have the power simply to chuck the standards overboard on his own if he were to win the election, his power to appoint members of the state board could ultimately endanger the common core's status in the state. (New state chief Stephen Pruitt, an alumnus of one of the key backers of the standards, Achieve, might have something to say about that.) 

Congratulations to Governor-Elect Matt Bevin! Common Core opponents in Kentucky finally have some reinforcements in the statehouse.  Even though Florida students, teachers, and districts continue to suffer under the Jeb Bush/Pearson/AIR Common Core standards and testing accountabaloney, we are happy for our fellow warriors to be making progress!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - National Coalition Opposes No Child Left Behind Rewrite Conference Bill October, 2015


1) CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AT 202-224-3121 - Tell them you do NOT want a rewrite of No Child Left Behind, especially based on these bills (HR 5 & S 1177).  Tell them you want the US Department of Education abolished.  At the very least this bill must be rewritten under a new president that understands the Constitution and the rule of law.
2) EMAIL OR USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO SEND THEM THE LETTER AT THIS SHORT LINK: - Here are the social media/contact information directories for the House and Senate from our friends at Patriot Journalist Network: 
October 13, 2015

In a coast to coast effort, parent and citizen groups, resisting the national and federal takeover of standards, testing, curriculum, and student data collection via Race to the Top and Common Core standards, are loudly voicing their concerns and opposition to the conference committee report being written for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind.  This letter strongly urges suspension of work on this bill "until a new administration is elected that, we hope, will follow the rule of law and the Constitution regarding the proper federal role in education." This request is being made because:

"...for a conference report to be acceptable to this President, given the administration's dangerous record in so many aspects of the ESEA and related statutes and programs, the report would be completely unacceptable to us and our membership the millions of families, students, and in many cases teachers, such as the majority of those surveyed from Tennessee that oppose implementation of Common Core, of this nation who are affected by these policies."

It was sent to congressional education leaders responsible for crafting the bill: House Education Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Ranking Member Robert Scott (D-VA), Senate Education Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and is signed by more than 180 different state and local groups, education activists or local and state officials in 45 states including more than 15 national organizations and activists in addition to state and local chapters of several other national organizations.

The thoroughly referenced letter lays out fatal flaws with both the House Student Success Act (HR 5) and the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) in extensive detail in the following areas, for all of which federal statutory or constitutional authority is extremely questionable or non-existent:
  • Federal Involvement in Standards Development
  • Federally Mandated Testing
  • Federal Curriculum
  • Student Data and Psychological Privacy
  • Preschool
  • Full Service Community Schools & Safe, Healthy & Supportive Schools
"The overwhelming response to this effort to protect the hearts and minds of our children and rein in federal overreach is extremely gratifying," said Karen R. Effrem, MD, president of Education Liberty Watch, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and one of the letter's primary authors.  "The unconstitutional federal overreach in education that is so damaging to our children and our future as a nation needs to end now, and stopping this legislation is a critical first step."

The letter concludes:
"We know that you are hearing from many well-financed and powerful special-interest groups demanding completion of this bill in this Congress, but please hear the voices of those who are the closest to these precious children.  Our children must not be trained to have arbitrarily determined "college and career ready" skills and be placed on paths chosen for them by government and corporate interests. The American public-education system must provide a well-rounded academic education to allow students to choose their future course and perpetuate the heritage of freedom that has made this nation the freest, most generous, most prosperous nation in the history of the world."

Read the full document HERE.

Karen R. Effrem, MD
866-376-5550 (office)

Race to the Top Architect Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Step Down in December October, 2015

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is resigning at the end of December.  Over the last six and a half years, Duncan has been the architect of multiple tyrannical federal education policies.  These include:
  • Race to the Top that Dr. Effrem while in Minnesota dubbed in 2010 "Federal Control of Education on Steroids." This never discussed in Congress program required "college and career ready standards," for which Common Core was really the only choice. The standards were adopted mostly by appointed state commissioners and state boards of education instead of votes by elected state legislatures after admitted coercion by USED . The effects of Common Core have been disastrous, because the standards are academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative.  The aligned tests and curriculum funded and supervised by the federal government have violated the constitution and at least three federal laws.  Race to the Top has also given us expanded national preschool and data gathering.
  • Duncan also spread Common Core like a cancer via unconstitutional and illegal conditional waivers to No Child Left Behind.
  • Jeb Bush has been extremely close to and supportive of Duncan in the effort to spread Race to the Top, Common Core, and the elements of Bush's Florida reforms, very similar to the main elements of Race to the Top, across the nation

  • Duncan's department was also responsible for severe weakening of the already very outdated Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that has allowed the federal government and private entities to collect up to ten million data points per child per day sidestepping Congress and proceeding by regulatory fiat.
  • The secretary threatened states with high rates of parents trying to exercise their constitutional rights to control their children's education by opting out of federally mandated state tests.
  • Mr. Duncan also has removed state control of special education alternative assessments that is, according to experts like Dr. Gary Thompson, likely to have disastrous consequences for special education children.
Duncan is being replaced by former New York Education Commissioner John King whose tenure in New York imposing the Common Core standards and tests was so controversial that he resigned and was hired by Duncan to be an assistant secretary in the federal department.  King is perhaps most infamous for shutting down a public meeting when he could no longer handle parent anger about the Common Core standards and tests, and then canceling subsequent public meetings. The Washington Post calls him more controversial than Duncan.  King has been appointed as an acting secretary for the remainder of Obama's term so that Obama can again go around Congress and avoid a nomination fight.
The effect of Duncan's departure combined with key NCLB architect House Speaker John Boehner's surprise resignation announcement last week on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) rewrite is unclear.  Much of the education establishment, including the National Education Association and the National Education Association, wrote to the four primary congressional negotiators saying that it was important to pass something this session of Congress. There are many others including Duncan himself last week after Boehner's announcement, that are pessimistic that a deal can be finished but, there are others that say that these leaders should not stop negotiating and push something through as a legacy.   The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, joining groups across the nation, believes that anything that Democrats and this president would accept, given everything described above would seal Common Core and the related programs into place with little hope of returning education to parental or local control. 

TAE Publishes Article About Federal Curriculum in Race to the Top October, 2015

FSCCC is grateful to Shane Vander Hart of Truth in American Education for publishing Dr. Effrem's article on yet another federal statutory violation of the US Department of Education regarding federal curriculum and Race to the Top, the federal grant program that gave us Common Core, both heavily supported by Jeb Bush.


The arguments made by establishment proponents of Race to the Top and Common Core, including some presidential candidates continue to implode.  The well-worn chant that these were "state-led," "voluntary," "hijacked by the federal government," and especially that Common Core is "only standards" and "has nothing to do with curriculum" is dissolving into thin air.  That particular claim about curriculum has been absolutely shredded in the admission by former US Department of Education (USED) official, Joanne Weiss in an essay discussing the "lessons learned" from the whole effort to nationalize education standards via Race to the Top (RTTT).  Weiss actually brags that RTTT, a federal government program, produced curriculum:

"In addition, new curriculum materials funded through Race to the Top and released in 2014 are already in use in 20 percent of classrooms nationwide."(Emphasis added).

This is a clear violation of three federal laws that prohibit federal involvement in curriculum The Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA 20 U.S.C. § 7907(a)], The Department of Education Organization Act [20 U.S.C. § 3403(b)], and the General Education Provisions Act [GEPA 20 U.S.C. § 1232(a)].  Here is a sample of the language from GEPA, which is quite similar to the other two:

"No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, or personnel of educational institution, school, or school system..."  (Emphasis added).

Weiss' statement quoted above is a direct admission that USED is violating federal law.  It also completely contradicts statements from presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his now former group The Foundation for Excellence in Education, that Common Core, adoption of which was all but required for cash-starved states to be able to compete for Race to the Top funds, is only a set of standards and has nothing to do with curriculum.  The claim that Bush's foundation was attempting to debunk here is now shown to be truer than their so-called "fact:"
Claim: "Common Core means federal control of school curriculum, i.e., control by Obama administration left-wing bureaucrats."

Fact:  Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum.  States voluntarily chose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.
This revelation comes on the heels of an excellent article by Jane Robbins of American Principles in Action, quoting the same essay by USED's Weiss that that federal coercion was present from the beginning with the Race to the Top grant program by requiring alignment to the program:

" the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education -- by requiring each of them to sign their state's Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state's reform proposal."

Robbins rightly and clearly explained:

"But how to persuade the states they should adopt the Common Core national standards? Benchmarking [for Success] had a suggestion for that too: "As soon as possible, the federal government should offer new funding . . . to help underwrite the cost for states to take the [reforms] described above related to standards and assessment, curriculum, human capital, and accountability." (Emphasis added).

So the coercion described so cheerily by Weiss was actually part of the plan all along. By pushing particular standards and assessments onto the states through ties to RttT money, USED was able to impose its policy preferences, and those of the private entities that were calling the shots (indeed, Weiss herself had worked with one of those entities before being brought to USED by Secretary Arne Duncan).

As chronicled by Emmett McGroarty also of American Principles in Action, Bush was complementary of Obama's efforts to use federal money for grants to expand the federal role in education:

I think Secretary Duncan and President Obama deserve credit for putting pressure on states to change, particularly the states that haven't changed at all. They're providing carrots and sticks, and I think that's appropriate.
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition has documented much of the copious evidence of Jeb Bush's cooperation with the White House to help spread Common Core like a cancer across the nation...

...and to defend it and help the deceptive rebranding efforts in Florida saying to Secretary Arne Duncan in an email:
"He [Governor Rick Scott]  is fearful of the rebellion. Wants to stop using the term common core but keep the standards. Wants to get out of PARCC."

...and trying to say while campaigning for Governor Scott that Florida is out of Common Core while at the same time saying that the changes to Common Core were "not substantial."

Bush now says that Race to the Top is a problem of federal overreach, but that kind of rhetoric has only emerged since he started getting serious about running for president and especially since he started plummeting in the polls.  As shown above, in our analysis of the first debate, and chronicled by other writers like Stanly Kurtz of National Review, it is completely hollow and disingenuous.

The evidence that this strategy is not working is showing up in poll after poll.  As of September 23rd, Bush is behind in both state (including his home state of Florida where his unfavorable ratings are higher than his favorable ones), and national polls to candidates that have strongly and publicly repudiated Common Core and expanded involvement in education.

In addition, the public and Republican primary voters are not fooled by the governor's new-found love affair with the Tenth Amendment as evidenced by him receiving boos when speaking of Common Core and "high standards" at an event in South Carolina as well as polling data showing significant opposition to national standards not labeled Common Core:

"The latest decline in support for these standards does not arise simply from a politically tainted Common Core 'brand.' Among a second group of respondents who answered the same question but without the phrase 'Common Core,' support for the use of shared standards across the states slid from 68% in 2014 to 54% in 2015." (Emphasis added)

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times also provided evidence of that falsehood in an article titledJeb Bush's bond with Barack Obama on education poses 2016 challenge for him in January of this year that described Bush's support for federal involvement:

"I'm excited ... because I think for the first time in my political life, there seems to be more consensus than disagreement across the ideological spectrum about education reform," Bush said during a 2009 speech at an education forum in Nashville. "I'm very encouraged about Secretary Duncan's advocacy of challenging the status quo, and I'm excited that Republicans seem to be not wanting to get into a food fight about this but to join forces and to find common ground. . . . This is a huge opportunity."

...Today, the notion that the federal government was involved stems in part from Obama's "Race to the Top" grants that encouraged states to lift education standards and innovate...Bush supported competitive grants, though, his staff stressed, he opposed the overall stimulus from which the money came."

Leary's article also provided video of the now infamous meeting in Miami in 2011 where Bush introduced President Obama and Obama effusively praised Bush's education reform efforts: (starting at 5:19)

Obama "We are also honored to be joined here today by another champion of education reform, somebody who championed reform when he was in office and somebody who is now championing reform as a private citizen, Jeb Bush. We are grateful. We are grateful for him being here.  Aside from being a former governor of this great state, Jeb is best known as being the brother of Marvin Bush. Apparently the rest of the family also did some work back in Washington back in the day.  (Laughter) The truth is that I've gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service and we are so grateful to him for the work he has done on behalf of education.  So, thank you!"

The brazen fashion in which the Obama administration and Common Core's proponents in both parties, especially Clinton, Bush and Kasich, have promoted Common Core and the lawless and unconstitutional federal structures that have put those standards, tests, and curriculum in place while riding roughshod over parents and elected legislators is breathtaking.  The parents of America want a presidential candidate that will tell the truth; follow the Constitution and the rule of law; and reduce, not expand the federal footprint in education.

Florida Superintendents Excoriate Accountability System & Validity Study September, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

The latest volley in growing rebellion against Florida's out-of-control accountability system is a statement signed by 62 out of 67 of the state's superintendents saying the following:
"Florida district school superintendents have lost confidence in the current accountability system for the students of the State of Florida... We have witnessed the erosion of public support for an accountability system that was once a model for the nation. Florida school superintendents stand ready to work with all stakeholders and the Department of Education to develop a viable accountability system and regain the trust of our students, teachers, parents and communities. "

Their statement strongly urged the following:
  1. Suspend any application of the results from the spring 2015 administration of the FSA to students, teachers and schools.
  2. Issue an "I" (Incomplete) if necessary, to all Florida schools for 2014-2015, based upon the availability of limited and flawed data
  3. Reject  the  concept  that  the  standards  set  for  the  FSA  mirror  the  levels  of  the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
  4. Conduct an extensive review of the accountability system, including the multiple changes that have been implemented over the last several years.
"Teachers, parents and students have been experiencing this crisis first hand and are grateful that the Superintendents have added their voices to the outcry for a complete overhaul of how we test and how we use that data.
We ask that FADSS further their inquiry into the validity study and that they urge Legislators to release the burden of high stakes in their test and punish policies;  not just this year, but permanently."

This comes on the heel of widespread dissatisfaction with the validity study results and the fact that the Department of Education had access to the study before it was released but left no written evidence of what changes it sought.  Here are a few quotes:

"For all of these reasons FSCCC calls for the cancellation of the AIR contract and return of local control with districts choosing their own standards, tests, and curriculum as it was prior to 1994, given that federal and statewide interventions have done nothing to improve academic achievement or close gaps and much to harm students and teachers."

Florida Education Association - "The report noted that the testing season in 2015 was a mess, that the test results shouldn't be used as prominently as they are by the state and the questions from another state don't reflect Florida's standards," Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow said in a statement. "That's far from a ringing endorsement of the DOE's approach."

Former Republican legislator Paula Dockery:  "The so-called "validity" study begs more questions than it answers: Shouldn't we have validated the test before administering it? Why wasn't the proper load testing performed to test computer systems? Why were drafts of the "independent report" shared with the department prior to its release? Why isn't there a paper trail between Alpine and the Department of Education? Did the department change anything substantively in the report? How can the test results be validated for use in school grading and teacher evaluation but not for individual testing performance?

Isn't it time to learn from our mistakes? Let's take a timeout from high-stakes testing until the state gets it right."

Teacher and Psychometric Expert Darcey Addo Most importantly: Your child does not have to take the Florida Standards Assessment.
  • You can meet the graduation requirement with a concordant score on the ACT or SAT.
  • A comparative score on the PERT meets the "required" Algebra 1 EOC test requirement.
  • The FSA is punitive.
  • Results are used to punish teachers, students, schools, and districts.
  • The parent/guardian gets to make educational choices for your child. 
  • Opting Out is not about how well or poorly you believe your child will do, it's about denying the data that continues to keep this test crazy machine moving.
Despite this overwhelming pushback, Commissioner Stewart and Florida legislative leaders in education are completely tone deaf and appear unconcerned about the damage that this system is doing to the education system in Florida. Commissioner Stewart and the FLDOE put out a propaganda piece full of straw man arguments in order to dance around the unpleasant aspects of the allegedly independent review that they reviewed twice before its release.  Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg after holding one brief hearing where there was only five minutes to hold Commissioner Stewart accountable for the disastrous 2015 Florida testing season and the extremely questionable involvement of the FLDOE with Alpine before the allegedly independent report was released, said that he was "ready to move on" and that he saw now legislative way to block the release of the school grades in December.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene O'Toole and her committee had no probing questions for the commissioner about the testing failures or the validity study, but instead gave her kudos and a thank you note.  In addition, O'Toole made it plain that parents have no rights and nor choice in the testing and education of their children and if they were to opt out or minimally participate that they should leave the public schools:
John Cerebino of the Palm Beach Post responded with a column showing the hypocrisy of the legislature and state government by listing numerous examples of how they had opted out of several duly passed laws and constitutional amendments.  We would add to his list the fact that Commissioner Stewart had opted out of the load testing law resulting in incredible pain for thousands of Florida students who could not take their tests on computer.  The legislature also opted out of holding FLDOE accountable by watering down the original validity amendment that also required enforcement of this load testing law ironically authored by Senator Legg. Cerebino finished his column this way:

This is way harder than I thought. Finding examples to illustrate why "opting out" is not tolerated in Florida is a fruitless exercise.
Except for you, parents. You're not allowed. Just take it from the people who have made opting out their default mode of governing.
Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano rightly laid this entire accountability and validity mess at the feet of Jeb Bush and his ill-conceived accountability system upon which he is basing much of his presidential campaign:

This is what has come of the state's zealous adherence to Jeb Bush's educational reforms. Lawmakers have taken potential solutions and rammed them so far down the throats of parents and educators that additional discussion is nearly impossible.The result is conflict. And confusion. And a generation of students being used as political pawns. It's gotten so twisted that we've forgotten the original debate.

