Common Core: Into the Bowels of the Beast


Bob Root and Debbie from American Patriot News.

This week, Once again, several grassroots activists fighting to restore local control and to bring common sense not common core to education, headed off for the long drive to Tallahassee.  Bob Root, of American Patriot News hosted us from the outskirts of the city and we helped put his excellent papers together for distribution.

We started early the next morning, darting in to see this legislator and make an appointment with that one, chatting with staff and exploring the labyrinth of the oddly constructed capitol buildings armed with research papers, copies of our bill, agendas, directories and very high hopes.

Tuesday, 2/10/15 was the date of the Florida House Education Sub-Committee Chaired by Representative Janet Adkins.  We sat right in front so we could see and be seen.  Having attended several mind numbingly dull presentations, I admired the legislators’ ability to appear attentive and wondered what they were really thinking.

The presentation that day was about (taxpayers spending more money for) training Principals to do better.  They were lamenting the lack of good candidates and had done some research showing “61% of superintendents in Urban areas can’t find the leaders they need” from a paper, “Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World”, by Linda Darling-Hammond, who is ironically one of the architects of Common Core.

The first speaker mentioned time spent doing compliance VS Instructional time was a factor in the reason that 75% of potential candidates thought the job was too complex and 60% rated the job of Principal “unattractive.”

Their solution for all of this was…you guessed it… More Expensive Training.

My brain immediately reverted to my days of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley where we were taught in management to look at the whole process, and not just the individual or position.  Generally such discontent arises from a systemic problem.  As an example, let’s use bowling.

If you are a bowler trying to make a good score, and there is a large hole in the middle of your lane, would you think more lessons would help you get a higher score?  Or would you fix the hole first?  Just asking….

Those people in the study were all pointing to the hole in the alley as the reason the job of Principal is so hard.  The 800 pound gorilla in the room is Federal and State micromanagement which has created a bureaucratic nightmare of convoluted reporting schemes. Common Core and High Stakes Testing is the last and largest straw that has just broken the camel’s back.  When they are losing 40% of class time just for testing by many accounts, how can they be expected to perform miracles?

Well, Senator John Legg has proposed SB 616, a bill that has no Leggs.  This brilliant senator changes none of the bureaucratic testing mandates, but adds a new one, that schools can test no more than 5% of their class time.  If tests exceed that, they have to send letters to parents for permission for additional testing.  Wow!  That’s only 9 of 180 days.  But wait, who’s going to count?   Does that count the time students are in the gym while someone uses their class for testing?  Or their teacher is proctoring for retests or make up tests?  Where will they record the amount of testing?  Who will send out the letters to parents for permission?  What happens when they don’t approve?  My head is aching with complexities pulsating in my exploding brain.

I composed my thoughts and decided I should say something, stand up for taxpayers and point out the obvious to our illustrious leaders.  We worked hard to develop a solution that has something for everyone to love.  Surely they wanted to hear about the good news.  This being a public hearing, public testimony is mandated by law.  Having properly filled in the request to speak, we patiently waited our turn.

With nearly seven minutes left in the meeting, the Chair acknowledged the fact that two people had submitted a request to speak.  But she said “we will not be taking public input at this time.”  So after driving 7 hours each way to be there to let them know any of these thoughts, we were summarily dismissed.

Do you think it’s time we all come to Tallahassee?  Check to see if your representatives will “dismiss” your thoughts about your children and what they need.  This must end.

March for the Children is scheduled for March 5, 2015 in Tallahassee, FL.