Florida judge orders Catholic mother who home schools to put child in public school

The Home School Legal Defense Association recently filed a friend of the court (amicus curiae) brief with the Florida Third District Court of Appeal in Miami explaining the broad success of homeschooling, demonstrated not only through academic studies but also in social engagement.

Why an Amicus Brief?

In their fight to preserve and expand homeschool freedom, HSLDA sometimes files amicus briefs in cases on appeal in which they have not represented the family. The HSLDA’s latest amicus brief was filed where a family court judge shocked a longtime homeschooling mother at a hearing on visitation by ordering her children to immediately begin attending public school.

HSLDA does not represent families in custody cases. But when the mother’s lawyer contacted them and explained the case details, they knew that the Court of Appeal could benefit from an outside look at the case—an amicus brief.

The Backstory

The mother and father have been fighting over visitation for years, and a scheduled hearing last summer seemed to be just the latest skirmish in the war. A court-appointed psychologist testified that the children were all doing well academically. But at the hearing, the guardian ad litem—appointed by the court to represent the children’s best interest—testified that her “gut reaction” was that the children should be in public school for socialization. The guardian also used the mother’s “ultra Catholic” beliefs as evidence against homeschooling, even though the divorce agreement had mandated that the children be raised Catholic.

Without warning, the judge used the hearing not just to rule on the visitation schedule, but also to order the kids into public school, even though the father had not made education an issue before the hearing. The judge lectured the mother, “When are they going to socialize? Is homeschool going to continue through college and/or professional schooling? At which point are these children going to interact with other children, and isn’t that in their best interest?” With that, the judge changed a long-standing court order permitting homeschooling and ordered the children into the local school.

The HSLDA Brief

HSLDA filed a brief arguing that the family should be allowed to continue homeschooling. In our amicus brief, we contended that if the mother had received warning that homeschooling would be at issue, she could have presented a substantial body of evidence that homeschoolers are well-socialized. We pointed to a number of academic studies that show homeschool graduates to be successful college students and adults.

“It is truly unfortunate that after decades of homeschooling parents are still fighting a battle against ignorance and ‘What about socialization?’ ” said Jim Mason, HSLDA’s litigation counsel. “We see this as an excellent opportunity to educate judges in Florida about homeschooling success.”


Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.

HSLDA advocates on the legal front on behalf of our members in matters which include conflicts with state or local officials over homeschooling. Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and phone, hundreds more are represented through negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings. HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent. On occasion, HSLDA will handle precedent-setting cases for nonmembers, as well.

Common Core scandal: Medical and disciplinary reports on children hacked

As the Florida Department of Education, Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush and key Florida legislators move forward to implement Common Core State Standards in the sunshine state a database in Long Island’s Sachem School District is compromised.

Nancy Smith from Sunshine State News reports, “On Long Island earlier this month a hacker apparently was able to access records in the Sachem School District and leak personal student data to a web forum. The records included medical and disciplinary reports.” According to The Journal News, in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam counties, N.Y., the database uploads to Web Cloud run by inBloom, a nonprofit group funded by the Gates Foundation and supported by Amazon.

“Surprisingly, the breach didn’t come as a great shock to the community. Even before it transpired, parents and teachers were concerned about data collection and the potential of sharing it or stealing it,” writes Smith.  Also reported in The Journal News, “More than 20 districts in the Lower Hudson Valley have pulled out of New York’s participation in the federal Race to the Top initiative, hoping that doing so will allow them to withhold certain data. Since the state has said that this strategy will not work, districts are now writing to inBloom directly and requesting that their student records be deleted.”

Governor Scott has raised concerns about the data mining portion of Common Core but has not supported legislation to either delay or stop its implementation in Florida. Florida Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-FL District 54) has introduced HB 25 to delay implementation until the costs and impact of Common Core can be determined.

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch.

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and a co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and Randy Osborne, Director of Education for Heartland Research and the Florida Eagle Forum, did a Policy Analysis of Common Core in Florida. Effrem and Osborne state, “The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs. According to the US Department of Education, this will be carefully regulated through the extensive data-mining of both students and teachers using devices such as ‘facial expression cameras,’ ‘posture analysis seats,’ ‘a pressure mouse,’ and ‘wireless skin conductance sensors’ as well as the use of the actual assessments. The federal government asserts that to secure their definition of improving the quality of education, a student’s right to privacy may be sacrificed.”

Commenting on the Sachem School District data compromise Effrem states, “A number of standards will be used for the psychological training of children starting at a young age … One of the main goals for uniform national assessments is for the federal government to have access to highly personal individual student data. It isn’t just teachers and school officials who can request and get students’ records. It’s also ‘a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions … Common Core completely strips the child of privacy.”

Dr. Effrem writes, “The utter failure of proponents of Common Core to make rational arguments about this imposed system of inferior, psychosocial workforce training standards, national tests and data collection has stimulated them to lash out to mock and marginalize anyone who opposes it. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined former Governor Jeb Bush and Senate President Don Gaetz in now bipartisan sneering derision of parental and citizen concerns. Duncan created a firestorm on Friday (11/15) with his mocking, racist attack on mothers that oppose Common Core: ‘It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.'” Duncan has since issued an apology for his remarks.