Too many parents now see higher curriculum standards and statewide tests as inherently evil, and that's a shame. There's nothing wrong with testing students. And there's certainly nothing wrong with aiming higher.

The problem is, our Legislature has destroyed the value of these concepts with nonsensical overkill. They've given standardized tests -- and thus the specific curriculum they are based on -- so much weight in classrooms, budgets and careers that these reforms have swallowed education.
Romano also pointed out Bush's hypocrisy regarding his support for using public school tax dollars for private school choice while denying public school parents any choice on testing:

The PDK/Gallup poll on public schools has been measuring American attitudes on education since 1969. The latest poll seems to confirm what grass roots parents groups have been shouting about for quite some time:

There's too much high-stakes testing in schools.

When Bush talks about parental choice, he's pushing the idea of using tax dollars to create more charter schools or vouchers for private schools. Yet, when it comes to standardized tests and all of their ramifications assigned by politicians, he sees no room for choice or compromise for these same parents.
Perhaps this is why Jeb Bush is running behind both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio in Florida in the most recent Florida Atlantic University poll and why more people view him unfavorably than favorably in that same poll:

Politicians in Florida and presidential candidates like Bush refuse to listen at great harm to the state of Florida and to their own political peril.

Bush is Booed in South Carolina as Support for Common Core Continues to Plummet September, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD, Executive Director

Jeb Bush's support continues to sink parallel to the loss of popularity of the Common Core standards that he continues to support.  His strategy of new found federalism, trying to convince conservatives that he opposes federal overreach was extremely unsuccessful at the first presidential debate in August where about the only group who thought he had a good debate was his own campaign.  That same trick was even more unsuccessful at the September 18th Heritage Action Forum in South Carolina where he received a softball question on Common Core by one of the moderators, South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley.  The sophisticated conservative crowd in no way accepted his deception and actually booed him as he tried to give his canned answer.   Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples and Bill Barrows described it this way:

Even among a friendly crowd, there were tense moments.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush triggered boos when he defended his early support for the Common Core education standards, a policy developed by state leaders in both parties that has become a target of tea party ire.
"I'm for higher standards, and Common Core standards are higher than the standards that exist," Bush said before being interrupted by boos. "If South Carolina wants to be without Common Core standards, great, just make sure the standards that you apply are higher than the ones before you had Common Core. Standards matter. Accountability matters."

The contrast in the levels of applause and support for Bush (22:17) and a strongly anti-Common Core candidate like Ted Cruz (1:36:34) at this event was striking.  While Bush had a few people in the front rows stand up when he finished, the applause was brief and merely polite.  When Cruz, who has called at other events for the abolition of the Department of Education and has vowed to end federal support and promotion for Common Core, finished his remarks, the ovation was widespread, raucous and sustained.  The AP encapsulated Bush's problem this way:

"The event was awash in fiery rhetoric, but no candidate has struggled more with his party's conservative base than Bush.

'He could perform like Superman in the debates, but he's dead in the water with the tea party and the base generally," said tea party movement co-founder Mark Meckler. "He's the only candidate they absolutely loathe.'"

Bush seems to think that if he can continue to avoid using the term "Common Core" or continue trumpeting his new- found love affair with the Tenth Amendment, that he can pull the wool over the eyes of Republican primary voters.  Yet, his reception in South Carolina coupled with his poll numbers and the release of this year's Education Next poll on Common Core released in August shows that this is not likely.  In fact, the poll also showed that avoiding using the term "Common Core" that Bush has called "poisonous" does not preserve support for the national standards (H/T The Pulse 2016):

"The latest decline in support for these standards does not arise simply from a politically tainted Common Core 'brand.' Among a second group of respondents who answered the same question but without the phrase 'Common Core,' support for the use of shared standards across the states slid from 68% in 2014 to 54% in 2015." (Emphasis added)
This also indicates that Jeb Bush's efforts to help Rick Scott stay out of political trouble on Common Core during his 2014 re-election campaign and his efforts around the country to rebrand Common Core  that have been lauded by the Obama White House are not fooling people.

As shown in this Brookings Institute graph about the study's numbers, support for these horrific standards continues to decline while opposition continues to increase as people learn more about them and they see the kind of skewed, low quality aligned curriculum that comes home in their children's backpacks:
The opposition is now becoming more bipartisan.  Brookings said:

But this year, support among Democrats dropped six points and opposition increased by eight points. President Obama and numerous other Democratic officials have served as the standards most ardent boosters. If support for the standards continues its decline then the probability of politicians abandoning the national standards project will increase.  (Emphasis added).

This means that current Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton is not likely to be helped by her support of Common Core. Additionally, The Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll also shows considerable opposition in all demographic groups:

Both polls stressed the strong preference of respondents to have state or local, not federal, agencies in charge of standards, accountability, and curriculum.  Although there are many other important issues in the presidential election, how the candidates actually carry out their claims to support local control and the efforts to decrease the federal footprint in education to its proper constitutional role will be extremely important to voters. It also seems highly unlikely that the biggest Common Core supporters in the race - Bush, Kasich, and Clinton are unlikely to significantly change their position to their grave political peril.

California Department of Education Admits Total Lack of Validity & Reliability Data for AIR’s SBAC September, 2015

In astonishing public testimony before the California State Board of Education on 9/3/15, retired testing specialist and psychometrician Dr. Doug McRae gave evidence that the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) statewide test given in the spring of 2015 had absolutely no validity, reliability, or fairness data available in the entire department.  SBAC is one of two federally funded, federally supervised national tests developed to assess the Common Core standards in English and math, PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), the test that Florida was about to adopt until Governor Scott removed the state from the PARCC consortium and the test by AIR (American Institutes for Research) was adopted instead. AIR is also responsible for the computer adaptive testing platform for SBAC as documented in their Florida testing contract:

We are pleased to be able to offer a mature solution. AIR has been delivering adaptive and fixed-form online tests for 7 years. In addition to millions of operational tests in Oregon, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Ohio, our  online testing system recently delivered the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium's pilot test to over half a million students across 21 states. This spring, we will serve approximately 5 million Smarter Balanced students Our system is versatile, works well within schools, and is easy to use--all characteristics that enable us to extend service to so many states, schools, and students in such short order.

We have documented many, many problems with AIR and its tests, including a focus on controversial social issues instead of academics, basing and field testing Florida's test on AIR's Utah Common Core test, which is also completely devoid of validity data, and the necessity for a validity study that was supposed to be completed before the administration of the 2015 AIR test in Florida necessitating the completion of a $600,000 study after the test was given.  That validity study was also fraught with major problems which are documented HERE.

Here is Dr. McRae's amazing and very important statement:

"My name is Doug McRae, a retired testing specialist from Monterey.

The big question for Smarter Balanced test results is not the delay in release of the scores, or the relationships to old STAR data on the CDE website, but rather the quality of the Smarter Balanced scores now being provided to local districts and schools. These scores should be valid reliable and fair, as required by California statute as well as professional standards for large scale K-12 assessments.

When I made a Public Records Request to the CDE last winter for documentation of validity reliability and fairness information for Smarter Balanced tests, either in CDE files or obtainable from the Smarter Balanced consortium, the reply letter in January said CDE had no such information in their files. I provided a copy of this interchange to the State Board at your January meeting. There has been no documentation for the validity, reliability, or fairness for Smarter Balanced tests released by Smarter Balanced, UCLA, or CDE since January, as far as I know.

Statewide test results should not be released in the absence of documented validity reliability and fairness of scores. Individual student reports should not be shared with parents or students before the technical quality of the scores is documented.  But, the real longer lasting damage will be done if substandard information is placed in student cumulative academic records to follow students for their remaining years in school, to do damage for placement and instructional decisions and opportunities to learn, for years to come. To allow this to happen would be immoral, unethical, unprofessional, and to say the least, totally irresponsible. I would urge the State Board to take action today to prevent or (at the very least) to discourage local districts from placing 2015 Smarter Balanced scores in student permanent records until validity reliability and fairness characteristics are documented and made available to the public." [Emphasis added]

This, combined with the total lack of validity of AIR's Utah test that is based on the SBAC test, is even more evidence that the contract with AIR should be cancelled and that Florida should return to tried and true pre-Common Core nationally norm referenced tests administered on paper.   It is also major evidence that the federal mandate for annual testing should be removed.

CNS News Interviews Dr. Effrem About 'Parent Replacement Centers' Amendment in ECAA August, 2015

Many thanks to Barbara Hollingsworth for her excellent and in-depth article about Senator Sharrod Brown's amendment that passed in the Senate No Child Left Behind Rewrite called the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).  This amendment continues funding for the very nanny state program called The Full Service Community.  Here is our description from the summary of ECAA:

Brown amendment (SA 2100) to restore the Full Service Community Schools grants from NCLB Despite Alexander's opposition, the horrific grant program that turns schools into a second or even first home for children and reduces parents to "breeders and feeders," passed 43-51.  Among the purposes of the program are to "ensure that children have the physical, social, and emotional well-being to come to school ready to engage in the learning process every day."  The grantee is supposed to do a means assessment that "identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents," which will include all sorts of mental health data gathering. The list  of services that can be offered is 23 items long and included mental health services and "other services consistent with this part." All of the Democrats plus Republicans Ayotte, Blunt (MO), Capito, Collins, Fischer (NE), Hoeven (ND), Isakson (GA), and Portman voted for this nanny state expansion while all of the rest of the Republicans, including presidential candidates Cruz and Paul wisely voted against it, Sanders voted for it, and Graham and Rubio did not vote.

Here is her description:

The U.S. Department of Education's Full Service Community Schools Program has awarded $55.2 million to various applicants since FY 2008, with preference given to groups that operate in the White House's designated Promise Zones.
The department filed a notice in the Federal Register on May 6 soliciting applications for the program, which will be paid for by The Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE).

Applicants, defined as "consortia consisting of a local educational agency and one or more community-based organizations," can request up to $500,000 for each of five years, for a maximum of $2.5 million. So far this year, the department has awarded 12 grants totaling $5.2 million.

According to the Coalition for Community Schools, there are an estimated 5,000 full service community schools currently in operation in the U.S. "Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities," the group's website states.

Brown's amendment would extend funding for five years for schools that participate "in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships."

According to his bill, such schools must agree to provide "not less than 3 qualified services ...and not less than 2 additional qualified services" to students both before and after school, on the weekends and during the summer "to meet the holistic needs of children".

The type of services that would be provided are based on a "needs assessment that identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents."

Here is Dr. Effrem's discussion of the mental health and indoctrination concerns with this program:
This is basically the government schools taking over the duties of families. It's very scary," agreed Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch."At least the House was strong and wise enough not to allow such an amendment," which she says "turns schools into a second or even first home for children and reduces parents to 'breeders and feeders'.

 "I have been fighting against both the data-mining of students and the psychological profiling of students for many years," Effrem told "This program is horrible because it continues the great expansion of federal psychological profiling of children, and it also will result in a ton of data-mining of students and their families about very non-academic subjects.
"It will not only run your life, but control what your kids are taught," she said. "A big part of it is the mental health screenings of children and families that really opens the door for a tyrannical imposition of thought and conscience norms by the government.  
"The National Center for Education Statistics and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education are already collecting data on bullying incidents that have to do with perceived gender identity and sexual orientation. And there are already violence prevention programs that talk about kids as potentially violent or mentally unstable if they make statements about LGBT students or religion," Effrem pointed out.

"Of course, this is incredibly subjective and open to all sorts of political correctness. Who's going to define what the norms are?" she asked.

This is all the more evidence that the conference report from these bills needs to be defeated!

How Can FSA be Validated When Based on Utah SAGE Test That Has No Validity Data Either? August, 2015

Orlando Sentinel Education reporter Leslie Postal revealed evidence that Florida district officials expect few clear answers from the $600,000 taxpayer funded validity study of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). 

Postal described what the hired company was evaluating as follows:

The monthly report filed July 31 detailed meetings the testing company officials have held with staff from the Florida Department of Education and with school district administrators, who've been asked for their feedback on the 2015 administration of the FSA.

It noted the companies have collected more than 650 documents related to the FSA and looked at more than 200 test items, studying whether they met "best practices in assessment design," used appropriate language for the grade level, targeted "intended depth of knowledge" and were free of bias.

The firms also have looked at how FSA questions, leased from Utah's state test, were field tested.

The only problem is that there is abundant evidence already submitted to the Florida Senate that there have been no validation studies done of the Utah tests.  That evidence includes the offer of $100,000.00 from the psychology practice of Dr. Gary Thompson for evidence from the Utah State office of Education. The evidence also includes the following letter sent from Utah district board members to Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) who worked with Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) to craft the validity amendment that required this study after it became obvious that neither the Utah nor the FSA were validated prior to administration to Florida students:

The company is not giving any hints about the actual validity of the test, only what it is doing to try to assess it. This led an Orange County testing official to give the most important quote of the article at the end when he admitted that there would likely be little concrete evidence of validity:

But company officials have given no hint about whether they think the FSA is a well-put together and valid exam or if they've spotted problems.

"Those monthly reports haven't really said anything about what they've been finding but what they'be been doing," said Brandon McKelvey, the Orange County school district's senior director of accountability, at a recent school board meeting.
McKelvey said the final report should provide some answers but also likely will be more technical then many educators and parents (and reporters) would like.

After all, it's an "independent verification of the psychometric validity" of the FSA.

"The first page will not have in giant red letters valid or not valid," he said.  (Emphasis added).

This kind of statement is being used to dampen expectations.  It also mirrors the likely path that occurred with the FCAT.  During the 2015 legislative session, when they were supposed to be providing promised validity data for the FSA/Utah SAGE test, the FLDOE sent Senator Simmons a validity document from the end of 2014 regarding the long used FCAT and EOC tests showing that even after more than a decade of use, there were still doubts about how valid these established tests were for the high stakes purposes for which they were used:

Less strong is the empirical evidence for extrapolation and implication. This is due in part to the absence of criterion studies. Because an ideal criterion for the FCAT 2.0 or EOC assessments probably cannot be found, empirical evidence for the extrapolation argument may need to come from several studies showing convergent validity evidence. Further studies are also needed to verify some implication arguments. This is especially true for the inference that the state's accountability program is making a positive impact on student proficiency and school accountability without causing unintended negative consequences. (Emphasis added).

This is a very important admission that the FCAT after all of its years of use should not have been used to make such high stakes decisions because of lack of validity evidence. Multiple pieces of evidence shows that even a long used test is not "making a positive impact on student proficiency."  This evidence included the quote from a letter signed by 500 university professors casting doubt on the efficacy of high stakes testing, a chart showing ACT scores have actually declined under the Bush high stakes accountability regime,and two more charts showing that Florida's ranking on the NAEP in comparison to other states has also leveled off or declined:

"The broad consensus among researchers is that this system [NCLB and RTTT] is at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. The issues now being debated in Washington largely ignore these facts about the failure of test-based educational reform, and the proposals now on the table simply gild, rather than transform, a strategy with little or no promise...

...The ultimate question we should be asking isn't whether test scores are good measures of learning, whether growth modeling captures what we want it to, or even whether test scores are increasing; it is whether the overall impact of the reform approach can improve or is improving education. Boosting test scores can, as we have all learned, be accomplished in lots of different ways, some of which focus on real learning but many of which do not. An incremental increase in reading or math scores means almost nothing, particularly if children's engagement is decreased; if test-prep comes at a substantial cost to science, civics, and the arts; and if the focus of schooling as a whole shifts from learning to testing."

Florida's well-documented rise in education performance relative to other states ended abruptly around 2009. Our analysis shows that from 1996 to 2009, Florida posted the 2nd largest gains of any state on the NAEP exams, taking the state from 39th to 24th in the country1. Since then, education performance has stagnated relative to other states, leaving Florida stuck at "about average" performance 26th in 2013 (From Cota and Donalds - Memorandum: High-stakes testing and lost instructional time 3/24//15 - pages 4-5)

" 2013 the 4th grade cohort from 2009 took the NAEP as 8th graders and failed to sustain their position relative to other states. These students dropped from 10th when they were 4th graders to 33rd as 8th graders." (From Cota and Donalds - Memorandum: High-stakes testing and lost instructional time 3/24//15 - pages 6-7)
Stating that it is a long process that will be adjusted depending on the results of the validity study, the FL DOE admitted yesterday that they are convening meetings with teachers to set the cut scores (which score counts for the various achievement levels of 1-5)  for the tests on August 31st, one day before the validity study is due, but in a prompt and courteous email from the department stated they will wait until the study is completed. We are working to find out if the public will be able to attend the educator meetings or only the rule development meetings after the cut scores are established by the teachers and business people.  Hopefully this is not another glaring example of how the department continues to skirt the truth (evidence of validity), flout the law (load testing), or deceptively rebrand the standards and proceed with the implementation of Common Core and its aligned assessments no matter what.  The process will have to be followed closely.  Stay tuned!

