Pressure is growing to stop the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Florida. There are concerns that parents, students and citizens are being pushed aside and not listened to by those responsible for the education of Florida’s children, especially Governor Rick Scott.
One concern is that George Levesque, General Counsel for the President of the Florida Senate Don Gaetz, may be biased in favor of the implementation of Common Core. Levesque is the husband of Patricia Levesque, who runs the state-focused Foundation for Florida’s Future and the national Foundation for Excellence in Education, both created by former Governor Jeb Bush. Bush is pushing CCSS in Florida and nation wide.
Floridians Against Common Core Education (FACCE) has asked the governor to take a further step in cleaning up the CCS legislative apparatus in Tallahassee to include insisting that Pam Stewart, Kathleen Shanahan and Sally Bradshaw of the Florida Board of Education, Mary Ellen Elia, Hillsborough Superintendent of Schools, and Florida legislators John Thrasher, John Legg, Joe Negron, Erik Fresen, Anitere Flores, Don Gaetz, Kelli Stargel, and Will Weatherford to remove themselves from serving on the Jeb Bush Foundation for Excellence in Education.
On Friday, October 4th, the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC), a statewide coalition representing dozens of organizations and hundreds of thousands of Florida parents and citizens, sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott with copies to interim Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart, Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand, and the Florida legislature.
The letter accuses Governor Scott of playing the citizens of Florida. The FSCCC letter lists the following concerns:
- Commissioner Pam Stewart has made statements to the press that “while the Department of Education plans to hold community town hall meetings to hear from the public about the pros and cons of the new Common Core State Standards, she [Stewart] expects little changes in the curriculum as a result.”
- Statements were made by the commissioner to other opponent groups indicate that parents will have a mere three minutes per specific standard to make their concerns known, forcing them to wade through hundreds of pages of standards documents and become pedagogical experts in order to advocate for their children, mirroring the same intimidating process put forth by Senator John Legg in his call for input.
- The planned format will not allow for parents and experts to discuss what is missing from the standards, poor organization, and other problems.
- Each hearing is scheduled to be only three hours long, which will be inadequate for both the public and experts to testify about the many flaws with the standards themselves, much less the very important related concerns regarding data mining, psychological manipulation and testing, etc.
“The plan for these hearings and the statements by the commissioner are reminiscent of the manipulative practices employed during the education accountability summit,” said Randy Osborne, director of education for Florida Eagle Forum and Heartland Research. “These actions combined with the deceptive radio ads promoted by former Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, a foundation funded by the corporate interests that stand to profit immensely from Common Core at the expense of our children, are an insult to Floridians and an assault on our liberties.”
“All of this evidence that these hearings are meant to be manipulated to the pre-determined outcome of continuing to ram Common Core down the throats of Florida families and citizens, as was done during the education summit, is a major betrayal of the trust of Floridians,” said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and a co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. Our statewide coalition calls upon Governor Scott and the legislature to stop protecting the wealthy and powerful special corporate and foundation interests at the expense of our children. We demand open and transparent public hearings now and support of Representative Mayfield’s HB 25 to completely stop funding and implementation of Common Core until much more information is available regarding academic quality, cost and data privacy. HB 25 is the true implementation of concepts in Governor Scott’s order and letters.”