A new Facebook group, Moms Against Duncan (MAD), has almost 1600 members since then and the comments on Twitter have been overwhelmingly critical. Conservative columnists and liberal moms have joined together in righteous anger against these thoughtless remarks.

History tells us the larger the Common Core database becomes the more likely it will be target by those who would do children harm. Will Governor Scott and the proponents of Common Core listen to moms and take heed? Time will tell.


Comments on the Psychological and Developmental Aspects of the Florida’s Common Core Standards by Dr. Karen Effrem – Download PDF

Comments on Florida ELA Common Core Standards by Dr. Sandra Stotsky – Download PDF

Comments on FL Math Common Core Standards by Ze’ev Wurman – Download PDF

Miami-Dade civil rights complaint against public school whistle-blower dismissed

Cleveland Roberts, III. For a larger view click on the image.

Those who blow the whistle and interrupt the status quo are either met with respect or hostility from others.  In the case of Cleveland “Cleve” Roberts III, the PBS Coach at Miami Norland Senior High School and Trevor Colestock, Library Media Specialist at Miami Norland SHS and a Watchdog Wire- Florida citizen journalist, the whistle-blowing resulted in a civil rights complaint being filed.

Following Colestock’s article on cheating at Norland, Roberts may have been faced with angry faculty and staff members pertaining to his role, along with Colestock’s, of telling Norland SHS teachers Mr. Gant and Mr. Halligan to come forward to the Auditor General of Florida and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General. On May 11, 2012, Colestock, Gant, and Halligan went to the local Auditor General’s office in Doral and turned over evidence and gave statements about test cheating at Norland’s industrial arts program. Colestock appeared before two special agents of the Miami-Dade OIG on May 15, 2012, and Mr. Gant, and Mr. Halligan before them a few days later, to turn over evidence and give statements. Their efforts resulted in exposing Adobegate and led to the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report issued on August 26, 2013.

After speaking with officials from both agencies, Gant made plans to leave the school (he went to Ronald Reagan Senior High School) and Halligan resigned and retired (he became a full-time minister) because according to Colestock, “they were both afraid of reprisal.” Colestock stayed, managed his library media program, and enforced law and contract as a union steward at Miami Norland SHS until he faced reprisal in the form of “an illegal transfer on October 24, 2013.”

trevor colestock

Trevor Colestock, Media Specialist – Librarian.

Instead of emulating Colestock and exposing the cheating, Roberts may have given in “to fear and terror and proceeded to lie about his role and disparage me [Colestock] in the process via email and at a faculty meeting”, states Colestock. As proof Colestock notes that on September 10, 2013, Roberts sent a letter to all the United Teachers of Dade members at Norland SHS titled “Response to Trevor’s Blog“. Roberts in his letter writes, “Due to the enormous amount of attention that this Testing incident has drawn to the school from the OIG, The Miami Herald, WSVN and Watchdogwire.com;  and because I am mentioned in the online blog I am compelled to make a statement to you.”

Roberts states, “I understand my job as a teacher and UTD Building Steward. I am not an agent for the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of the Auditor General. I do not investigate cases against my colleagues, I do not gather evidence against my co- workers, nor do I recommend that they not receive bonuses that are due to them for their hard work.  I am not a “Watchdog.” That is not my job!! I report incidents!”

Colestock asks, “Does cheating constitute ‘hard work’ and deserve a ‘bonus’? Hear no fraud, see no waste and say nothing about abuses.”

Roberts then went on to directly attack Colestock. Roberts states, “I am deeply disturbed and disheartened to think that a staff member [Colestock] feels that our students are not intelligent enough to pass a test without cheating and that our teachers are not working hard enough in the classroom. Are we not entitled to our monetary bonuses because of an investigation?”

Colestock responded to the Roberts letter as follows:

“As for the allegation of me questioning our students’ intelligence, that is ridiculous. The investigation, and the articles, focus on instances of cheating and its impact on the scores, questioning performance and not intelligence.

We all know, as our students have demonstrated, that when our students study and apply themselves, they are capable of great things-the prime example being our increase in reading comprehension from 17% to 30% over the past two school years.

However, the level of productivity is a great disparity. The increase of passing students from 17 to 452 with scores 175-241 above the national average and completed in 8-22 minutes below the national average, coupled with cheat sheets and student testimony, tells anyone with common sense something is amiss. Moreover, when there are multiple records of unsatisfactory performance and there exists a passing score in 10-20 minutes, that is highly questionable. Put in context with reading levels and various EOC performance, this level of performance is unusual, especially given the presence of cheat sheets and student testimony.

This questions performance, not intelligence. The report and the evidence speaks for itself.”

In his letter, Colestock offered to provide a confirmation email from Roberts confirming his role in advising Gant and Halligan to come forward.

Later that day at the faculty meeting, instead of having a JFK Profiles in Courage moment, which one would expect from the designated building steward who is also an athletic coach and pastor, in which he would have defended his role in exposing test cheating as required by state law and school board policies, he actually apologized for “letting people down,” as the situation “was not handled in-house and made the news,” and offered to resign from being a union steward.