Washington Post Reveals New Evidence of Jeb Bush Joint Effort with Obama on Common Core August, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Many thanks to Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog for confirming and expanding the detail of our previous posts about Jeb Bush's close working relationship with the Obama White House to spread the cancer of Common Core throughout the country:

It is also now very evident that Bush's effort to blame Obama for the opposition to Common Core was purely a cynical political move.  And the same is true of Bush's phony federalism claims in the August 6th GOP debate that he does not support federal involvement in standards and curriculum.

The Strauss post includes a tweet by former Obama administration aid Dan Pfeiffer thanking Bush for heFAlping to expand Common Core throughout the nation:

This coincides with the revelation of the 2013 Bush email exchange with Arne Duncan where Duncan asked for guidance on how to deal with Governor Rick Scott's similarly politically motivated move to pull Florida out of the federally funded and supervised PARCC testing consortium:

Now there are several new pieces of evidence showing that fraud.  Buzzfeed found emails between Bush and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan showing both Bush's stature in controlling and implementing Common Core in Florida and across the nation as well as Governor Rick Scott's true intentions to merely change the name of Common Core instead of getting rid of it in order to be re-elected. The key phrase in Bush's reply to Duncan's request for advice is that Scott was "fear[ful] of the rebellion" for his re-election, but apparently not enough to really do something, because as Bush describes and history shows, all he did most likely with Bush's advice, was "stop using the term common core but keep the standards." (Emphasis added).
During Scott's 2014 campaign, Bush tried to join in the deception that Common Core had been removed from Florida, but actually spilled the beans and admitted that the changes to the Common Core standards were not significant:

In addition, Bush's campaign ad for Scott did not mention Common Core or standards at all.

The Strauss piece also contained some excellent quotes of President Obama praising Bush in 2011 for his work on the corporate Common Core education reform:

This isn't the first time the Obama administration has praised Jeb Bush for his education policies. In fact, on March 4, 2011, Obama himself shared a stage with Bush at Miami Central High School. Bush said he was honored to welcome Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, whom he thanked for his "commitment and service to our country," and Bush said he agreed with Obama on the importance of school reform:
"Mr. President, as you have said, education achievement is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It is an issue of national priority."
Obama then praised Bush as a "champion" of school reform, saying:
We are also honored to be joined here today by another champion of education reform, somebody who championed reform when he was in office, somebody who is now championing reform as a private citizen -- Jeb Bush. (Applause.) And we are grateful -- we're grateful for him being here. Aside from being a former governor of this great state, Jeb, of course is best known as the brother of Marvin Bush. (Laughter.) Apparently the rest of the family also did some work back in Washington back in the day. (Laughter.) The truth is I've gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service. And we are so grateful to him for the work that he's doing on behalf of education. So, thank you, Jeb.

This is all the more evidence that Jeb Bush completely supports the implementation of Common Core by whatever means necessary, that his claims of educational federalism are completely hollow,  that he will do or say whatever it takes to win the nomination, regardless of the facts and the truth, and that if Jeb Bush is the 2016 Republican nominee, there will be no difference between him and Hillary Clinton on Common Core and the unconstituional federal control of education.

In GOP Debate Jeb Bush Continues Deceptive Statements on Common Core & FedEd While Rubio Clearly Opposes Federal Instrusion August, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

The highly anticipated and widely watched Fox News GOP primary debate contained one major exchange on Common Core that occurred between two of the top-tier presidential candidates from Florida, former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.  There is a transcript available and here is the video:

Bush's responses on this critical issue continue to be problematic from several perspectives.  First, while it is nice that he said that he did not agree with US Secretary Arne Duncan's statement that the opposition to Common Core is mostly from a "fringe group of critics," that is a fairly recent change from his venomous attacks against parents and teachers that disagree with him before he made his presidential aspirations publicly known:

Keynote Speech
at his Foundation for Excellence in Education Summit 10/17/13:
"I understand there are those opposed to the standards. But what I want to hear from them is more than just opposition. I want to hear their solutions for the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created group mediocrity in our schools.
Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers. (Emphasis added)."

Interview in the Wall Street Journal
(12/1/14) as Quoted in FSCCC Article Potential Bush III "Has Lost His Patience" with We Lowly Common Core Critics (12/5/14)
Instead of trying to deal with the myriad logical academic, developmental, psychological, and privacy problems of the Common Core system, as stated in a recent Wall Street Journal interview reported in Ben Shapiro's Truth Revolt, he had another of what Michelle Malkin had described as a "Common Core snit fit."  Jeb whined that he has "lost [his] patience," describing to the Journal, "an unwillingness of special interests to improve public education."
The Wall Street Journal further reported:
"He reiterated his support for higher academic standards--whether they are the Common Core national standards or other equally rigorous benchmarks--and for testing to measure whether students are meeting them.  'If you don't measure, you really don't care,' he said."

Secondly, despite his protestations about being against federal overreach, he has supported the actions of his father and brother to greatly expand the federal role in education via the World Declaration on Education for All and America 2000 (George HW Bush) that led to the federal mandate of statewide standards and tests for the first time in American history and No Child Left Behind (George W Bush) that has given us the federal annual testing mandate and data collection.  Jeb also worked with Arne Duncan to support Race to the Top, still supports the standards incorrectly portraying them as high without documentation,  is in support of the heinous Every Child Achieves Act, and has tried to tell Republican activists ignorantly or deceptively  that the federal overreach into standards is fixed:

Details provided in the list by American Principles Project show how the prohibition on federal involvement with standards are completely false.  This is especially important because presidential candidate Jeb Bush is perpetuating the falsehood that the prohibitions against federal control of standards are real.  In the following audio clip from a conference call with Alabama Republicans, Bush bragged about how he got his good buddy Lamar Alexander to put this prohibition in the Senate bill (listen starting at 2:32).

The problem is that this type of prohibition was already in federal law in three places.  That did not stop the current administration from bribing and blackmailing states to adopt Common Core.  In addition, neither the old nor the new language contains any enforcement mechanism for the states that are coerced or bribed.  Either Jeb Bush is ignorant of this situation or he is knowingly participating in the deception.  Neither situation reflects well on him, especially since he is running for president and portrays himself as such an education guru.

On this point, Bush is really no different than Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who as a US senator was on the conference committee that gave us No Child Left Behind and recently supported Common Core at a campaign event.


Finally, Jeb Bush, knowing how unpopular it is, tried to deflect away from Common Core and talk about his education record while governor of Florida mentioning his third grade retention policies and the better reading scores of minority fourth grade students.  What people do not seem to understand is that of course the scores would be better if his policies required the removal and retention of those students scoring lowest because they were removed from the pool of students tested. There also is no evidence that retention is helpful and some that it is harmful.  He also somehow failed to mention that high school ACT scores declined in Florida under his watch and have not significantly improved, being significantly below the national average in 2013 and ranking 47th out of the 50 states.

Marco Rubio did an excellent job of clearly and succinctly explaining the problem with Common Core and federal involvement in standards:

"We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.

Here's the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is: "You will not get federal money unless you do things the way we want you to do it." And they will use common core or any other requirement that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people and our states."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also said he opposed federal involvement in education:

"And the fact is there are a lot of things happening at the federal level that are absolutely beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution. This is power that should be shifted back to the states, whether it's the EPA, there is no role at the federal level for the Department of Education."
Unfortunately, many question Huckabee's sincerity on opposition to Common Core given his multiple statements on both sides of that issue as described by Andrew Johnson in National Review:
But the rising concern over Common Core is one challenge Huckabee will have to face that he didn't have to worry about in 2008. While never an outright champion of Common Core, Huckabee has publicly offered support for the proposal in the past. He has praised the standards for having been developed by governors and state education officials. In 2013, he sent a letter to Oklahoma state lawmakers ahead of a vote that would dump Common Core, encouraging them "to resist any attempt to delay implementation" of the standards. And last year, the Washington Post reported that Huckabee urged an organization that helped develop the standards to "rebrand" Common Core, because the name had become "toxic."

Huckabee was and Bush still is listed on a website as in favor of Common Core that mock opponents of the standards and was trying to convince Louisiana legislators to not repeal the standards that said, "Unicorns are not real. Neither are most of the things you have heard about the Common Core State Standards."  Huckabee later had his name taken off the list apparently to give the appearance that he now opposes the standards, but major activists like Shane Vander Hart were still skeptical. Here is another example of contradictory statements coming from Huckabee:

None of the other candidates were really given questions about education to show what they know, believe or would do about this critical issue.Despite crowing by Bush campaign surrogates, no major pundit thought he had a stelllar or break-out performance.  In fact, The Hill called him a loser in the debate, as did several other sources, The Fox News Special Report panel both right after and the next night barely mentioned him.

This is only the first debate, so hopefully there will be many more opportunities to discuss Common Core and what the federal role in education should be.  Please stay tuned!

Senate Passes Disastrous ECAA with One Small Bright Spot July, 2015

The Senate rewrite of No Child Left Behind called the Every Child Achieves Act yesterday by a vote of 81-17. Three of the four presidential candidates in the Senate, Cruz (R-TX), Paul (R-KY), and Rubio (R-FL) voted against this terrible bill.  Graham (R-SC) did not vote. The other Florida Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, was not present for any deliberations on this bill because hs ie recovering from cancer surgery.

The bill is still completely unacceptable and has many fatal problems, which we have detailed before and more information will be coming about amendments that passed during floor action, but there was one small ray of hope detailed in this statement put out by Emmett McGroarty of American Principles in Action and Dr. Effrem, executive director of FSCCC:

On Wednesday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) won approval on S.AMDT 2201, an amendment to S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which reauthorizes No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The amendment fixes one of the defects of ECAA an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests "do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information."

Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at American Principles in Action, said, "We are pleased that Senator Alexander has heard the concerns of parents and citizens and reinstated the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments. This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children."

Karen Effrem, M.D., president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, added, "We hope this is an indication that Congress is going to rein in the many other places in ECAA, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), and in early childhood programs where federal regulation authorizes the federal government to collect personal information on the dispositions, emotions, and attitudes of American children."


CALL NOW! US Senate Plans to Ram Through Final Debate on #ECAA Supported by Jeb Bush VERY SOON! July, 2015

There were rumors that the final votes on amendments and passage for the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) could have been as early as TODAY or at the latest by Wednesday (July 15th). Apparently because parents and teachers have seen through the shiny but false promises about how this Senate reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), restores state sovereignty and parental control, is an improvement over NCLB, and supposedly lets states out of Common Core, the plan is to finish the bill before more opposition can be raised by those of us who know the truth and oppose this bill. 

Details provided in the list by American Principles Project show how the prohibition on federal involvement with standards are completely false.  This is especially important because presidential candidate Jeb Bush is perpetuating the falsehood that the prohibitions against federal control of standards are real.  In the following audio clip from a conference call with Alabama Republicans, Bush bragged about how he got his good buddy Lamar Alexander to put this prohibition in the Senate bill (listen starting at 2:32).

The problem is that this type of prohibition was already in federal law in three places.  That did not stop the current administration from bribing and blackmailing states to adopt Common Core.  In addition neither the old nor the new language contains any enforcement mechanism for the states that are coerced or bribed.  Either Jeb Bush is ignorant of this situation or he is knowingly participating in the deception.  Neither situation reflects well on him, especially since he is running for president and portrays himself as such an education guru.


As we have chronicled in detail before, the other problems with and dangers of this bill are almost too numerous to count, especially in the areas of psychological profiling and expansion of federally controlled invasive early childhood programs.  These provisions are further evidence that promised protections for states, districts, family autonomy, teacher control and student privacy are false.
The  House passed their NCLB rewrite by a very narrow margin of  218-213 that required much arm twisting. We thank Reps. Buchanan, Clawson, DeSantis, Miller, and Yoho as well as all the Democrats for voting no on HR 5 from the Florida Delegation!

So if and when this Senate bill passes, the two will have to go to conference committee and we will all have to be alert and do our best to continue to educate members of Congress.

Here is what you can do now:
1) In Florida, please immediately call Senators Marco Rubio (202-224-3041 @marcorubio) and Bill Nelson (202-224-5274 @SenBillNelson) and urge them to vote NO on S 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act.  If you wish to call other Senators, the list of phone numbers is available HERE.

2) If you are on Twitter, go to the Patriot Journalist link and tweet every single US Senator and urge them to vote NO.

3) Watch the debate as you can on C-SPAN 2 and respond on social media.

4) Contact all of your friends and family to take the above three steps!

4) Support our work! You may donate on the Paypal tab on the front page of this site or send a non-deductible check made out to:
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc.
116 Cousley Drive SE
Port Charlotte, FL 33952


Jeb Officially Enters Presidential Race As He Leads Our Children Off the Common Core Cliff June, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Jeb Bush has done what everyone knew was coming for the last six months by officially entering the race for president during a speech in Miami on June 15th.  He finally decided to quit skirting campaign finance law to raise millions of dollars and coordinate with his PAC by not being a declared candidate. Bush's questionable tactics have been called out by Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith and many others. 

Despite being the first candidate to even mention running, his family name and connections, and the huge amount of money already raised, Bush is not maintaining the aura of a front runner at all. Sunshine State News political reporter Kevin Derby has rightfully noted that Bush's "shock and awe" campaign has failed to clear the decks of other contenders. A Monmouth University Poll released on the same day as his announcement showed Bush in third place behind Dr. Ben Carson and Governor Scott Walker in a tight cluster of candidates with no clear front runner:
The latest Monmouth University Poll found that "undecided" is the most popular response when Republican voters nationwide are asked who they support as their party's standard bearer. It remains difficult even to identify a clear "top tier" in the field of 16 possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates...
...While former governor Jeb Bush formally announces his candidacy today, it is fellow Floridian and current U.S. senator Marco Rubio who seems to have enjoyed greater momentum in the past few weeks. When asked to name who they would like to see as the party's nominee for president, Republican and Republican-leaning voters are divided among commentator Dr. Ben Carson (11%), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (10%), Bush (9%), Rubio (9%), and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (8%). Other preferences include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (6%), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (5%), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (4%), former Texas Governor Rick Perry (4%), former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (3%), businesswoman Carly Fiorina (2%), South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (2%), and businessman Donald Trump (2%).

Unlike other presidential campaigns, education is a major issue this time. When discussing Bush's lackluster performance so far, his education position supporting Common Core or in an effort to avoid Common Core's toxicity, what he now euphemistically calls "high standards" is always mentioned or inferred:
Smith said on Bush's announcement day, "Money and establishment support usually wins out, but Bush is running in a very different Republican Party than his brother did in 2000 and his father did in 1988. The conservative grass roots has wrested considerable power away from the party elites, and Bush must overcome not just name fatigue, but also fierce hostility to his positions on hot-button issues like education and immigration."
The Washington Post in an article titled, "How Jeb Bush's campaign ran off course before it even began" said, "On the stump, Bush has stuck to his pledge not to shift to the right to win the nomination, but his middle-of-the-road positions on immigration and education have come off more as out of step with the base of his party than shrewdly pragmatic."

Chris Christie, one of the few remaining Common Core supporters among declared or possible presidential candidates and once as staunch a defender of the Common Core standards as Bush, has come to see them as a political liability.  He has gone from "having grave concerns" to just recently fully renouncing them as "not working" in New Jersey.


From Tallahassee to Washington DC, evidence of both Jeb Bush's and the state of Florida's deception regarding their role in Common Core and the idea that Florida is out of Common Core continues to mount.  We have chronicled the many quotes from  the media, Commissioner Pam Stewart and other education officials, former Speaker Weatherford and especially Jeb Bush who tried to say that Florida was out of Common Core while admitting as he campaigned for Governor Rick Scott last fall that the changes to Common Core that became the Florida Standards were "insignificant."

Now there are several new pieces of evidence showing that fraud.  Buzzfeed found emails between Bush and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan showing both Bush's stature in controlling and implementing Common Core in Florida and across the nation as well as Governor Rick Scott's true intentions to merely change the name of Common Core instead of getting rid of it in order to be re-elected. The key phrase in Bush's reply to Duncan's request for advice is that Scott was "fear[ful] of the rebellion" for his re-election, but apparently not enough to really do something, because as Bush describes and history shows, all he did most likely with Bush's advice, was "stop using the term common core but keep the standards." (Emphasis added).

In another piece of hypocrisy, Bush, in his effort to sound conciliatory about conservatives' main concern about Common Core, has been saying that the federal government should have no role in standards.  However, this statement is very disingenuous, because besides supporting Common Core, Bush is also supporting the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education law his brother signed. Both the House and Senate bills actually cement federal government control. That position is also getting him in trouble with the conservative base, because even though there is a prohibition against federal interference with standards like Common Core, there are still continued federal mandates requiring statewide standards and tests. The Hill reports:

The intraparty fight over whether to reform or gut No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is putting renewed focus on Bush's status as the lone top-tier GOP presidential hopeful still backing the Common Core state education standards for reading and math.

Bush's conservative critics on Capitol Hill say he's simply out of step with the party when it comes to education.

"It's about federal control of education, whether it's watered-down federal control or No Child Left Behind federal control," said conservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who is supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in the 2016 presidential race. Bush is going to "have a hard time with Republican voters with a position like that.

"If you have a position on No Child Left Behind or Common Core that is contrary to the wishes of the majority of Republican voters, you're going to have a problem," Amash said.

Here are a few of the many other reasons for parents and teachers to be concerned about the reauthorizations of NCLB and voters to be concerned about Bush's support for these bills:
  1. Continues the master-servant relationship between the U. S. Department of Education (USED) and the states, requiring state plans and giving the Secretary enormous authority to approve or disapprove them.
  2. Does nothing to stop the planned psychological profiling of students' "mindsets" and "grit" in the NAEP test.
  3. Removes the prohibition against statewide tests that "evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes" in the House bill and greatly expands psychological screening in the Senate bill
  4. Considers a state legislature to have waived "the State's rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary" if the legislature even approves an overall state budget that includes any money from the federal education programs.
  5. Relies on an outdated and severely weakened federal privacy law (FERPA).
  6. Diminishes parental authority to the right to "participate in" not control -- the education of their children.
Finally, There is great and justifiable alarm about the new APUSH framework that portrays America as racist, discriminatory, destroying the planet and imperialistic, the same ideas that are replete in the Common Core English official list of text examples. Bush, in another attempt to deflect criticism, constantly states in interviews that Common Core has nothing to do with social studies, that it is only English, reading and math. (See this interview with Megyn Kelly at 4:10.) Yet, this is at best a mistake or at worse a falsehood, because Common Core is associated to social studies via the social studies literacy standards under Common Core English.  Those Common Core social studies ELA literacy standards are being used to alter and align state social studies standards as in Minnesota (see p. 13 of document at this link) as well as the AP standards to the radicalized anti-American view common in the official list of text exemplars for Common Core's ELA standards:

Another way that the Committee [sic] ensured that the proposed social studies standards provide college and career readiness, was to align the social studies standards with the 2010 Minnesota Academic Standards in English Language Arts. The language arts standards contain content related to literacy in history and social studies. They include all of the Common Core language arts standardsrigorous standards that have been widely documented as aligned with college and career-readiness expectations. (Emphasis added p. 13)
It is Bush's undying support for Common Core and the punitive, unhelpful tests coupled with his deceptive efforts to dance around that issue that are likely starting to cause grave problems for him in both national and state polls.  The Real Clear Politics national average has him only 0.2% ahead of Scott Walker; tied for 5th place in Iowa; number one by a mere 3.8% in New Hampshire; and by an even smaller margin of 0.4% in South Carolina.  In his home state of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio has closed the gap from 15 points to 6 since March on a St. Leo poll released on June 10th.  Even the pundits on Bret Baer's Special Report Candidate Casino - Mara Liasson, Charles Krauthammer, and Steve Hayes - all lowered their bets on Bush on the June 5th show and the pundits from the June 12th show did the same. 

The coronation he seemed to be expecting last December is not happening. There are many parents that hope these trends continue for the good of the country and our children's education.


FSCCC Congratulates Senator Vitter & Joins Wave of National Support For Student Privacy Protection Act - S 1341 May, 2015

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition is pleased to join a broad coalition of state and national groups in supporting The Student Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) today. The text of the bill is available HERE.

Here is Senator Vitter's Statement from his press release:
"Parents are right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids. This is real, sensitive information and it doesn't belong to some bureaucrat in Washington D.C.," Vitter said. "We need to make sure that parents and students have complete control over their own information."

Here is Dr. Karen Effrem's statement from that same release:
"While this bill is very strong in a number of areas critical to student, teacher, and family data privacy, we are especially pleased with the language that prohibits psychological and attitudinal profiling of students in surveys or academic assessments, " said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  "Senator Vitter deserves great thanks for his tireless efforts to roll back the intrusive data gathering, psychological profiling and career tracking of our children by the federal government and corporations." (See Dr. Effrem's research paper "Psychosocial Manipulation in the Common Core Standards and Aligned Tests and Curriculum"  for more details on this issue.)

What follows is a national unity statement with the  initial strong and very likely to increase list of state and national organizations supporting the legislation:
We; the undersigned groups that have grave concerns about the loss of student and family data privacy, psychological profiling, and career tracking related to the Common Core standards, aligned state tests and longitudinal data systems; are grateful to Senator David Vitter for introducing and do strongly support The Student Privacy Protection Act.

This legislation provides important protections in the following areas:
  • Rolling back the disastrous extra-congressional regulatory changes that vastly expanded access of third parties to our children's personally identifiable data, now limiting that access and requiring parental consent in all cases
  • Holding educational agencies, schools, and third parties liable for violations of the law through monetary fines, damages, and court costs
  • Prohibiting psychological or attitudinal profiling of students or gathering of sensitive family information via any assessments, including academic assessments or survey.
  • Extending data protections for homeschooled students required to submit educational data to public school districtsProhibiting educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Banning Federal education funds to states or districts that film, record, or monitor students or teachers in the classroom or remotely without parent or adult student and teacher consent.
We strongly urge the senators of our respective states to co-sponsor this critically important piece of legislation and our congressional representatives to author and co-sponsor this bill in the US House.

American Principles in Action
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Eagle Forum
Education Liberty Watch
Home School Legal Defense Association
Women on the Wall
Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
Stop Early Childhood Common Core

Arkansans for Education Freedom
Arkansas Against Common Core
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
Florida Parents RISE
The Tea Party Network
Georgians to Stop Common Core
Idahoans for Local Education
Hoosiers Against Common Core
Iowa RestorEd
Iowa for Student Achievement
Kansans Against Common Core
Louisiana Against Common Core
Common Core Forum
Stop Common Core Massachusetts
Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
Minnesotans Against Common Core
Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
Ohioans Against Common Core
Restore Oklahoma Public Education
Pennsylvanians Against Common Core
Pennsylvanians Restoring Education
South Dakota
South Dakotans Against Common Core
Tennessee Against Common Core
Truth in Texas Education
Truth in Catholic Education
West Virginia
WV Against Common Core
Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

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.


Congressman Clawson Restates Opposition to NCLB Rewrite with Federal Standards & Testing Mandates May, 2015

Congressman Curt Clawson (R-FL-19) visited the Daybreak Show hosted by Drew Steele on 92.5 Fox News out of Fort Meyers on May 8th.  He discussed multiple issues from the 70th anniversary of VE Day to stock transactions to foreign affairs to education. Dr. Effrem was able to ask him his views on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (See our analysis HERE).

He reiterated his strong opposition to both the House and Senate education bills.  Listen to his response starting at 17:10.  He said that :

  • He and his House colleagues are "not in the negotiating mood" regarding the big government NCLB rewrite
  • The US Department of Education is way too large and needs to be downsized
  • Our kids "should not be brainwashed."
  • He fully intends to keep his campaign promises about education and Common Core
We thank Congressman Clawson and his colleagues for their strong stand against the ever expanding reach of the federal government in education!

UPDATE: Senate Adjourns w/o Hearing Any Education Bills or Helpful Amendments April, 2015

The Senate adjourned yesterday afternoon without taking up the bills for which Senator Hays filed the amendments. We found out that Senator Bullard also filed amendments to these same bills. Although the Senate will wait a little longer before adjourning sine die to see if the House comes back in response to Senate President Gardiner's  letter, it is unlikely. So it is also unlikely they will be taking up any more bills. Please thank Senator Hays as well as Senator Bullard and Rep. Mayfield for their excellent work this session! Thank you for your support!

Senator Alan Hays

Rep. Debbie Mayfield

Senator Dwight Bullard

Hays to Offer Amendments to Cancel AIR Contract & Let Districts Choose Pre-Common Core Standards! April, 2015

Please contact your senators! Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) plans to offer two amendments to two different bills that will if nothing else make strong statements about the deplorable situation of Florida students and teachers being held to an invalid, technologically error prone test and to allow districts go back to the 2010 pre-Common Core standards that are equivalent or have been rated higher than Common Core.

The standards amendment is available HERE and says:
 1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Between lines 3499 and 3500
    4  insert:
    5         Section 44. Present subsections (10) and (11) of section
    6  1008.22, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (11)
    7  and (12), respectively, and a new subsection (10) is added to
    8  that section, to read:
    9         1008.22 Student assessment program for public schools.--
   10         (10) ALTERNATIVE STANDARDS.--Notwithstanding any other
   11  provision of law, a district school board may elect to use the
   12  Florida Sunshine State Standards that were effective in 2010 as
   13  the standards for the schools in its district.
   14         (a)1. The school district shall choose a nationally norm
   15  referenced assessment in use before 2010 from the list required
   16  under s. 1002.395(9)(i) which is designed to measure student
   17  progress for use with the 2010 Florida Sunshine State Standards
   18  to determine school and district grades. This assessment may be
   19  administered in hard copy if the district school board so
   20  chooses.
   21         2. A school district that elects to use the 2010 standards
   22  under this subsection shall use the nationally norm-referenced
   23  assessment tool identified in subparagraph 1. to evaluate
   24  teacher effectiveness. Student progress measurement tools may
   25  not make up more than 15 percent of the teacher effectiveness
   26  score.
   27         (b) A school district may not be penalized in any way for
   28  electing to use the 2010 Florida Sunshine State Standards or a
   29  nationally norm-referenced assessment under this subsection.

The testing amendment is available HERE and says:
 1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Between lines 4842 and 4843
    4  insert:
    5         Section 64. The contract with the American Institutes for
    6  Research for the statewide, standardized assessments in English
    7  Language Arts and mathematics is terminated. A state agency may
    8  not expend any additional funds to the American Institutes for
    9  Research. Districts shall replace the statewide, standardized
   10  assessments with nationally norm-referenced assessments in
   11  English Language Arts and mathematics which were in use before
   12  2010 from the list maintained by the Commissioner of Education
   13  pursuant to s. 1002.395, Florida Statutes.

These amendments are being offered to SB 948 and SB 1552. Coverage from the Orlando Sentinel is available HERE.  Neither the amendments or the underlying bills will go anywhere because the House has adjourned sine die (for the session).

The discussion will continue.  Please contact your senators to support these amendments to let them know that these issues are not going away and to create momentum.

#FedEd Tyranny Alert! Arne Duncan Threatening States Allowing Too Many Opt Outs April, 2015

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reminded everyone that there is nothing "voluntary" and "state-led" about the Common Core state tests as he threatened federal intervention if states had too many students that opted out of the federally mandated assessments.  It is also crystal clear evidence that both HR 5, the Student Success Act, and the Senate Every Child Achieves Act to rewrite No Child Left Behind must be changed to remove the federal testing mandate or voted down. According to Chalkbeat New York and the Daily Caller

"We think most states will do that [test 95% of their students]," Duncan told an Education Writers Association conference in Chicago, according to Chalkbeat New York. "If states don't do that, then we [the federal government] have an obligation to step in."
Duncan did not detail what that intervention would look like, but:

A federal education department spokeswoman said last week that the agency could withhold funding from states if some of their districts have too few students take the exams, but that it has not yet done so because states have addressed the issue on their own.

The US Department of Education just today rejected a waiver request from Colorado to hold districts harmless if students choose to opt out:

Colorado districts with large numbers of students refusing to take state standardized tests could face federal sanctions, after the U.S. Education Department Friday rejected a request from Colorado education officials to hold school districts harmless for high rates of opt-outs.
Federal officials said in a letter to Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond that not holding districts accountable for students who have opted out of tests will hinder efforts to improve schools and reduce inequities.
Districts are required by law to test all students in grades three to eight each year and all students in high school at least once. Federal officials have said districts could face sanctions, including the potential loss of federal funds, if fewer than 95 percent of students participate.

This rejection of the Colorado waiver seems to be tied to the early retirement annoiuncement of Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond.

This kind of Constitution shredding speech is not new for the secretary. As we reported, he said in November of last year  in new regulations regarding alternative testing for special education students that the plan was to "phase out the authority of the states to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments."

He may threaten, but he will have a hard time as opt out numbers grow across the country:
Colorado has large opt out numbers - In Boulder, for instance, district officials estimate that 47 percent of high schoolers, 14 percent of middle schoolers, 9 percent of students in K-8 schools, and 6 percent of elementary schoolers did not participate in the first round of spring tests.

New York State has 175,000 students opting out, which is higher than the 5% threshold set in federal law.

And in one Washington district, not a single junior student showed up to take the SBAC Common Core test at a Seattle area high school.

Currently, both the US House and Senate have rewrites of No Child Left Behind that continue this unconstitutional testing mandate. However, the rebellion both against the tests and against these onerous laws is reaching fever pitch and affecting supportive political candidates like Jeb Bush while helping the fortunes of oppnents like Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio and Governors Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal.  Congress would be foolish to ignore this wave of afury at these ridiculous tests based on terrible standards.This anger is one reason why the House bill HR 5 has been pulled from consideration on the House floor.  Let us hope for the sake of our children that these justifiably angry parents and teachers prevail in protecting sutdents and the art of teaching instead of being forced to learn and teach to such invalid tests..

Palm Beach County School Board Vice-Chairman Blasts Pam Stewart on Failure of FSA/AIR Tests April, 2015

Frank Barbieri, Vice-Chairman of the Palm Beach County School Board, minced no words about the failure of Commissioner Pam Stewart to properly implement the new testing system, saying that Florida students were used as "lab animals" and that she should be held as accountable as the students and teachers are being held.  We will let this excellent speech, available at this link, that captures the sentiments of parents, teachers and staff across Florida speak for itself! Florida students, teachers, and schoools, should be held harmless this year, the AIR test contract should be voided, and districts should be able to choose their own tests and standards as suggested by legislation from Rep. Debbie Mayfield and Senator Dwight Bullard along with that of Rep. John Tobia and Senator Greg Evers.


Amidst More AIR Test Problems - Senator Hays Calls for Contract Cancellation & Seminole County Considers Opt-Out April, 2015

In a carbon copy of the March disaster with the writing test, administration of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) reading and math was another debacle on April 20th with thousands of students across the state locked out of actually taking the tests online for hours causing the larger districts like Miami Dade and Orange County to suspend testing for the day. This caused major disruptions and stress for students, teachers and staff trying to deal with an already full testing schedule.

The vendor, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), has taken responsibility for the problem which was caused by unauthorized technical changes they made over the weekend before testing was to begin. 

Allison Neilsen of Sunshine State News also brought up the major and lingering concern about these disruptions causing the tests to not be valid ( See our extensive discussion of the inherent lack of validity of the FSA/AIR test regardless of implementation problems HERE):

According to the FLDOE Spring 2015 FSA Computer-Based Test Administration Manual, if students are disrupted during testing due to a circumstance out of their control, test invalidation may be considered if a student "feels his or her performance was significantly affected by the disruption."
Just how many students may decide to invalidate their test results has yet to be determined, but problems with the FSA roll-out which locked students out of the test and prohibited them from finishing caused lots of problems for students statewide.
Parents have expressed concerns over the test, saying it threw their children for a loop when they were unexpectedly unable to take the test.
"The computer problems have created a lot of chaos in their school day and [are] a perfect reason for invalidation," said Beth Overholt, who has three school-aged children. Overholt said her children opted out of standardized testing but said her daughters were held in their classrooms for hours waiting for their fellow students to complete their tests.
"She missed three classes two days in a row," Overholt said. "I want her in front of a teacher learning something."
Students taking the test tweeted their anxieties over the test, many of whom didn't seem to be looking forward to completing it.

Senator Alan Hays again supported the call of FSCCC and many others to cancel the AIR testing contract during the Appropriations Committee meeting today which was repoted by AP's Gary Fineout:
The Seminole County School Board went a step farther , planning to draft a letter to the FLDOE asking to suspend testing for the rest of the year and use a nationally normed referenced test instead.  As reported by Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel:

The leaders of one of the state's top-performing school districts agreed Tuesday to ask if they can skip the new FSA next year and give their students national tests, such as the SAT, instead. Computer problems marred the debut of the FSA, which has more online tests than its predecessor. There were more problems Monday, which delayed testing for thousands of students and further frustrated Seminole officials.

"What are the consequences if Seminole County says, you know what state of Florida, until you get your act together, we're going to sit this one out?" asked board member Amy Lockhart. "We're getting off your crazy train...What happens?"

The board's attorney, Serita Beamon, said just skipping FSA wasn't a legal option since state law makes testing mandatory.

But Superintendent Walt Griffin suggested finding out if the district can opt out of FSA and give other tests, such as the Stanford-10 for elementary students and the PSAT and SAT for middle and high school students. Those exams, Griffin said, have been around for years, are considered reliable and are paper-and-pencil exams that take less time to administer than online exams.
AIR has had problems in many states both with their own tests and with the computer adaptive platform they did for SBAC.  Montana has made using the test results optional this year. 

These failures were predicted by many organizations, parents teachers, and superintendents.  This concept of a reliable nationally normed test offered on paper has been the subject of legislation or amendments offered by Reps. Debbie Mayfield, John Tobia, and Evan Jenne; and Senators Dwight Bullard, Alan Hays, Greg Evers, and Jeff Clemens.  There is also the adiditional major concern about the failure of the DOE to follow the load testing law and there were amendments to require independent verification of load testing and or paper testing at least until that load testing was verfied. Sadly for Florida's students, these bills and amendments were rejected by legislative leadership. Let us hope there are new amendments and or that Governor Scott does the right thing and at a minimum hold students harmless from the high stakes consequences of these invalid tests this year.