The harassment of Colestock was not finished as another union steward, Mr. Kebony King, crafted a petition seeking Colestock’s ouster as a union steward two days later, which garnered 31 signatures. Apparently some Norland union members, as well as nonunion teachers, took exception to what Colestock did by exposing cheating at Norland SHS, all within Florida state law and Miami-Dade school board policies. The real issue: the teacher’s federal and state financial incentives were in jeopardy due the test cheating at Norland.

On September 19, 2013, Roberts submitted a Civil Rights Compliance complaint against Mr. Colestock claiming that he was “cyber-bullied and cyber-harassed” by Mr. Colestock’s Watchdog Wire- Florida articles. However, on page 15 of the exhibit Roberts contradicts his statement from a month before due to pressure and being exposed. Roberts in his complaint attacks Colestock, Dr. Rich Swier, State Editor of WDW-FL and the Watchdog Wire- Florida website. Roberts checked the “Political Beliefs”, “Retaliation” and “Social and Family Background” boxes on the complaint form. However, Roberts’ attempts to accuse Trevor of politically and racially motivated harassment were squashed when the investigator assigned to review his complaint concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prove those claims. Roberts subsequently withdrew his complaint.

Roberts should know, as a pastor and coach, that telling the truth about cheating is not cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and defamatory in nature.

Unlike Roberts, Colestock gets it as he is fully knowledgeable of Florida contract and law and enforces it accordingly. Colestock understands that union stewards are equal to the principal and that good union stewards ensure that standard operating procedures, as they are equal to management and co-manage the school per the National Labor Relations Act and the Florida Constitution, are compliant with contract and state and federal laws for the well-being of the faculty and staff.

Colestock writes, “To union members in the Miami-Dade school district: As the United Teachers of Dade, by their silence and inaction, backed Mr. Roberts and Mr. King and stood idly by as they and the school district attacked me, an accomplished union steward who exposed test cheating and fraud, over the past two months, do you really expect UTD will protect and represent you in your time of need?   If UTD cannot and will not protect their stewards like me, who can and will they protect?”

Unlike Colestock, Roberts did not suffer adverse actions for his role, although a minor one, in exposing the test cheating at Norland SHS. Roberts complaint against Colestock may have been the basis for the Miami-Dade School District to act against Colestock and move him involuntarily to another school.  Colestock has paid the price for telling the truth. He lost his job, in contravention to state and federal law, for his rightful activities as a concerned citizen, an active and competent union steward and as a citizen journalist.

Colestock was the subject of an attempted transfer on September 16, 2013, which failed, and has been displaced from his job at Norland SHS since October 24, 2013. So exactly who has been harassed – Colestock or Roberts?

Reginald E. Lee, Principal, Miami Norland Senior High School

Colestock still remains displaced from Norland, where he is unable to enforce contract and state laws per his elected position as union steward. The district, as well as Norland SHS Principal, Mr. Reginald  E. Lee, and Roberts, is sending a message to their faculty and community. The adverse actions against Colestock effect those who may be willing to ensure compliance with law and union contract through oversight and quality control measures at Norland. Retaliation is the method to silence those who expose cheating.

“The District created this situation by never addressing the faculty, staff, and students following the release of the Miami-Dade OIG report on August 26, 2013, thereby creating a cone of silence,” states Colestock.

Following his articles on Watchdog Wire – Florida  regarding industry certification exam (Adobe PhotoshopDream Weaver) cheating by teachers as referenced in a Miami-Dade OIG report issued on August 26, 2012, the tepid response by the district administration, and the lack of any response by the Department of Education (all in the context of some quarter million dollars in monetary rewards to staff for the dramatic improvement in test scores), there has been a continuing/ongoing pattern of retaliation against him.

Colestock states, “I have not been critical of students per se, but only of dishonest teachers and dormant administrators, and because students did not share in the distribution of the approximate quarter million dollar award, it seems to be a fair inference that the student response (protests, threats) may likely have been instigated by adults (erstwhile colleagues) who felt criticized or targeted or monetarily threatened by my articles.”

“Because the cash awards for improvement have been distributed, because no colleagues or students have been brought to account, the consequences so far have been visited solely upon me – another involuntary transfer as of October 24, 2013.  The message to students and teachers is that the district is not backing Mr. Colestock and that he is fair game.  The message to the faculty and staff is to avoid emulating Mr. Colestock and what he has done in exposing wrongdoing,” notes Colestock.

The Miami-Dade school district, by their actions, wants teachers to be like Roberts and administrators to be like Principal Lee: keep quiet, look the other way on test cheating and fraud, disparage those who do expose it and go along, get along people. Is that what Miami-Dade public schools have come to?

132 Catholic Professors take “Extraordinary Step” of asking all Bishops to Stop Common Core

One hundred thirty-two Catholic Professors have taken “the extraordinary step” of signing a letter that asks all Catholic Bishops to stand up and firmly oppose Common Core. The letter states, “[W]e are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it, and that those schools which have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now.”

The letter states, “Sadly, over one hundred Catholic dioceses have set aside our teaching tradition in favor of these secular standards. Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to ‘over-educate’ people.”

The letter notes that, “[N]otwithstanding the good intentions of those who made these decisions, Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.”

The below letter was sent to each Catholic bishop in the United States. At the end are the names of the 132 Catholic professors who signed the letter.

Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law
c/o University of Notre Dame, The Law School
3156 Eck Hall of Law, PO Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556

October 16, 2013

Your Excellency:

We are Catholic scholars who have taught for years in America’s colleges and universities. Most of us have done so for decades. A few of us have completed our time in the classroom; we are professors “emeriti.” We have all tried throughout our careers to put our intellectual gifts at the service of Christ and His Church. Most of us are parents, too, who have seen to our children’s education, much of it in Catholic schools. We are all personally and professionally devoted to Catholic education in America.

For these reasons we take this extraordinary step of addressing each of America’s Catholic bishops about the “Common Core” national reform of K-12 schooling. Over one hundred dioceses and archdioceses have decided since 2010 to implement the Common Core. We believe that, notwithstanding the good intentions of those who made these decisions, Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.

In fact, we are convinced that Common Core is so deeply flawed that it should not be adopted by Catholic schools which have yet to approve it, and that those schools which have already endorsed it should seek an orderly withdrawal now.

Why – upon what evidence and reasoning – do we take such a decisive stand against a reform that so many Catholic educators have endorsed, or at least have acquiesced in? In this brief letter we can only summarize our evidence and sketch our reasoning. We stand ready, however, to develop these brief points as you wish. We also invite you to view the video recording of a comprehensive conference critically examining Common Core, held at the University of Notre Dame on September 9, 2013. (For a copy of the video, please contact Professor Gerard Bradley at the address above.)

News reports each day show that a lively national debate about Common Core is upon us. The early rush to adopt Common Core has been displaced by sober second looks,and widespread regrets. Several states have decided to “pause” implementation. Others have opted out of the testing consortia associated with Common Core. Prominent educators and political leaders have declared their opposition. The national momentum behind Common Core has, quite simply, stopped. A wave of reform which recently was thought to be inevitable now isn’t. Parents of K- 12 children are leading today’s resistance to the Common Core. A great number of these parents are Catholics whose children attend Catholic schools.

Much of today’s vigorous debate focuses upon particular standards in English and math. Supporters say that Common Core will “raise academic standards.” But we find persuasive the critiques of educational experts (such as James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of education at the University of Arkansas) who have studied Common Core, and who judge it to be a step backwards. We endorse their judgment that this “reform” is really a radical shift in emphasis, goals, and expectations for K-12 education, with the result that Common Core-educated children will not be prepared to do authentic college work. Even supporters of Common Core admit that it is geared to prepare children only for community-college-level studies.

No doubt many of America’s Catholic children will study in community colleges. Some will not attend college at all. This is not by itself lamentable; it all depends upon the personal vocations of those children, and what they need to learn and do in order to carry out the unique set of good works entrusted to them by Jesus. But none of that means that our Catholic grade schools and high schools should give up on maximizing the intellectual potential of every student. And every student deserves to be prepared for a life of the imagination, of the spirit, and of a deep appreciation for beauty, goodness, truth, and faith.

The judgments of Stotsky and Milgram (among many others) are supported by a host of particulars. These particulars include when algebra is to be taught, whether advanced mathematics coursework should be taught in high school, the misalignment of writing and reading standards, and whether cursive writing is to be taught. We do not write to you, however, to start an argument about particulars. At least, that is a discussion for another occasion and venue. We write to you instead because of what the particular deficiencies of Common Core reveal about the philosophy and the basic aims of the reform. We write to you because we think that this philosophy and these aims will undermine Catholic education, and dramatically diminish our children’s horizons.

Promoters of Common Core say that it is designed to make America’s children “college and career ready.” We instead judge Common Core to be a recipe for standardized workforce preparation. Common Core shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government. Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people. The basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set; after that, people can specialize in college – if they end up there. Truck-drivers do not need to know Huck Finn. Physicians have no use for the humanities. Only those destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses.

Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work. But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclidean geometry, and everyone is capable of it. Everyone bears the responsibility of growing in wisdom and grace and in deliberating with fellow-citizens about how we should all live together. A sound education helps each of us to do so.

The sad facts about Common Core are most visible in its reduction in the study of classic, narrative fiction in favor of “informational texts.” This is a dramatic change. It is contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation. Proponents of Common Core do not disguise their intention to transform “literacy” into a “critical” skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.

Professor Stotsky was the chief architect of the universally-praised Massachusetts English language arts standards, which contributed greatly to that state’s educational success. She describes Common Core as an incubator of “empty skill sets . . . [that] weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” Rather than explore the creativity of man, the great lessons of life, tragedy, love, good and evil, the rich textures of history that underlie great works of fiction, and the tales of self-sacrifice and mercy in the works of the great writers that have shaped our cultural literacy over the centuries, Common Core reduces reading to a servile activity.

Professor Anthony Esolen, now at Providence College, has taught literature and poetry to college students for two decades. He provided testimony to a South Carolina legislative committee on the Common Core, lamenting its “cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form.” He further declared: “We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women.”