Statement on the Signing of HB 7069 Testing Bill April, 2015

Today Governor Scott signed HB 7069, the testing and accountability bill, despite the concerns of thousands of parents, teachers and students about the still lingering and harsh effects of Florida's problem plagued accountability system.

"We appreciate the efforts of the legislature for the tests that were reduced, said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  "We still, however, remain very concerned about a post-test validity process, subject to political appointments, that still leaves our students and teachers subject to high stakes decisions based on invalid tests. We believe that this law still does not protect students and staff from consequences of these tests that are useless for informing instruction and invasively profile our children, while leaving the taxpayers in jeopardy from inevitable lawsuits."

"Sadly, this bill also does not do anything to deal with the inferior, inappropriate, and manipulative standards upon which these tests are based," said Randy Osborne, director of education for Florida Eagle Forum.

"It is clear that the legislative process only nibbled around the edges of an enormous problem, and that citizens will have to find other means of protecting children, asserting parental rights, and returning to education instead of test preparation,"  said Catherine Baer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Network.

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition is an organization of more than fifty statewide and local organizations representing thousands of Floridians.   A detailed analysis of the numerous significant concerns with HB 7069 is available on our website.

House Passes Senate Version of Testing Bill - Urge Governor Scott to Veto HB 7069! April, 2015

In a surprise move, on April 9th, instead of negotiating with the Senate, the House decided to accept the Senate version of HB 7069, the education testing bill.  This was very unexpected.  Even K-12 subcommittee chairwoman Janet Adkins said on her Facebook page that the House was still considering its options only hours before the House vote.

TESTING UPDATE: This past week the senate did a strikeall amendment to the HB 7069 and inserted SB 616 with some...

Posted by Janet Adkins on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Our summary of that bill and its Senate debate is HERE.
A more detailed report of the final House debate follows. The bottom line, however, is that this bill does nothing to deal with the inferior, inappropriate, and manipulative Common Core/Florida standards and even for a testing bill, still holds Florida students, teachers and schools "accountable" to invalid tests and will result in massive lawsuits for which we, the Florida taxpayers will pay dearly. The only thing left is to ask Governor Scott for a veto.  The ethical, legal, and financial risks of this bill are too great.  Please urge Governor Scott to veto HB 7069, to truly hold students harmless from retention until the test is truly independently validated, and to deal with testing as was recommended in the HB 877 (Mayfield)/ SB 1450 (Bullard) or HB 1121 (Tobia)/SB 1496 (Evers). You may reach the governor by email or at 850-488-7146.


Final House Debate
The bill does a few good things. It does reduce some testing.  It gets rid of the eleventh grade English test, which was largely superfluous and not even required by No Child Left Behind; makes the PERT college entrance test optional, and eliminates the local end of course exams (EOCs) in every course and every grade, which should have never have been put into statute in the first place, particularly for younger children. Chairman Legg should be commended for getting rid of the requirement in previous versions for only the highly subjective, computer-adaptive FAIR reading test for grades K-3 and the subjective, psychologically invasive Pearson Work Sampling System for kindergarten instead of local and teacher derived assessments. The Senate bill also walks back some of the damaging third grade retention language from the House bill, but certainly not all of it.
However, HB 7069 does nothing to deal with the two most critical education issues facing our state.  It does nothing to walk back the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically manipulative Common Core/Florida Standards.  Even Senator Hays much appreciated amendment dealing with standards was rejected by Senator Legg and the leadership.  The amendment required, instead of currently leaving optional the critically important teaching of America's Founding principles and other vitally important historical information about American exceptionalism, the Holocaust, etc. listed in statute 1003.42, the teaching of which is being lost through the radical religious and historical revisionism of the Common Core's English literacy standards for social studies.  These social studies literacy standards are what is leading to the radical AP US history guidelines being fought all over the nation.
 The key issue related to testing is holding students, teachers, and schools accountable to life changing decisions based on invalid tests.  Our summaries explain Senator Hays excellent original amendment after Senator Simmons' very good and important questions, the dilution of that amendment by leadership during the Appropriations Committee hearing, efforts to re-strengthen the amendment on the Senate floor and the thwarting of those efforts in final debate.

The final House debate was mostly a formality. The final vote was 105 6.  As in the Senate, all of the "no" votes were by Democrats Pafford, Pritchett, Richardson, Rodriguez, Stafford, and Watson. Here are some important highlights.

Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene O'Toole admitted during final House debate that the validity language in the Senate bill did not protect third grade students from retention by an invalid test when she said starting at 6:24:

It requires third grade students who receive scores in the bottom quintile of 2014-15 ELA assessments to be identified as at risk of retention.  Until the validity of the assessments is confirmed, these students will receive intensive instruction and support. Members! Members! To be clear, this does not restore social promotion.  Scores will be linked and the third grade retention policy was not changed. (Emphasis added).
During debate several statements were made in an effort to "be clear and set the record straight." While the desire appears to be to take heat off of the commissioner and the Department for all of the problems with validity and the rollout, these cannot go without a response
First, in response to the validity concern, it was said, "All assessments including the FSA go through multiple independent third party analyses."
If that was the case, then where are those analyses? Dr. Effrem's testimony starting at (5:02:11) for the Senate Appropriations Committee documented the lack of evidence of validity before the test administration gathered by researchers, teachers, experts, and education officials in two states that caused the validity amendment language in the first place:
In addition, the Department of Education has admitted that the validity of the FCAT, the scores ofwhich they are temporarily tying highschool grauation decisions are not all that valid either:

Less strong is the empirical evidence for extrapolation and implication. This is due in part to the absence of criterion studies. Because an ideal criterion for the FCAT 2.0 or EOC assessments probably cannot be found, empirical evidence for the extrapolation argument may need to come from several studies showing convergent validity evidence. Further studies are also needed to verify some implication arguments. This is especially true for the inference that the state's accountability program is making a positive impact on student proficiency and school accountability without causing unintended negative consequences. (Emphasis added)

Secondly, in response to the very valid concern that the FSA was field tested in Utah with a very different demographic group using the Utah test, it was said, "Florida educators and Department staff were closely involved in all test development activities throughout the entire process from the development to administration to ensure that questions meet Florida's quality standards, reflect community standards, and are free from any type of bias."
  • That statement has nothing to change the frequently documented and repeated statements that the test was in fact field tested in Utah, including testimony (starting at 56:00) by the commissioner
Senator Simmons: Were they Florida students?
Commissioner Stewart:  That I can answer, no they were not.
Senator Simmons:  They were not Florida students?
Commissioner Stewart:  That's correct.
Senator Simmons: Are these the Utah students
Commissioner Stewart:  Yes Utah students did to experience these some of these questions and it was field-tested there.
  • Here is information from the Utah legislative website showing that Florida rented test questions from Utah at a cost of an additional $16.2 million, which is on top of the $220 million main contract:
The State of Florida has requested to use Utah's SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) test questions for the next three years.  Florida is in the process of developing an online computer-adaptive assessment system similar to SAGE and will use Utah's questions until their system is fully developed.  Utah and Florida are using the same contractor, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), to assist in the development of both systems...Through the agreement, Utah will provide AIR with the rights to use the Utah owned questions in Florida.  Utah will receive $1.50 per student for each question used in Florida.  Based on current estimates, Utah may receive approximately $5.4 million a year, or $16.2 million over the three-year contract.
Finally, this legislator discussed "the claim that students were told that they were not allowed to discuss the test with their parents." The response was, "The test administration script does not say anything about parents.  Students are only prohibited from revealing specific details about test items. And Members, this helps maintain the validity of the test, something I think we are all concerned about."
Here is the relevant part of the letter that parents of third grade students received regarding the FSA testing procedures:

There are two major problems with this approach.  First, while the legislator is technically correct that parents are not mentioned, the document clearly says, "After the test, you may not reveal details about the passages or items to anyone." (Emphasis added). The clear meaning of "anyone" would include parents.  We have reports of many teachers saying to students that this does include parents.  This is creating great stress and anxiety in especially younger children who are conflicted between honoring the two major authority figures in their lives.
Secondly, the "testing agreement" is for all intents and purposes a contract that every student taking the test must sign.  This cannot work because minors cannot enter into binding contracts.  This is another extremely serious legal issue raised by the FSA and its implementation.
Although some superintendents and education leaders have expressed support of some provisions of the bill, it is no wonder that all of the comments on Speaker Crisafulli's Facebook page from parents are and have remained negative:

Today, the Florida House sent priority Work Plan 2015 school testing reform legislation to Governor Scott for his...

Posted by Steve Crisafulli on Thursday, April 9, 2015

The ethical, legal, and financial risks of this bill are too great.  Please urge Governor Scott to veto HB 7069, to truly hold students harmless from retention until the test is truly independently validated, and to deal with testing as was recommended in HB 877 (Mayfield)/ SB 1450 (Bullard) or HB 1121 (Tobia)/SB 1496 (Evers). You may reach the governor by email or at 850-488-7146.

Senate Passes Testing Bill Without Any Helpful Amendments April, 2015

Despite excellent efforts on amendments by Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) and Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Miami), and some fantastic speeches by Hays, Bullard, and Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Lee (R-Hillsborough), the Senate passed the testing bill (SB 616) by a vote of 32-4 and changed its number to HB 7069, the same number as the House bill, on April 2nd.  The four "no" votes were all Democrats - Bullard, Jeff Clemens (Lake Worth), Gwen Margolis (Miami), and Geraldine Thompson (Orlando).

The fate of the bill was pretty much sealed when last minute shenanigans neutralized efforts to strengthen the language on validity that we discussed in our last alert.  Just to recap, Senator Hays' fabulous amendment in the Appropriations Committee to require independent verification of test validity before students, teachers, and districts were held accountable to high stakes decisions based on those tests was significantly watered down at the behest of leadership.  An amendment to strengthen that language was filed by Senator Montford and co-sponsored by Senator Hays for the floor debate, but those were thwarted by Senators Legg, Gaetz, and Montford who again filed a much weaker version for the final floor passage.  That final version still left third grade students unprotected from retention, tied high school graduation decisions to last year's test, which has validity problems of its own, made the panel that picked the organization to validate the test open to political whim and didn't even require panel members to be educators or testing experts.

Senator Bullard continued to offer the same important amendments on paper and pencil testing and norm referenced tests that are contained in the wonderful bills he sponsored along with Rep. Debbie Mayfield, but were sadly defeated on voice votes.  One very good Bullard amendment on validity was also defeated on a recoded vote mostly along party lines. We thank Senators Lee and Hays for bucking the leadership to cross party lines to support that amendment.

Senator Hays offered one other wonderful and very important amendment on standards that we had not previously mentioned.  That amendment would require instead of leaving optional the crucial doctrines of our Founding documents, the Holocaust, and important other topics that are already listed in statue 1003.42 that the inferior, inappropriate, and manipulative Common Core is  diminishing, twisting and crowding out of the curriculum. Senator Legg because of his great love for the Common Core/Florida standards and Jeb Bush's support for them would not allow the amendment and it failed.

Several senators, particularly Education Committee Chariman John Legg (R-Lutz) and former Senate President Don Gaetz (R -  Niceville), tried to defend Jeb Bush and separate him from the consequences of the horrific system that he started.  They worshipfully intoned the name of his PAC or quoted his various talking points.  Very few in the parent and activist communities were amused. 

Here, as some consolation, are the fabulous speeches by Senator Hays, who not only criticized the testing but called out Common Core, quoting some of the absurd math problems foisted on our students, while Senator Lee eloquently expressed his frustration with the testing system that has "lost common sense" and blamed the testing companies and foundations (like Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future) (the full session video is available HERE with Lee's speech from April 1st.):

The differences between the House and Senate versions can be reconciled by the House accepting the Senate bill or working out the differences in conference committee.  Regardless of the path chosen, there is very little to nothing left in the bill that will protect students from harm of an invalid test or taxpayers from the costs of the inevitable lawsuits.


In a stunning reversal of an excellent amendment, Senator Montford refused to refile his amendment explicitly holding students harmless for the accountability of the hopelessly invalid Florida Standards Assessment to conform with Senator Legg's very  late filed delete-all. A new amendment, coded 416186, filed by Senators Montford, Gaetz, and Legg requires psychometric validity to hold harmless ONLY personnel evaluations and the school grading system. Students are still in grave jeopardy, especially third grade students who are still under the Simmons amendment language, which does not mention the issue of retention at all, mentioning only performance, so not really protecting them from retention. The high school graduation is now tied to the 2013-14 data which, as admitted by the Department of Education,  is not really all that valid either. And the choice on the entity is now rigged to a decision by legislative leaders and the governor who have an interest in choosing an organization that will validate the test no matter what.  Unfortunately, as a co-sponsor, Senator Hays did not have a choice in this matter.  That amendment passed. 
"This is a sad betrayal of our children being done at the behest of the Jeb Bush model of "accountability" at all costs and beyond all reason" said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC), an organizations of over fifty statewide and local groups. "The children and taxpayers of Florida will pay dearly for this as unaccountable foundations, corporations, and political candidates are enriched."
"I have been contacted by several attorneys that are ready to sue the state and districts over this issue, and tragically, this new amendment will only help that effort at a tremendous, but unnecessary cost," said Randy Osborne, director of education for great FSCCC partner Florida Eagle Forum.
"The students and taxpayers of Florida deserve far better than this," said Catherine Baer, chairwoman of wonderful FSCCC partner The Tea Party Network. "This move will only further accelerate grassroots furor at the national and corporate takeover of our schools through the Common Core (AKA Florida) Standards, these horrific tests, and the accompanying data collection system, and will likely hurt candidates at any level that support these concepts."
"Our children should be the first concern of the Florida Legislature, but as we have seen this has become an issue that has left children in a state of confusion and angst," said Danielle Alexandre from another key partner, the Liberty First Network. "We expect more out of our elected officials. To ignore the plights of our youngest students is unconscionable and should not be tolerated."
Also, sadly, we regretfully and apologetically report that on further examination, the problematic third grade retention language from the House IS in the Legg delete-all on lines 786-788.  This will puts ALL third grade students in jeopardy of retention, not just the ones who have a documented reading deficiency and will make opting out much more difficult.  
The three amendments that could have helped this bill be worthy of support, and for which we are grateful and strongly supported, were all defeated. 

1)      Senator Hays' amendment filed this morning, coded 338688, that requires instead of currently leaving optional the teaching of critical topics found in statute 1003.42 including our heritage of freedom in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution; the events of the Holocaust and 911; and the contributions of women, African Americans and Hispanics.
2)      Senator Bullard's amendment now, coded 288222, allowing the district choice of a nationally norm-referenced, already validated test that we discussed yesterday.
3)      Senator Bullard's amendment, now coded 654570, requiring a paper and pencil option at least until the online system is load tested and independently verified as did not happen before the FSA writing test, also discussed yesterday.
There was no time to have you contact senators about these new amendments and changes. We waited to see the outcome before sending this update. We are extremely grateful to Senators Hays and Bullard for their efforts. However, there is now really nothing in this bill worth supporting.  PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TO VOTE NO ON SB 616 AND ANY ADOPTION OF HB 7069!  The legislative sausage making process is ugly and was particularly so today. Thanks to the control by the established corporate interests and political pressure, that effort despite your great work has played out to completion not in our favor. Now we will have to continue to work in the opt-out, constitutional, legal, and political realms. Thank you for your support and for all you do!


Although there will be little time to reach your Senators, please do so by email or leave a message by phone before session starts at 10 AM tomorrow.  Most of these amendments, including a 60 page delete-all substitute amendment of SB 616 were not filed until 5 PM and had to be analyzed.

We are urgently recommending that you contact your Florida Senators to support the following amendments tomorrow as the education testing bill, SB 616 goes to the floor to begin consideration TOMORROW, April 1st around 10 AM.  We thank Senators Montford, Hays and Bullard for offering these amendments.  The barcodes listed will have to change because they were introduced before Chairman Legg introduced his delete all amendment, which will be discussed below as well, but you can just mention the ideas of what they are and that should suffice.  They are listed in order of priority (there were nine new amendments listed, and although some of the others may have merit, we are focusing on the most :

Montford/Hays Validity Amendment Barcode 137530
This new bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Montford and Hays accomplishes the same things on validity as the original Hays amendment discussed in our report of the Hays and Simmons amendments with documentation available HERE. It will hold students, teachers, and schools harmless for promotion, graduation, teacher evaluations and school grades until the FSA is independently verified to be psychometrically valid by an independent national organization. It does not, however, contain the load testing language of Senator Hays original amendment. 