Thus far Common Core standards have been published for mathematics and English language arts. Related science standards have been recently released by Achieve, Inc. History standards have also been prepared by another organization. No diocese (for that matter, no state) is bound to implement these standards just by dint of having signed onto Common Core’s English and math standards. We nonetheless believe that the same financial inducements, political pressure, and misguided reforming zeal that rushed those standards towards acceptance will conspire to make acceptance of the history and science standards equally speedy – and unreflective and unfortunate.

These new standards will very likely lower expectations for students, just as the Common Core math and English standards have done. More important, however, is the likelihood that they will promote the prevailing philosophical orthodoxies in those disciplines. In science, the new standards are likely to take for granted, and inculcate students into a materialist metaphysics that is incompatible with, the spiritual realities –soul, conceptual thought, values, free choice, God– which Catholic faith presupposes.

We fear, too, that the history standards will promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today.

Common Core is innocent of America’s Catholic schools’ rich tradition of helping to form children’s hearts and minds. In that tradition, education brings children to the Word of God. It provides students with a sound foundation of knowledge and sharpens their faculties of reason. It nurtures the child’s natural openness to truth and beauty, his moral goodness, and his longing for the infinite and happiness. It equips students to understand the laws of nature and to recognize the face of God in their fellow man.

Education in this tradition forms men and women capable of discerning and pursuing their path in life and who stand ready to defend truth, their church, their families, and their country.

The history of Catholic education is rich in tradition and excellence. It embraces the academic inheritance of St. Anselm, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Blessed John Henry Newman. In contrast to such academic rigor, the Common Core standards lack an empirical evidentiary basis and have not been field-tested anywhere. Sadly, over one hundred Catholic dioceses have set aside our teaching tradition in favor of these secular standards.

America’s bishops have compiled a remarkable record of success directing Catholic education in America, perhaps most notably St. John Neumann and the Plenary
Councils of Baltimore. Parents embrace that tradition and long for adherence to it – indeed, for its renaissance. That longing reflects itself in the growing Catholic homeschool and classical-education movements and, now, in the burgeoning desire among Catholic parents for their dioceses to reject the Common Core.
Because we believe that this moment in history again calls for the intercession of each bishop, we have been made bold to impose upon your time with our judgments of Common Core.

Faithfully in Christ, we are:

Institutional Affiliations Are for Identification Purposes Only

Gerard Bradley
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Princeton University

Anthony M. Esolen
Professor of English
Providence College

Anne Hendershott
Professor of Sociology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Kevin Doak
Georgetown University

Joseph A. Varacalli
S.U.N.Y. Distinguished Service Professor
Nassau Community College-S.U.N.Y.

Patrick McKinley Brennan
John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies
Villanova University School of Law

Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
Professor of Systematic Theology
Detroit, MI

Duncan Stroik
Professor of Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Thomas F. Farr
Director, Religious Freedom Project and
Visiting Associate Professor
Georgetown University

Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D.
Director, Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution
Witherspoon Institute

Ronald J. Rychlak
Butler Snow Lecturer and Professor of Law
University of Mississippi, School of Law

V. Bradley Lewis
Associate Professor of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America

Patrick J. Deneen
David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

E. Christian Brugger, D.Phil.
J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Professor of Moral Theology
Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver

Kenneth L. Grasso
Professor of Political Science
Texas State University

James Hitchcock
Professor of History
Saint Louis University
Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D.
Director of Economics Programs and Academic Chair
The Catholic University of America

Fr. Joseph Koterski SJ
President, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
Fordham University

Francis J. Beckwith
Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies
Baylor University

Thomas V. Svogun
Professor of Philosophy and Administration
of Justice and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy
Salve Regina University

Scott W Hahn
Professor of Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Eduardo J. Echeverria, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Ryan J. Barilleaux, Ph.D.
Paul Rejai Professor of Political Science
Miami University (Ohio)

Brian Simboli, Ph.D.
Science Librarian
Lehigh University

John A. Gueguen
Emeritus Professor, Political Philosophy
Illinois State University

G. Alexander Ross
Institute for the Psychological Sciences

Suzanne Carpenter, Ph.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing

Patrick Lee
McAleer Professor of Bioethics
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Peter J. Colosi, PhD
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

Dr. Robert Hunt
Professor of Political Science
Kean University

Matthew Cuddeback, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Providence College

Dr. Joseph H. Hagan
President Emeritus
Assumption College

John A. Cuddeback, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Christendom College

Dr. Michael J. Healy
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Thomas Hibbs
Dean of the Honors College
Baylor University

Susan Orr Traffas
Co-Director, Honors Program
Benedictine College

Michael J. Behe
Professor of Biological Sciences
Lehigh University

Thomas R. Rourke
Professor of Politics
Clarion University

Robert H Holden
Professor, Dept. of History
Old Dominion University

Philip J. Harold
Associate Dean, School of Education and
Social Sciences
Robert Morris University

David T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Dept. of Modern & Classical Languages
Saint Louis University

W. H. Marshner
Professor of Theology
Christendom College

David W. Fagerberg
Associate Professor, Theology
University of Notre Dame

Melissa Moschella
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Catholic University of America

Daniel J. Costello, Jr.
Bettex Professor of Electrical Engineering,
University of Notre Dame

Brian Scarnecchia,
Associate Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law