Talking Points:

  1. Despite testimony by Commissioner Stewart in committee, there is no evidence of psychometric validation in Florida or Utah of the FSA. (Documents available on request).
  2. The Department admitted in one of their documents (p.137) that there was insufficient research to use the established FCAT test for "student proficiency" and "school accountability" without "unintended negative consequences." (See our FSCCC report).
  3. This amendment is the minimum that legislators should do ethically to protect Florida students, teachers and schools from the harm of high stakes consequences from an invalid test and the minimum you should do to protect the taxpayers from having to pay for the law suits that are already being prepared on this issue.
Bullard Amendment Allowing District Choice of Nationally Norm Referenced Test - Barcode 863180
This amendment is language we have been supporting all session, a form of which is found in both HB 877 (Mayfield)/ SB 1450 (Bullard) and HB 1121 (Tobia)/SB 1496 (Evers)

Talking Points:
  1. This amendment promotes local control and gives public schools the same freedom of choice that private, home and charter schools have, which is even in line with former Governor Bush's (see summit video at 28:10) idea to "figure out ways to liberate the traditional public schools" regarding testing.
  2. With all of the validation issues with the FSA, it would be nice to use an already validated, acceptable and field tested test.
  3. These tests are given in paper and pencil format, negating the huge cost of online assessments and losing far less instructional time during testing because computer labs are tied up as the online tests have to be given in shifts.
Bullard Amendment Requiring Paper and Pencil Testing until Assessment is Technologically Load Tested Barcode 722230
Although we think paper and pencil testing should be an option all of the time as in the Mayfield/Bullard bill and Tobia/Evers bill, for a whole host of reasons to be discussed in the talking points, we very much appreciate Senator Bullard offering this amendment.
Talking Points:
  1. After the disastrous rollout of the FSA writing test, the "cyber-attack," and the evidence that the DOE seems to have ignored the statutory requirement for the load testing, there is really little doubt that the tests should be given on paper AT LEAST until the load testing is accomplished and preferably all of the time.
  2. We think the tests should be given on paper all of the time for many reasons, including prevention of data mining, parents' rights, local control, and assessing children on knowledge instead of keyboarding skills.
Legg Delete-All Amendment Barcode 877970

Sadly, neither the House nor the Senate bill deals with the major concerns of the standards, data collection and psychological manipulation of the Common Core system, the Senate is a significant improvement over the House bill, not taking the concerning language on third grade retention and removing the imposition of the very subjective, non-valid and or computer adaptive assessments for the kindergarten and early grade reading assessments and removal of local assessments for which we thank Senator Legg.  If the Montford/Hays amendment on validity is added, we would definitely support it in conference committee.

FL DOE Admits Not enough Research to Support Even FCAT for High Stakes - Must Hold Harmless on FSA March, 2015

We have reported on the major issues with the validity of the FSA and the great work of Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) and Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) to prevent our students, teachers, and schools from being held "accountable" to an invalid test.  One issue that needs further emphasis is the fact that the FCAT had major validity problems as well.

In their attempt to answer Senator Simmons' excellent questions about the alleged validation process of the FSA from the March 4th hearing of the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee (transcribed on page 1 HERE), the Department of Education sent a 175 page document.  This document, irrelevant to the discussion of the FSA and the senator's questions, discussed the validity of the previous test, the FCAT 2.0 and the End of Course Exams (EOCs). The report dated December 2014 contains the following very telling paragraph on page 137:

Less strong is the empirical evidence for extrapolation and implication. This is due in part to the absence of criterion studies. Because an ideal criterion for the FCAT 2.0 or EOC assessments probably cannot be found, empirical evidence for the extrapolation argument may need to come from several studies showing convergent validity evidence. Further studies are also needed to verify some implication arguments. This is especially true for the inference that the state's accountability program is making a positive impact on student proficiency and school accountability without causing unintended negative consequences. (Emphasis added)

This is a stunning admission!  In December of 2014, the Department of Education is admitting that the FCAT 2.0 and the EOC's which have been present for several years do not have enough research support to have the citizens and policy makers of Florida be confident in their use to determine "student proficiency" and "school accountability" without "unintended negative consequences."

If that is the case for tests that have been in use for a number of years, how can the state of Florida and the legislature continue with the idea of using the new FSA that was field tested on a completely different population of students and does not have ANY evidence of psychometric review or validation? The only way to prevent massive class action lawsuits is to pass another amendment closer to Senator Hayes original validity amendment and hold harmless ALL of the stakeholders from high stakes decisions third graders, high school students, teachers and schools until the tests are independently validated.  Otherwise, they are likely to face legal action under the Debra P. vs. Turlington case which requires curricular validity before major decisions can be made using tests. It is also the very minimum that legislators should do ethically to prevent grave harm to all of these people and institutions by basing life altering decisions on invalid tests..

Please tell your senators to support strengthening of the validity language of SB 616 as it goes to the floor on Wednesday, April 1st!


We are incredibly grateful to Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) for offering an excellent amendment to SB 616, the bill on testing sponsored by Pre-K 12 Education Committee Chairman John Legg. This bill will be heard TOMORROW, March 25, starting sometime after 9:00 AM on a long agenda of many other bills.  The amendment, coded 637822, requires both independent verification of validity of the tests and independent verification of the load testing that is currently in law but was basically ignored by the FL DOE along with many warnings by superintendents leading to the disastrous roll-out of the FSA writing test.  Here is the language:

1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete lines 525 - 529
    4  and insert:
    5         (c) The statewide, standardized assessments may not be used
    6  to determine grade 3 retention pursuant to s. 1008.25(3); high
    7  school graduation pursuant to s. 1003.4282; personnel
    8  evaluations pursuant to s. 1012.34; and school grades pursuant
    9  to s. 1008.34 until:
   10         1. A report showing their psychometric validity, the
   11  coefficient alpha reliability, the content description validity,
   12  the differential item functional analysis, the criterion
   13  prediction validity, standard error of measurement, and the
   14  construct identification validity is produced and verified by
   15  the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, the
   16  American Educational Research Association, American
   17  Psychological Association, or the National Council on
   18  Measurement in Education. Once an independent organization
   19  certifies the assessment as psychometrically sound, the test
   20  item specifications must be published on the department's
   21  website and be reported to the President of the Senate and the
   22  Speaker of the House of Representatives; and
   23         2. Until the technology infrastructure, connectivity, and
   24  capacity of all public schools and school districts has been
   25  load tested and independently verified by either the Joint
   26  Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation or one of the
   27  member professional associations as appropriate, adequate,
   28  efficient, sustainable, and ready for successful deployment and
   29  implementation of online assessments For purposes of determining
   30  grade 3 retention pursuant to s. 1008.25(5) and high school
   31  graduation pursuant to s. 1003.4282, student performance on the
   32  2014-2015 statewide, standardized assessments shall be linked to
   33  2013-2014 student performance expectations.
Senator Hays is offering this amendment in light of his own well-documented concerns about Common Core and hearing about Commissioner Stewart's and the FLDOE's failure to provide adequate, factual response to Senate Rules Committee Chairman and attorney David Simmons excellent and very important questions (starting at 56:00) about the validity of Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) that was field tested in Utah. Senator Simmons cited a legal decision requiring evidence of validity of the tests before high stakes decisions can be made.  Commissioner stated that the FSA was psychometrically evaluated to be valid and reliable in Utah.  Dr. Effrem and others will be presenting evidence that there is no such study and that requiring the very invalid, unreliable FSA to be used for high stakes decisions, besides profoundly and unnecessarily hurting children, teachers, administrator and districts will open the state to great legal jeopardy at the taxpayer's expense.

Senator Hays is also offering an amendment on reading, coded 282382.  Our last report on this bill mentioned this problematic language now imposing the highly subjective Pearson Work Sampling System for kindergarten and the developmentally inappropriate and computer adaptive Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading (FAIR) for kindergarten, first, second, and third grades.  What we did not make as clear is that the bill language eliminates local district and teacher reading assessments.  Senator Hays amendment restores the observations of the teachers who see the children every day and local control of the district assessments which was eliminated in what hopefully was a drafting error.

  1. Personally call or email every member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, whose contact information is at these links with the following points:
  1. While we would prefer Senator Bullard's (SB 1450) or Senator Evers' (SB 1496) bills on testing and standards, the Hays amendment 637822 is the very minimum you must do to protect our children, teachers, administrators and schools from grave harm and the taxpayers and budget of Florida from great loss due to lawsuits.  There is no evidence of validity or reliability of the FSA from Utah or anywhere else.  Many states including most recently California and Vermont have suspended the high stakes effects of their Common Core tests.  Utah has suspended the high stakes consequences and is looking to shed the AIR test being used to provide Florida's test questions. You will be putting Florida's education system in great ethical and legal jeopardy if you do not pass this amendment.
  2. While sure that the omission was an accident, Senator Hays amendment on reading, 282382, simply restores local and teacher involvement in the assessment of reading that is critical to our students and required under the Article IX, section 4b of the Florida Constitution.

House Committee Bill on Floor on 3/17 - Please Support Jenne and Jones Amendments March, 2015

The Florida House of Representatives will begin consideration of Rep. Marlene O'Toole's HB 7069, the seventy page committee bill today, March 17th at 3 PM and finish on the 18th.  Here is a brief overview so that you are informed and may call your legislators to support the two good amendments to this rushed and complicated bill that we described last week.

Rep. O'Toole and the committee should be thanked for the positive features of the bill that include:

  • Eliminating unnecessary and duplicative state and district assessments by repealing the statewide, standardized 11th grade ELA assessment and repealing the required administration of the PERT to high school students.
  • Prohibiting administration of final exams in addition to statewide, standardized EOC assessments.
  • Granting districts some measure of greater flexibility in evaluating teacher performance by reducing the student performance and instructional practice evaluation components to one third each and streamlining evaluation system monitoring provisions.
The bill does not, however, deal with some of the most foundational problems in the high stakes testing system:
  • First and foremost, it does not acknowledge the inherent right of parents to direct the education of their children by opting them out of tests that narrow curriculum and decrease teaching time.  The tests are mostly about, grading schools; evaluating teachers; and as stated by Miami Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo, more about "gathering data on kids than about the kids themselves."
  • Locks in data mining and causes students, teachers, and districts to suffer the consequences of technical issues beyond their control by not allowing a paper and pencil test at least as an alternative as allowed in Rep. Debbie Mayfield's HB 877.  
  • While attempting to streamline the issues surrounding third grade retention for reading deficiency, it actually appears to decrease flexibility for parents trying to prevent retention by limiting any "Good cause"alternatives until after the child has failed the state reading test.
  • Does not hold accountable either the American Institutes of Research (AIR) or the Florida Department of Education for rushing implementation, failing to heed warnings of impending problems and most importantly, not obeying the law requiring technological load testing and independent verification  by every district in the state before giving any assessments on line .
HB 7069 is also endorsed by the Foundation for Florida's Future, the organization used by Jeb Bush to promote the unconstitutional, invasive, and ineffective "fed ed" standards and testing policies like Common Core and No Child Left Behind.

This legislation is being quickly run through the House without heed to the problems being suffered by our children due to the botched writing assessment.  The problems were blamed on a cyber- attack and then, the department tried to make us believe that the student data was secure and it is perfectly fine to use the results.

Two common sense amendments are being offered to deal with some of these issues:
  1. An amendment by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Broward) to require the load testing and verification that should by law have happened before the writing test was given online but did not, allowing the use of paper and pencil testing until that testing is completed.
  2. Rep. Mia Jones (D-Miami) has filed an amendment to have a transition time before test results are used for high stakes decisions, like school grades, teacher evaluations, and student promotion.
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and our partner organization, The Tea Party Network support these amendments as we wait and hope for improvements to the underlying bill when it is reconciled to the Senate language.  Please contact your House member to support these amendments and urge your legislators to support the Mayfield/Bullard bills on testing options (HB 877/SB 1450) and on education sovereignty and Common Core (HB 743/ SB 1406) as well as the Tobia/Evers bill on Common Core and testing (HB 1121/SB 1496). Thank you!

Where are We Living? Blaming Cyber-Attacks & Holding Children Who Refuse March, 2015

The bizarre saga of the horrific FSA rollout continues as the Department of Education (DOE) began implementing the Common Core aligned Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) by the problematic and scandal plagued American Institutes for Research (AIR).
As we reported last week, the rollout of these tests has been nothing short of a disaster and that the Department ignored extensive warning and pleas about the technological problems with administering just the writing test, much less any of the other tests administered to many more students that are coming up.  The Department also seems quite likely to have ignored the law requiring statewide load testing with independent verification before the tests were to be given online. The emphasis is far more on data collection than on the well being or privacy of children. Our view was confirmed by the Miami Herald and other outlets, as well as Miami Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo, who testified extensively last week at the legislature and accurately and succinctly tweeted:


On the afternoon of March 9, the DOE put out a press release blaming the technological problems on a cyber- attack on AIR's servers. Although saying that the evidence needs to be examined, given the extensive lack of preparation and ignoring warnings and the law, Dr. Effrem had concerns about this defense, part of which were quoted in the Sunshine State News:

"They failed to heed the warnings," said Florida Stop Common Core Coalition President Karen Effrem. "For them to blame the problems on a cyber-attack is just far too convenient. It doesn't pass the smell test to me."

Similar sentiments were stated by Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test, also in Sunshine State News:

"Either they failed to build a sufficiently secure testing system or they are fabricating an explanation for their technical fiasco."
The Department should have been aware of AIR's poor cyber-security history in that they have already failed to keep their own employees' data safe as we reported from article by Education Week:

"I'm concerned that my own personal information was not secured," said Hawkins, who now works as a senior study director with Westat, a research and statistical survey organization based in Rockville, Md.  "Given that AIR is constantly dealing with [clients] that require the highest security and encryption, that they didn't do that for their own employees, is to me a serious issue."

The other huge issue related to testing is the very disturbing reports of schools refusing to let students that opted out of testing be released to their parents.  One case in Orange County required the police to be called to make sure that the school knew that children are to be released to their parents unless the school is under lockdown. Other cases reported on Facebook required parents in Lake County and Palm Beach County having attorneys call the school before their children were released. Here is an excerpt from the Orange County case:

A parent of a fifth grader at Brookshire Elementary School in Winter Park was initially told she could not pick up her daughter, who was opting out of the state's new writing test, according to another parent who witnessed the incident this morning. That other parent said she called police...

...The Winter Park Police Department said the school resource officer for city elementary schools heard the 911 call dispatched and went to Brookshire.

The principal then had the girl removed from her class and brought to the office, so her mother could take her home, Bobinski said.
Myers said the school's principal, in earlier emails to parents, had said that releasing students during testing would be disruptive and not be allowed.

But the district has no policy that would allow school officials to detain a child under such circumstances, she said.
Bobinski agreed. "We do not hold children if parents come to pick them up," she wrote.
This kind of tyranny is completely unacceptable.  To quote the famous 1925 U.S. Supreme Court decision, "children are not mere creatures of the state."  Neither are they merely test scores and data points. Stand up and protect the hearts, minds, privacy and rights of your children!

FL DOE Ignored Warnings & Appears to have Broken the Law on FSA Load Test March, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Administration of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA)  by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to measure learning under the Common Core (deceptively rebranded as the Florida Standards) standards was an unmitigated disaster over the first two days of administration. Thirty nine districts reported problems after they were unable to log into the system and many students were unable to complete the writing test on line.  At least five school districts - Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Pasco and Broward - suspended testing for Tuesday.  Two Democrat senators, Jeff Clemmons and Dwight Bullard, the senate co-author (SB 1406) of HB 877 by Rep. Mayfield, wrote a letter of Governor Scott asking that high stakes testing be immediately  suspended.
It appears that Commissioner Stewart bullied and badgered superintendents into saying that they were technologically ready or "load tested" when there were not and the warnings issued by others before testing began about the coming debacle were unheeded.  Clearly, the very good law authored by Senator John Legg requiring the systemic and uniform testing of the computerized testing infrastructure, independent verification, and not proceeding with the testing until every district was ready was not followed.  Here is what should have happened (see emphasized language):

[Footnote to 1003.41] Section 6, ch. 2013-250, provides that "[f]ull implementation of online assessments for Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics adopted under s. 1003.41, Florida Statutes, for all kindergarten through grade 12 public school students shall occur only after the technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts have been load tested and independently verified as ready for successful deployment and implementation." (Emphasis added).

[Footnote to 1008.22] Section 7, "The technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts that administer statewide standardized assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22, Florida Statutes, including online assessments, shall be load tested and independently verified as appropriate, adequate, efficient, and sustainable." (Emphasis added).

This clearly did not happen as evidenced by these superintendent quotes from the above linked article:
Highlands superintendent Wally Cox
Can our district/state withstand the load for technology that FSA testing requires? We will be conducting an infrastucture trial, but it will be at a minimum, one lab per school, potentially fifteen to twenty labs, seventy five labs that will be utilized across the district during testing. We had inadequate time to perform district infrastructure trial before FSA survey is due. ... Does a successful lab, school or district infrastructure trial really measure the state's network to handle the capacity of test day? The stakes are too high to find this out during testing."

Sarasota superintendent Lori White
"There is great concern about completing the magnitude of computer based tests given the short timeframe. Further we are not confident in the AIR FSA testing platform, which relies on a constant connection to the internet. Finally, we are not convinced there is adequate internet capacity to support the number of simultaneous test takers within and across districts."

Baker superintendent Sherrie Raulerson
"We have additional concerns regarding the readiness of the state's infrastructure due to the additional statewide computer-based testing."

Bradford superintendent Chad Farnsworth
"The superintendent's signature verifies the readiness of technology. However, this does not verify Bradford's readiness to take the FSA assessment. There are many concerns related to adequate time to teach the new standards, question formats, scheduling issues and the state's readiness for testing."

Collier superintendent Kamela Patton
" It is being administered for the first time as a computer-based assessment, when neither the assessment or the state and local infrastructure to administer the assessment have been thoroughly field tested."