Thomas Behr
Assistant Professor of Comparative Cultural
University of Houston

Bernard Dobranski
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law

Daniel Philpott
Professor, Political Science and Peace Studies
University of Notre Dame

Anne Barbeau Gardiner
Professor emerita, Dept of English
John Jay College, CUNY

C.C. Pecknold
Assistant Professor of Theology
The Catholic University of America

Anthony Low
Professor Emeritus of English
New York University

Heather Voccola
Adjunct Professor of Church History
Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Raymond F. Hain, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Providence College

Catherine Abbott
Professor of Mathematics
Keuka College

Thérèse Bonin
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Duquesne University

Dr. Francis P. Kessler
Prof. Political Science
Benedictine College

Christopher Wolfe
Co-Director, Thomas International Center
Emeritus Professor, Marquette University

Carson Holloway
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Stephen M. Krason, J.D., Ph.D.
Society of Catholic Social Scientists

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis
Associate Professional Specialist and
Concurrent Associate Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C.,
Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

Stephen M. Barr
Professor of Physics
University of Delaware

D.C. Schindler
Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology
The John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

Jeanne Heffernan Schindler
Senior Research Fellow
Center for Cultural and Pastoral Concerns

David L. Schindler
Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology
Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Catholic University of America

Rev. Edward Krause, C.C.C.
Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus
Gannon University

Christopher O. Tollefsen
Professor of Philosophy
University of South Carolina

Paige E. Hochschild
Assistant Professor of Theology
Mount St. Mary’s University

Robert C. Jeffrey
Professor of Government
Wofford College

Rev. Anthony E. Giampietro, CSB
Executive Vice President and Academic Dean
Saint Patrick’s Seminary & University

Dr. Roger Loucks
Associate Prof. of Physics
Alfred University

J. Daniel Hammond
Professor of Economics
Wake Forest University

Kenneth R. Hoffmann, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurosurgery
SUNY at Buffalo

Timothy T. O’Donnell, STD, KGCHS
President Christendom College

Thomas W. Jodziewicz
Department of History
University of Dallas

Sr J. Sheila Galligan IHM
Professor of Theology
Immaculata University

Maura Hearden
Assistant Professor of Theology
DeSales University

Robert Gorman
University Distinguished Professor of
Political Science
Texas State University

Steven Justice
Professor of English
University of California, Berkeley and University of Mississippi

Carol Nevin (Sue) Abromaitis
Professor of English
Loyola University Maryland

Dr. Sean Innerst
Theology Cycle Director,
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Robert A. Destro
Professor of Law & Director
The Catholic University of America

Richard Sherlock
Prof. of Philosophy
Utah State University

Adrian J. Reimers
Adjunct Assistant Professor in Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Jessica M. Murdoch
Assistant Professor of Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology
Villanova University

Mary Shivanandan, S.T.L., S.T.D.
Professor of Theology Retired
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at
The Catholic University of America

Alice M. Ramos
Professor of Philosophy
St. John’s University

Dennis J. Marshall, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology
Aquinas College

Dennis D. Martin
Associate Professor of Theology
Loyola University Chicago

Janet E. Smith
Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics
Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Leonard J. Nelson,III
Retired Professor of Law
Samford University

Charles D. Presberg, PhD
Associate Professor of Spanish
University of Missouri-Columbia

Brian T. Kelly
Thomas Aquinas College

Michael F. McLean
Thomas Aquinas College

Philip T. Crotty
Professor of Management (Emeritus)
Northeastern University

James Matthew Wilson
Assistant Professor of Literature
Villanova University

R. E. Houser
Bishop Wendelin J. Nold Chair in Graduate Philosophy
University of St. Thomas (TX)

Gary D. Glenn
Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University

Cynthia Toolin, Ph.D.
Professor of Dogmatic and Moral Theology
Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Virginia L. Arbery, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of Humanities
Wyoming Catholic College

Maryanne M. Linkes, Esquire
Adjunct Professor
University of Pittsburgh & Community
College of Allegheny County

James Likoudis, M.S.Ed.
Education writer
Montour Falls, NY 14865

Dr. Emil Berendt
Assistant Professor of Economics
Mount St. Mary’s University

David F. Forte
Professor of Law
Cleveland State University

Anthony W. Zumpetta, Ed.D.
Professor Emeritus
West Chester University (PA)

Thomas D. Watts
Professor Emeritus
University of Texas, Arlington

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics
Ave Maria University

Craig S. Lent
Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering
University of Notre Dame

Christina Jeffrey, Ph.D.
Lecturer on the Foundations of American Government
Wofford College

Robert G Kennedy
Professor of Catholic Studies
University of St Thomas (MN)

Holly Taylor Coolman
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Theology
Providence College

Raymond F. Hain, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Providence College

David Whalen
Hillsdale College

David M. Wagner
Professor of Law
Regent University School of Law

John G. Trapani, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Walsh University

Tina Holland, Ph.D.
South Bend, Indiana

James F. Papillo, J.D., Ph.D
Former Vice President of Administrative
Affairs and Associate Professor in the Humanities
Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Dr. J. Marianne Siegmund
Theo. Department and SCSS member
University of Dallas

Dr. Daniel Hauser
Professor of Theology
University of St. Francis

Joshua Hochschild
Mount St. Mary’s University

William Edmund Fahey, Ph.D.
Fellow and President
The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