Lake superintendent Susan Moxley
"This district will always put forth every effort to meet assessment administration requirements as demonstrated by meeting the online certification requirements. It is important to recognize that the computer based assessment certification tool confirms that our district has the number of computers meeting specifications are available to rotate students through testing in order to complete the state required assessments. It does not reflect the adverse impact created in the areas of infrastructure, time, limited number of devices and disruption to instructional time."
In addition and sadly, the revisor of statutes inserted this excellent language into the statute books as a footnote instead of regular law, probably causing the department and districts to think they did not have to carefully follow it or follow it at all.
This situation is yet another black mark on AIR, which:
  • Is about to be dumped by the Utah, the state leasing test questions to Florida
  • Develops the computer adaptive testing platform for the federal SBAC test
  • Admits that computer adaptive testing is more for district and teacher accountability than for academic improvement of the child
  • Cannot keep their own employees' data secure
  • Admits they are data mining individual Florida students and teachers
  • Admits Common Core is a national curriculum
  • Promotes testing and research on controversial social issues instead of academics
  • Has a founder who was involved in racial eugenics experiments
All of this shows that it is the department and commissioner that need "accountability" even more than students, teachers and districts; that Florida should not have to suffer under federally mandated state tests and that the Mayfield /Bullard bill to allow paper and pencil testing and for districts and parents choose a pre-Common Core nationally normed test is the best solution to this situation.

FSCCC Statement on Federal and State Legislative Developments February, 2015

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC), an organization of over fifty statewide and local groups, is pleased to announce significant developments on education legislation at both the state and federal levels.  Here is the latest:

  • The US House of Representatives has  at least temporarily suspended consideration of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) replacement, The Student Success Act (HR 5) due in significant part to a huge outcry from parents and activists across the nation about the continuation of federally mandated statewide standards and tests.
  • The US Senate has delayed voting on S 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA) in response to a nationwide backlash over psychological profiling and data privacy and security concerns partly based on research by FSCCC and Education Liberty Watch.
  • Rep. Debbie Mayfield's (R-Indian River) excellent bills, HB 743/ SB 1406,  on educational sovereignty and HB 877/ SB 1450, on offering choice and options for the out of control Florida testing system, have also been filed in the Senate by Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Miami).
  • Another good bill (HB 1121/SB 1496) dealing with Common Core and testing has also been filed by Rep. John Tobia (R-Melbourne Beach) and Senator Greg Evers (R-Pensacola).
"We are incredibly thankful for the efforts of Rep. Mayfield, who has been a stalwart champion of educational freedom, as well as for the efforts of Senators Bullard and Evers, Rep. Tobia, and the parents, grandparents and citizens across the state who are working to protect the hearts and minds of our children," said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of FSCCC.  "The testing options provided in HB 877/SB 1450 are very important given the many problems with AIR, and the test and the technology problems experienced by districts.  The strong focus of HB 743/SB 1406 on state sovereignty is especially important given the heavy handed efforts of Congress to renew NCLB and expand federal data mining.  These state bills provide freedom to public schools and state sovereignty that Governor Bush at least said he wants. We also truly appreciate our partner anti-Common Core groups across the nation, our national partners, and the members of Congress who are standing against these tyrannical federal bills."
"The federal government has no constitutional role in education," said Catherine Baer, Chairwoman of the TEA Party Network.  "I am very encouraged by the bi-partisan efforts of Rep. Mayfield and Senator Bullard, as well as all of our member organizations and people across the nation to stand for our children and for state sovereignty, local and parental control."  
The Florid Stop Common Core Coalition - Dr. Karen Effrem
Office: 888-376-5550


Rep. Mayfield Files "Substantive" Opt-out Bill with Freedom for Students, Parents, & Public Schools Just as Bush Says HeWants February, 2015

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition thanks Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-Indian River) whose opt-out bill (HB 877) is the only one introduced so far that protects students, parents, teachers, duly elected local school boards, and constitutional autonomy.  The Tampa Bay Times calls the Mayfield bill "the first substantive testing-related proposal to come out of the Florida House, during a heated statewide debate that the Senate largely has taken the lead to tackle. Education blogger Bob Sikes calls the bill "remarkable."  

"As with her education sovereignty bill, Rep. Mayfield is listening to all the significant parties in this debate, said Dr. Karen Effrem," executive director of FSCCC.  "Her bill expands choice and freedom to students, parents, teachers and schools, and even fulfills Governor Bush's idea that government can 'figure out ways to liberate the traditional public schools' regarding testing." (See video at 28:10)

"This bill saves the taxpayers money, supports both the Florida and U.S. Constitutions, and allows expanded learning by letting teachers teach instead of proctoring tests," said Catherine Baer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Network.

"This legislation puts the student, the family, and duly elected school boards in charge, instead of bureaucratic big government and their corporate cronies," said Randy Osborne, director of education for Florida Eagle Forum and Heartland Research.

All three organizations strongly urge their members to support this legislation and to contact their legislators to co-sponsor and support it as well.  

This bill does the following:

  • Allows students to opt out of the tests without harmful consequences
  • Offers academic accountability by offering an option of a pre-Common Core nationally norm-referenced test instead of the state tests as is an option for private and home schooled students.  Governor Bush repeatedly has called for more options for all students.
  • Paper and pencil testing protects  students from the psychological and academic manipulation of computer adaptive testing
  • Paper and pencil testing protects younger children from doing poorly on the test due to not being capable of maneuvering the computer to answer those questions (i.e. "drag and drop') and the physiological harm of harm of increased radiation.
  • Reaffirms the right of parents to direct the education of their children, but still provides important academic information for their children.
  • Protects district autonomy by allowing  districts to give nationally  norm-referenced test instead of the computerized statewide assessment without harmful consequences regarding school grades and personnel evaluations
  • Allows schools and districts to choose paper and pencil testing for the statewide testing if they want to or do not have adequate equipment or personnel to administer the tests online.
  • Allows them to teach according to their skills instead of according Common Core's prescriptive and confusing pedagogy
  • Protects teachers from being penalized if parents and students exercise their rights to opt out of tests
  • Allows more teaching time because certified teachers won't be pulled out to proctor


Besides urging a not vote on HR 5, the Student Success Act that replaces No Child Left Behind, please contact your US representatives to vote NO on S 227, the Senate version of the federal data mining bill.  Having already passed the Senate last year and about to be passed again, it is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday February 25th in the US House.  S 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA) reauthorizes the 2002 Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that has been very problematic, because it started the concept of state longitudinal databases, stepped around the prohibition on a national database by creating "national cooperative education statistics systems,"  allowed personally identifiable information to go to international agencies, and removed the  previous penalties of fines and imprisonment for misusing individual student data. SETRA continues or worsens all of that. Here are four major problems with SETRA (A detailed analysis of these points is available at

1.  SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children
Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:
''and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively...'' (Emphasis added).
The US Department of Education (USED) is already a flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment.  The amount of data collected on individual children, families, and teachers via USED through this law and the weakening and loopholes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) that provided individual data to the federal government is appalling and a complete violation of the Fourth Amendment as well.  To then give the federal government the right to research the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children, is completely unacceptable and without justification. 

2.  SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
Section 157 of the bill takes out the word "national" and still only by words, prohibits a national database. While this appears to be an improvement, it unfortunately doesn't do anything to stop the egregious loss of privacy that has happened since ESRA established the national cooperative statistics systems and state longitudinal databases in 2002.  These databases have been enhanced by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Stimulus), Race to the Top, and the America COMPETES Act.  In addition they are relying on outdated and weak student privacy laws (FERPA and PPRA), there is no enforcement mechanism, and we have seen how the federal government repeatedly and flagrantly violates its promises not to extend its authority, as with Race to the Top, Common Core and the national tests. 
3. The bill continues to rely on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA to protect student privacy.
Both ESRA and SETRA refer to FERPA (20 USC 1232g) in Section 182 and requires data privacy to be handled according to that law.  However, FERPA passed in 1974 long before the presence of interoperable databases and cloud computing.  It also only discusses sanctions on entities that mishandle the data and those, which used to include fines and imprisonment, were severely weakened when ESRA was passed in 2002.  Students, families, and teachers whose sensitive personal and family data about everything from "social and emotional" issues to genetic data in newborn screening data, have no redress.  According to an investigation by Politico, education technology companies are "scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day." (Emphasis added) Finally, FERPA has been severely weakened via regulatory fiat to gut consent requirements and broaden access to data by federal agencies and private entities.
4. SETRA continues the large loophole that renders PPRA ineffective in protecting student privacy.
PPRA, cited in section 182 as 20 USC 1232h, prohibits the collection of psychological, political, religious, and other sensitive data in surveys, but not in curriculum and assessments such as in Common Core.

Rep. Mayfield Files Educational Sovereignty Bill Even Jeb Bush Should Like February, 2015

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition is very grateful and happy to announce that Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-Indian River) has filed HB 743 on educational sovereignty for Florida.   The bill has two main components:

  1. It prohibits the state of Florida from ceding sovereignty over education matters- 
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department of Education or a district school board may not enter into any agreement, memorandum of understanding, or contract with a federal agency or private entity that cedes or limits the state's or school district's control over the development, adoption, or revision of the state's academic content standards or corresponding assessments, including, but not limited to, agreements, memoranda, or contracts for funding public schools.
  1. The bill prohibits standardized testing, as well as school grades and teacher evaluations based on those tests until the standards are changed.
"This is very important and excellent legislation," said Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of FSCCC. "It both returns state sovereignty and local control to Florida and it works at dealing with the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core/Florida standards.  And it has the added benefit of being in synch with recent remarks of Governor Jeb Bush, so the leadership should like it."

Here are some quotes from the former governor:
"I'm for higher standards," he said. "And I'm for creating real restrictions of the federal government's role in this so you can alleviate people's fears that you're going to have some kind of control by the federal government of content or curriculum or even standards." (During press availability after his February 10th summit) - This bill protects does exactly what governor recommends from the perspective of the state.

"And in my view, the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms." (From Bush's Foundation summit speech 11/19/14 with FSCCC analysis) - Laying aside for a moment that even the chief architects and proponents of Common Core like David Coleman, Jason Zimba, and Bill Gates admit that the standards are neither rigorous nor tested, this statement should promote the idea that Florida's standards should still be changed to something like the proven pre-Common Core standards of states like Massachusetts, Indiana, California, Texas, Minnesota and yes, Florida, whose standards are said by the administration to be the foundation of Common Core.
"This bill is a great way to deal with federal overreach and the very problematic standards," said Randy Osborne, director of research for Florida Eagle Forum and Heartland Research.

"We are very grateful for the strong stand that Representative Mayfield has taken to support local control, parental rights and academic excellence," said Meredith Mears of Florida Parents RISE.

"This legislation definitely embodies the concepts of limited government upon which our organization was founded and for which our many member groups fight every day," said Catherine Baer, chairwoman of the TEA Party Network.

All of these organizations look forward to working together on this sovereignty bill as well as with the legislature, Governor Scott, parents and citizens all over the state to protect the hearts and minds of our children and sovereignty, local control and parental rights.

Over 500 Professors Sign Letter saying that Bush-Obama Style Test Based Accountability Does Not Work February, 2015

Both Congress and the Florida Legislature need to pay attention! More than five hundred university professors signed a statement authored by the National Education Policy Center detailing that test based accountability used during the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as in Florida and many other states, have been ineffective in improving academic achievement or closing achievement gaps.In other words, both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top/Common Core have been a failure.

Here are some of the concluding statements of the paper with some commentary:

"The broad consensus among researchers is that this system [NCLB and RTTT] is at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. The issues now being debated in Washington largely ignore these facts about the failure of test-based educational reform, and the proposals now on the table simply gild, rather than transform, a strategy with little or no promise...
The ultimate question we should be asking isn't whether test scores are good measures of learning, whether growth modeling captures what we want it to, or even whether test scores are increasing; it is whether the overall impact of the reform approach can improve or is improving education. Boosting test scores can, as we have all learned, be accomplished in lots of different ways, some of which focus on real learning but many of which do not. An incremental increase in reading or math scores means almost nothing, particularly if children's engagement is decreased; if test-prep comes at a substantial cost to science, civics, and the arts; and if the focus of schooling as a whole shifts from learning to testing."

The data shows that even test scores have not improved significantly under all of this expesnive, stressful "drill and grill," "teach to the test" accountability. Here is national data from the Cato Institute that we have shown before showing stagnant scores and little meaningful closing of the achievement gap despite $2 TRILLION in federal education spending:

There is contradictory data from Florida regarding NAEP scores. 
A 2010 Heritage Foundation report gives Bush's reforms great credit in improving the achievement gap between white and minority students with this chart and he brags about that a lot in his speeches:

Yet, the 2011 NAEP report itself said the following:
In 2011, Hispanic students had an average score that was15 points lower than White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1992 (15 points). (Emphasis added).

In addition, an NPR fact check report by Kyla Calvert about Bush's touting of this information at a recent Detroit Economic Club speech:

Can the above-average scores that Florida's Hispanic students receive on these national tests be attributed to Bush's reforms? It's hard to say.

On the 1998 reading test, Hispanic fourth-graders were already scoring higher than Hispanic students nationally, but by only about half a grade level instead of nearly two grade levels.

Hispanic eighth-graders scored two points behind the national average on that same exam. On the 1996 math exams, Hispanic students in Florida scored two points ahead of the national average in both fourth- and eighth-grade math.

Since 2003, fourth-grade reading scores for Florida's Hispanic students have risen twice as fast as for Hispanics nationally.

But on every other exam -- fourth-grade math and eighth-grade math and reading -- the national average for Hispanics has risen faster than average scores in Florida.
(Emphasis added).

Finally, here is an infographic from Conversation Ed showing that scores on the statewide assessment FCAT only improved 1% in ten years while Florida spent 20% of its education budget on testing, which is the second highest in the nation:
While this groups statements on test score -based accountability are accurate, their proposed solution s of spending more money as shown above are not particularly helpful and their ideas about expanding universal preschool are inaccurate as documented in much research that shows:

The following are what really reduces or even eliminates the achievement gap according to research by Dr. William Jeynes of the University of California at Santa Barbara:

1. Intact Families and Religious Faith

Dr. Jeynes found, "data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to examine the impact of student religious commitment and living in intact families on academic achievement among black and Hispanic 12th graders. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures and higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity. "(Emphasis added). Believe it or not, these two combined ERASE the achievement gap and is the only thing known to accomplish that feat. For all the billions and billions, if not trillions, of dollars spent on education at the state and federal levels, this is the only thing that actually accomplishes that noble goal. When we discuss welfare reform, we need to not penalize Dad's involvement as families wean of the program and we will reap many other important benefits.

2. Phonics Instruction

There are significant improvements in reading scores for poor and minority children taught with phonics. This has been known for a long time from many other additional studies and is just common sense, but unfortunately for our nation's poorest children, is not being adequately implemented.

3. Real Parental Involvement

The positive effects of parental involvement hold for both White and minority secondary children on academic performance. We do need to empower parents as much as possible.




Utah Reveals that Florida AIR Test Question Rental Will be for THREE Years and Cost $16.2 Million February, 2015

In information found on the Utah legislative website, it turns out that Florida will not just be renting questions for the American Institute for Research (AIR) Common Core test from that state for one year for $5.4 million, but that it will be for three years.  This will be at a cost of $16.2 million dollars on top of the $220 million over six years that Florida will spend on that test with AIR.

Here is the text from the Utah legislative website:

Leasing of SAGE Online Adaptive Test Questions - Ben Leishman

The State of Florida has requested to use Utah's SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) test questions for the next three years.  Florida is in the process of developing an online computer-adaptive assessment system similar to SAGE and will use Utah's questions until their system is fully developed.  Utah and Florida are using the same contractor, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), to assist in the development of both systems. 

Through the agreement, Utah will provide AIR with the rights to use the Utah owned questions in Florida.  Utah will receive $1.50 per student for each question used in Florida.  Based on current estimates, Utah may receive approximately $5.4 million a year, or $16.2 million over the three-year contract. In exchange for the right to use Utah's questions, AIR will reduce its contract costs for the SAGE system.  This reduction in contract costs will result in higher nonlapsing balances in the Utah State Office of Education line item for the next three years.

The Utah State Board of Education presented details on this agreement to the Executive Appropriations Committee during its June 17, 2014 meeting. Additional information on this issue can be found in the brief titled "Leasing of SAGE Online Adaptive Test Questions." 

Policymakers and the public had been led to believe that this rental situation was to be for one year.  This is yet another disappointing twist in the AIR saga.  AIR is focusing heavily on psychosocial testing and data collection, manipulative computer adaptive testing, controversial social emotional intelligence, experimental education programs, admits that Common Core is a national curriculum, its founder was involved in racial eugenics experiments, and collects data on individual students and teachers through their national longitudinal database.  There is no doubt that Florida should cancel its contract with this organization.


FSCCC Releases Major Paper on the Psychological Manipulation in Common Core and AIR/SBAC Tests February, 2015

As states and the federal government deal with issues of testing and data privacy, Dr. Karen Effrem, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and president of Education Liberty Watch, has just released a major new paper on the psychosocial manipulation within the Common Core Standards and aligned assessments following recent articles on AIR's ties to racial eugenics experiments and the extensive behavioral data collection being done by education technology companies. This paper deals specifically with psychosocial manipulation, indoctrination, profiling, data collection and the potential physical harm to children of online testing and curriculum due to radiation. The full paper with detailed references is available at

"This information underscores the psychological and physical harm of the Common Core system to our children in addition to the academic and developmental damage that we have previously discussed," said Dr. Karen Effrem.