John C. McCarthy
Dean, School of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America

Christopher O. Blum
Academic Dean
Augustine Institute

Chiyuma Elliott
Assistant Professor of English and African-American Studies
University of Mississippi

Mark C. Henrie
Senior V.P., Chief Academic Officer
Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Jeffrey Tranzillo, Ph.D.
Professor, Systematic Theology

Craig Steven Titus, S.Th.D/Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director of Integrative Studies
Institute of the Psychological Sciences

Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Executive Director
Catholic Education Foundation

William W. Kirk
Vice President for Student Affairs and General Counsel
Ave Maria University

Curt H. Stiles, Ph.D.
Professor of Business Policy
Cameron School of Business
University of North Carolina

Crosspointe: Another failed government computer system

In 2006 the Sarasota County School Board entered into a long term agreement with CrossPointe.net (a.k.a. CrossPointe, Inc., CrossPointe LLC) for a comprehensive hardware and software upgrade of the District’s information technology (IT) capabilities. The contract for $12 million was initiated under the leadership of former Superintendent Gary Norris and Sarasota County IT Director Bob Hanson, both of whom were being investigated by the FBI for the purchase of white whiteboards from Promethean. The CrossPointe contract has continued under Superintendent Lori White who at that time was Director of Curriculum and Instruction under Norris.

So what is wrong with upgrading the district’s IT capabilities? Nothing except that a simple Google search of the company CrossPointe and its owner Joan Marie Keebler would have turned up a series of lawsuits dating back to 2001.

These lawsuits included filings for copyright infringement and ownership dispute of CrossPointe, Inc., now known as CrossPointe.net. Due diligence would have warned School Board members and District staff about entering into a contract where the software being purchased may have been “vaporware”. There are indications that the contract in which the School Board entered was to develop the software rather than purchase it because you see the software did not exist at the time.

So the School Board purchased software from a company being sued for software copy write infringement. It appears the now defunct CrossPointe.net actually had no software to sell in the first place. So what did Sarasota property taxpayers get for the $12 million contract with CrossPointe.net?

According to a district spokesman Scott Ferguson, “The implementation of Education Solutions Development/ESD (formerly CrossPointe) is in progress.  We are currently working on our Student Information System implementation and are in the final phase of testing this module.  In November, we will be going live with four of our district schools – Tuttle, Brookside, Pineview and North Port.  During this time, we will be working closely with these schools and fine-tuning the application prior to the full district-wide implementation planned for Spring 2014.” Leona Collesano is the project manager assigned to the implementation of ESD.

The district reports the following are fully operational: Gradebook, Parent Portal, Finance, Human Resources, Payroll and Employee Portal. The Student Information System is not fully operational but is planned to become operational this school year – seven years after the initial purchase. The district states, “Fees were negotiated before the project began. The cost to date is $10,013,008.” Total cost to date is over $20 million.

One Sarasota school principal got staff feedback on the ESD system (a.k.a. Crosspointe). He stated, “We have been experiencing problems with Crosspointe for a long time.  It is a district problem. What I’m hearing is: Cumbersome to use. Lacks capacity. Shuts down often. Difficult for parents to use. Often inaccurate.”

Another parent in an email wrote, “About two weeks ago, personnel installed new features to Crosspointe’s gradebook. Parents can now receive weekly reports of their child’s weekly grades and attendance. I am receiving two emails of the same report for my son at Pine View. My daughter is at RHS and is not happening there. Whoever is in charge of the software is NOT thoroughly testing it before it is released to the general public. I have brought this to the attention of the School Board and the Landings administration.”

“Last year, my son’s report card (Pine View) printed the wrong grade. Crosspointe Grade book showed one grade and his report card printed another grade. Then the rounding did not work correctly. I discovered parents at Pine View whose children complained about their children’s grades not being correct and the parents did not know what to do about it. They were so appreciative of me informing them of the problems,” notes the parent.

The district representative points out, “As with any implementation of a system of this magnitude there have been issues along the way, but nothing that has not been addressed and either rectified or in the process of being rectified.  Some issues have involved temporary interfaces put in place to synchronize grades and attendance with our antiquated Student Information System but all were remedied. These interfaces will be eliminated once full implementation is complete. With the Payroll function, staff continue to be paid on time, grades continue to be posted using the Gradebook function, etc.”

On October 2, 2013 Scott Lempe, Sarasota School District Chief Operating Officer, in email Update #4 on the implementation of Crosspointe states, “The Way Forward.  Rather than trying to implement a new SIS District – wide we’ve identified four schools that have agreed to act as our pilot schools.  They are: Tuttle, Brookside, North Port High, and Pine View.  We are referring to them as the Fab‐Four!  As of today we plan to go live at those schools in mid ‐November.  We will use these pilot schools to test the system in a live environment, shake down the system, work out any bugs, and prepare the SIS for full District‐wide implementation.  Given this timeline we’d then look to go‐live with the rest of our schools in late winter or early spring.  In the mean time we will be developing things like refresher trainings and comprehensive data verification plans.”