"As a parent of two students in Florida's public schools and someone who has extensively researched the American Institutes for Research and the Florida Standards Assessment contract, I believe that this is information that every parent of a school aged child and policy maker should have," said parent activist and researcher, Suzette Armenteros Lopez.

Below is information from the executive summary.


Dr. Karen Effrem
Office: 888-376-5550

Psychological Manipulation in the Standards as admitted by the US DOE and many national groups, Common Core is about far more than academics:
  • US DOE: "In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics." (Emphasis added.)
  • National Association of State Boards of Education: "Various elements of SEL (social emotional learning) can be found in nearly every state's K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts." (Emphasis added).
  • The American School Counselors Association: "Mindsets & behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level." (Emphasis added).
Psychological Manipulation and Indoctrination in the Curriculum
  • Springboard English Common Core aligned curriculum, used in 40 Florida school districts requires students to answer survey questions on their views on capitalism vs communism in a chapter called the Marxist Perspective, describing Marx merely as an "economist" and "philosopher."
  • Springboard English also required students to self-rate on the Kohlberg scale of moral reasoning, an overt psychological assessment.  Answers to these types of subjective surveys will be in a student's permanent record, especially as curriculum becomes digital.
  • September 9, 2013 Political Party Activity for middle school students in Indian River County, Florida in English class linked to specific Common Core standards per the teacher's lesson plan.
CCSS: LACC.68.RH.1,2, LACC.68.RH.2.4, LACC.68.WHST.1.2, LACC.7.SL.1.1
Psychological Profiling in the Statewide Assessments - The federally funded, federally supervised national Common Core tests like PARCC and SBAC, the computer adaptive platform for which is developed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), as well as state tests by AIR in Florida and other states, and ACT are being used to psychologically profile and data mine students.
  • AIR, founded by a psychologist directing eugenics experiments in the 1930s; rarely mentions academic achievement; instead touting their "behavioral and social science research;" promotes education using "social and emotional intelligence" theories; and admits Common Core is a national curriculum.
  • Computer adaptive testing will not provide uniform results even across a classroom or state; much less the nation and can manipulate attitudes.
Data Privacy
  • Due to regulatory weakening of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, it is easy for data from CCSS tests to be collected and sent to the federal government, corporations and researchers without parental consent.
  • AIR admits to data mining individual students and teachers in multiple states, including Florida through their national longitudinal data center.
  • According to an investigation by Politico, ed-tech companies may be collecting as many as 10 million unique data points per child per day without consent.
  • AIR is involved in psychosocial data mining projects like the Social Genome Project and Project Talent.
Physical Harm due to Electromagnetic Fields According to study cited by Forbes (1/15/15), due to the thinness of their skulls, younger children are much more susceptible to harm from the wireless technology for teaching and testing the Common Core standards and curriculum that has been classified as a Group 2B carcinogen by an organization within the World Health Organization.

Recommendations - On the basis of all of this information, we recommend the following:
  1. No standards or curriculum should be teaching or assessing psychosocial attitudes, values and beliefs.
  2. No assessments, surveys, software, gaming system, individual learning system, or data collection labeled for academic use should be collecting data on non-cognitive, psychosocial attitudes, values or beliefs.
  3. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment should be updated to protect students from psychosocial assessments and data collection within academic curriculum and data collection in addition to its many other problems of inadequately protecting student and teacher data privacy and security.
  4. Aside from the psychological manipulation of the standards, they are academically inferior and developmentally inappropriate and Florida should either return to their pre-Common Core standards or choose from among the best pre-Common Core standards in the nation, such as California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas in English; and California, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Minnesota in math.
  5. No federal funds should go to any state or district in support of any education program that involves psychosocial attitudes, values, and beliefs that are intermixed into academic standards, curriculum, assessments, or data collection.
  6. Aside from the psychological manipulation of the standards, they are academically inferior and developmentally inappropriate and Florida should either return to their pre-Common Core standards or choose from among the best pre-Common Core standards in the nation, such as California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas in English and California, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Minnesota in math, which is something that other states should strongly consider as well.
  7. The AIR testing contract should be canceled in Florida and examined in any other state where it is present and parents and or districts should be able to choose a pre-Common Core nationally norm-referenced test.
  8. The Work Sampling System should no longer be used to screen kindergarten students.
  9. Computer adaptive testing should be prohibited.
  10. Exposure to wireless devices, especially for young children, in school should be minimized.

AIR Founder Involved in Racial Eugenics Experiments January, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

As we honor the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who "had a dream" that " little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," parents and policy makers should be aware of the sordid eugenics past of John Flanagan, the founder of the American Institutes of Research (AIR).  AIR is the organization that is doing the computer adaptive testing platform for the Florida's Common Core aligned statewide assessment at the cost of $220 million over six years plus another $15 million over three years to rent test questions from Utah where they were field tested.  AIR is also developing the computer adaptive testing platform for the federally funded, federally supervised Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) being used for the Common Core assessments in 18 states plus the US Virgin Islands as well as Florida, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona, which have separate contracts with AIR.

AIR founder John C. Flanagan, was the chief psychologist involved in eugenics experiments via an organization called the Pioneer Fund, which greatly supported and promoted Nazi eugenics experiments during the 1930s and 1940s, such as paying for a film called "'Eugenics in Germany,' the Nazi film that had been distributed for viewing by [U.S.] high-school students." Pioneer Fund founding president Harry Laughlin said, "[w]hen education is expected to result in practical long-time race betterment, the moving picture in the school offers a profitable medium for presenting facts." Flanagan was described by a Pioneer Fund board member as "a psychologist, trained ... when the new psychological weapons were developed."

Flanagan summarized the work of the Pioneer Fund this way in his proposal for first major research project - the eugenics experiment involving the birth rates of U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in the 1930's when African Americans were not allowed to be pilots:

"My understanding is that the fundamental purpose for which the Pioneer Fund was created is the improvement of the human race. The general method chosen to further this end is to secure an increase in the birth rate among superior groups."(Emphasis added).

The data sheet
which was intended to gather information for this project, asked the Junior officers and their wives for their "Race Descent (Name the four principal racial stocks with portion or approximate portions of blood from each). (Emphasis added)"

It is a sad commentary on the philosophy of the AIR organization that its founder would begin his career with such a group. Is this the philosophy that is underpinning AIR's subjective and controversial psychosocial data mining projects? Here are just two examples:
  • The Social Genome Project - The idea of this project is to leverage "digital traces in various government data systems, which can collectively capture our social genome, the footprints of our society (Emphasis in original)" in order to, "if properly analyzed and interpreted...offer crucial insights into many of the most challenging problems facing our society (i.e. affordable and accessible quality healthcare, economics, education, employment, and welfare)." This effort collects and measures data on children through the life cycle and includes subjective and controversial social emotional data mining on children in early and middle childhood:
  • Project Talent  that started in 1960 collecting over 2,000 data points on over 440,000 high school students, the goals of which were to study and or produce among other things: 1) An inventory of human resources 2) A set of standards for educational and psychological measurement 3) Interests, aptitude and background factors 4) The effectiveness of various types of educational experience. Even before the federal government was involved in measuring data on students by race via the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, this study used racial data as one of its parameters. (See this data handbook for the freshman class, p. 5-6 of the PDF, and all of the data elements HERE).
There are many other problems with AIR that we have extensively chronicled and others that are coming to light:
  • The major emphasis of this organization on controversial and psychosocial topics and research in education instead of academics (See HERE, HERE, and HERE).
  • Psychological manipulation in their computer adaptive testing as evidenced by this interview with a 13 year old boy who took Utah's Common Core test developed by AIR:
  • Jon Cohen, AIR's president of testing, and listed on Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education website, admitted that computer adaptive testing for accountability has nothing to do with helping students improve academically:
"When you are using the test for accountability, you're not really using it to measure the kid, but you are using it to measure the school or the teacher or the district. (Emphasis added)"

Please contact Governor Scott and your legislators and tell them you are appalled that Florida would use such a problematic organization with such a sordid past to test and data mine our children.  Tell them you want them to:
  • Cancel the AIR contract immediately
  • Reaffirm parents' rights to opt out of testing
  • Leave the choice of tests to districts and or parents as is done with private and home school students that choose from among a list of nationally norm referenced tests
  • Prohibit online and computer adaptive testing
  • Prohibit psychological testing within the statewide or any other academic assessments
Thank you and stay tuned! Much more new information is coming soon!


FSBA Issue Brief indicates End of Course Exams Could Cost as much as $2 BILLION to Implement January, 2015

In an issues brief on high stakes testing document that was used at a Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) school finances forum probably last year because it mentions the FCAT and just given to FSCCC, it appears that there is great concern from the FSBA that the costs of End of Course (EOC) assessments will be prohibitively expensive:

"It has been estimated that the unfunded non-recurring costs for these local assessments and related costs could be as much as $1.5-$2 billion statewide, with recurring annual costs of as much as $1 billion." (Page 4 - Emphasis added)
This adds much fuel to the fire of concern expressed by legislators during committee hearings last week.  For instance, Former Senate President and current Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Don Gaetz said in the Senate Education Committee hearing (Video of the entire hearing available HERE at 1:15)

"We don't know how much time is consumed by state-mandated tests," he said. "We don't know much money it costs to perform state-mandated tests. We don't know whether tests that are required by state mandate are valid and reliable."

Embattled Hillborough Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia testified about the problems of administering the tests online and how it takes away from instructional time even though they are a large district with a lot more resources than smaller rural districts:

It's not the assessment," she said. "I agree with the assessments matched to the standards. But the way that we're administrating it is going to cause -- and has caused -- an excessive amount of time to be used in the school, and it is a disruption." (Emphasis added)

Commissioner Pam Stewart was asked to respond in writing about the opt out issue and then received six more pages of questions from senators a few days after the hearings that include:

How much total time will students spend during the 2014-15 school year on state-required assessments? How much total funding will be expended (state and local dollars) on state-required assessments?

They also asked Stewart to what extent she believes "that each school district is ready, with appropriate technology already in place, to successfully administer all statewide, standardized and state-required assessments this spring."

Hopefully, all of this discussion on testing will lead to good legislation affirming parental opt out rights, prohibiting psychological assessment, strengthening data privacy and parental curriculum review.  Stay tuned!

Please Stand for Accurate, Unbiased Texts by Attending January 15th Charlotte County Textbook Challenge Committee January, 2015


Charlotte County School Board meeting room at: Murdock Administration Building 1445 Education Way, Port Charlotte, FL 33948 (2-story building on corner of Education Way and Murdock Circle, across from the Town Center Mall, Port Charlotte. Go in main entrance, make right, and enter room #107.)

Kudos to Tina Lawler and other members of the ACT! for America textbook review committee for their hard work in exposing religious bias in the World History textbooks in Charlotte County.  As happened in Marion, Volusia, Broward and others, this is becoming a major problem.  These parents and concerned citizens are using to the best they can the opportunity afforded by SB 864 that passed last year to review the materials and may be one of the first in the state to formally follow the process set by that law. 

Their summary report is available HERE with just one example:
In the Prentice Hall text [World History - Connections to Today], the roots of Judaism are covered in three pages of one section in Chapter 2, entitled, "First Civilizations". Hinduism and Buddhism are contained in two pages and three pages respectively a single section in Chapter 4, entitled, "Empires of India and China. Christianity is presented in a single five page section of Chapter 6, entitled "Ancient Rome and the Rise of Christianity". However, the authors devoted an entire chapter to Islam, entitled, "The Muslim World", containing five separate sections and consisting of 19 pages of instruction.

Here are the conclusion and recomendations:

Conclusion: The textbooks examined by our members demonstrated the same patterns of omissions, errors and bias as found by the investigators from ACT! for America Education, Inc. Additionally, the quantity and specificity of the information presented varied widely between the religions, with the religion of Islam being presented in a much more voluminous and deliberate manner.

Recommendation: That the members of the Charlotte County School Board accomplish the following:
1. State for the record that no special recognition in the teaching of history should be accorded any religion to the detriment of other faiths.
2. Appoint a committee of community volunteers consisting, at a minimum, of parents, clergy and educators tasked to review the contents of any textbooks used within the county where the subject of religion is an integral part of the teaching process. The work of this committee should be transparent and open to all citizens to observe the proceedings.
3. Require the committee to report to the school board in an open meeting the results, conclusions and recommendations of its review.
4. Upon review of the committee's report, suspend from use within the Charlotte County Public School District all textbooks that demonstrate significant errors, omissions, bias or a lack of appropriate balance in regard to volume or specificity in the treatment of any religion.
5. Notify the authors/publishers of the textbooks suspended, the action taken by the Board, and request they produce textbooks that more closely meet the stringent requirements of the Charlotte County Public School District.

Let us see if this new law truly affords the parental rights it was intended to do before being put through the legislative mill in Tallahassee.

Politico - Corporations Gathering 10 MILLION Uniqure Data Points on Every Student January, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

In a chilling article by Stephanie Simon, Politico spilled the beans on how Ed-Tech corporations are gathering frightening amounts of data on our children:

"The amount of data being collected is staggering. Ed tech companies of all sizes, from basement startups to global conglomerates, have jumped into the game. The most adept are scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day. That's orders of magnitude more data than Netflix or Facebook or even Google collect on their users. (Emphasis added)."
Here are some concerning examples that include Broward County here in Florida and evidence of continued psychological monitoring:
  • In recent months, more than 30 public school districts from Bainbridge Island, Washington, to Broward County, Florida, have signed partnerships with a nonprofit called The organization gives schools free curricular materials and teacher training to set up computer science classes.
    All it asks for in exchange: Data. Lots and lots of data. requires that its partner schools turn over up to a dozen years of academic records, including test scores, on every participating student, according to a model contract reviewed by POLITICO. (Emphasis added)
  • The NSA has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton.
    The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch -- and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday. (Emphasis added)
  • "Interactive Health Technologies stores multi-year fitness records on students, based on data from heart monitors they wear in P.E., and integrates them with "unlimited data points" from the classroom, including behavioral and nutrition records."
  • "LiveSchool, which markets software that helps schools track student behavior"
  • Consider the popular nonprofit tutorial service Khan Academy. It's free. But users do pay a price: In effect, they trade their data for the tutoring.
    "Data is the real asset," founder Sal Khan told an academic conference last fall.
    The site tracks the academic progress of students 13 and older as they work through online lessons in math, science and other subjects. It also logs their location when they sign in and monitors their Web browsing habits. And it reserves the right to seek out personal details about users from other sources, as well, potentially building rich profiles of their interests and connections.
The heart rate monitors used by Interactive Health Technologies are analogous to the studies that the Gates Foundation has been funding to be able to "detect how they responded on an a subconscious level to each minute of each lesson. The results suggested the sensors could be useful for teachers, foundation spokeswoman Deborah Robinson said. (Emphasis added)"

A biometric bracelet named ''Q Sensor'' is shown in this undated image released to Reuters on June 13, 2012. According to the manufacturer's website, the sensor measures ''emotional arousal in real-world.'' The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an ''engagement pedometer.'' Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them -- and which fall flat. The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall. REUTERS/Affectiva/Handout

These are the same type of sensors pictured from the now infamous US DOE report on Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance that became so controversial, it was removed from the website, but is available HERE.


The CEO of Knewton arrogantly dismisses the concerns of parents and privacy advocates:
When parents protest that they don't want their children data-mined, Ferreira wishes he could ask them why: Is it simply that they don't want a for-profit company to map their kids' minds? If not, why not? "They'd rather the NSA have it?" he asked. "What, you trust the government?"...

...He once described education as "the world's most data-mineable industry, by far" -- and he has raised $105 million from investors who share that vision. By next year, he expects to be mapping the minds of 10 million students. If he can identify who among them will struggle with fractions next Thursday, he can also recommend resources to help them before they hit that wall.
Ferreira has a tough time understanding how anyone could object to data mining when it has such power.
"It just helps children," Ferreira said. "That's all it does." (Emphasis added).

His attitude is reminiscent of the chief of the National Center for Education Statistics, Jack Buckley, who basically believes that the data belongs to the feds because of funds received.
He spoke of the "rights of our students & their families to keep their data confidential & secret as appropriate, but also to balance the needs that we have for the massive investment in education, of understanding its returns, of understanding how the system is working, how do we improve it, with the ultimate goal always of improving the educational outcomes of our citizens..."

At the federal level, FERPA needs to be revamped to prevent the loopholes that are now occurring i the regulations about what data is allowed to corporations and the government without consent, but there also needs to be a very strong prohibition on psychological data gathering and the PPRA that prohibits this needs to apply to curriculum and assessments as well as surveys.

At the state level, there needs to be a fundamental  shift away from relying on FERPA and a prohibition on all psychosocial assessment and data gathering.  As well intentioned as the prohibitions on individual data elements like biometric data may have been in the bill that passed in Florida last year, if ten million elements are being gathered on every child, that will be like trying to bail out the ocean with a teaspoon.  Our legislators will have to decide whether to support the privacy interests of our children or the financial interests of corporations.




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