A parent writes in an update, “Last week I received an email from Leona Campos/Collesano saying that the problem was fixed. This particular problem (one of many) was the duplicate email reports. Well they sure fixed it. Now I don’t get no reports for my daughter at Riverview High School and only one report (grades for the week) for my son at Pine View.  I should be receiving two reports (emails) per child, attendance and weekly grades. My next email will be to the School Board members, the Superintendent and Scott Lempe explaining this issue again. Whoever fixed it is very, very, very careless.  They throw in a fix, but don’t test it to make sure that it works.  Sometimes when fixes are made to software, it can affect other conditions in the code. This is an indicator that someone does not know how to do their work.  Sloppy.  Scary to say the least.”

This government website is seven years old and still does not work. Maybe the School Board should realize this website is looking more like HeathCare.gov on steriods.

Florida 2nd Grader terrified after watching BrainPop video on global warming

WDW – FL received an email from a concerned parent. The email states, “My son attends a private school in Stuart, Florida. This school teaches Common Core Standards ‘Plus other things above common core standards’. My son is in 2nd grade. My son has been coming home worried sick about something that was reported in a classroom news format on TV at school for 2 days. It has been the first thing he has said for 2 days now when I pick him up after school. He was so worried he was bringing it up hourly. He kept on telling me throughout the evenings and I had been so busy I was not to been able to address his concern.”

“A big flood is supposed to happen in 2030. I had never heard anything about it … so I went online to find out about it. It is attributed to rising sea levels, which of course must come from melting icebergs due to global warming aka climate change. When I finally addressed his concerns later, he said the program reporting was BrainPOP on the Smart TV they have there at school,” states the parent.

The mother concludes with, “Meanwhile, my son is not able to fall asleep for the past 2 nights for worrying over this 2030 flood. It wasn’t until he went on for a hour as I multi-tasked that I realized what had occurred.  After I explained my thoughts on it, he was able to finally fall asleep. But he is only 8 years old and shouldn’t even have to be burdened with this!! He woke up this morning and was still going on for a half an hour about it … and then again just before I dropped him off to school. After he shut the car door he came back and said he wanted to make sure that I was going to tell his daddy about it to make sure that I tell his daddy we need to move NOW because we live right on the beach!”

According to Scott Ferguson, Communications Specialist for Sarasota County Schools, “We have a district license to use BrainPop. It is available as a supplemental tool for teachers to quiz students if the material fits the teachers’ content areas. We don’t keep track of which teachers use it in which schools, and which ones don’t use it. No state approval is required for the use of BrainPop. It is approved at the district level by virtue of our having a district license and making this tool available to teachers.”

Here is a link to one of the BrainPOP videos titled “Global Warming“.

According to the BrainPOP website, “Founded in 1999, BrainPOP® creates animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. Our award-winning online educational resources include BrainPOP Jr.®(K-3), BrainPOP, BrainPOP Español™ , and, for English language learners, BrainPOP ESL™. BrainPOP is also home to GameUp®, a free educational games portal for the classroom.”

NOTE: Professor Phil Jones  from the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia and lead author on the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 assessment report, has stated global warming ended in 1995.

“Our content is mapped to the Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and searchable with our online Standards Tool“, states BrainPOP. Federal funds, public school districts, private schools and parents in Florida help fund BrainPOP via grants and other funding.

The Environmental lesson is focused on global warming, the use of fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions and population control. It refers to former Vice-President Al Gore. The quiz for the Environmental lesson reinforces the now disproven theory that global warming is caused by human activities.

As part of the Environmental course is population growth. The BrainPOP lesson titled “Population Growth” states:

Six billion, seven billion…ten billion? That’s right, Earth’s population could reach close to 10 billion by the end of the century. Can the planet really support that many people? In this BrainPOP movie, Tim and Moby look into how human populations put pressure on the environment, and what we can do to minimize our impact. Tim teaches you the history of population growth, too, explaining why it began to explode several hundred years ago. And you’ll get the scoop on how technologies like medicine and sanitation got us to this point!

Watch the Science movie about Population Growth »

What is population growth?

What is the difference between carrying capacity and population density?

Why did the agricultural revolution increase the population?

Scientists now dispute what is being presented as science in BrainPOP.

John Casey, the founder and CEO of the Orlando, Florida headquartered Space and Science Research Corporation stated in April and May of 2007:

1. Global warming was about to end, within three years!

2. The Sun was going to begin a “solar hibernation” beginning with the next solar cycle #24 (which began in 2008). This hibernation would result in a record reduction in the energy output of the Sun.

3. The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans were about to begin a long term drop in temperatures lasting for decades.

4. A new cold climate era was beginning that posed a serious threat to all with the potential to bring global crop damage and loss of life through starvation, cold weather fatalities, and social upheaval on a historic scale.

He proposed that a new climate theory which he called the “Relational Cycle Theory” or simply the “RC Theory” should replace the greenhouse gas theory of man-made climate change and asserted that the Sun and not mankind was the primary cause of climate change.

Perhaps BrainPOP did not get the memo that global warming has ended and a historical cycle of global cooling is here?

This young student need not worry about his home being flooded. However, his and other parents need to worry more about what is being told to their children about science via BrainPOP.

Mother of two in Miami-Dade schools tells the truth about Common Core

There is growing concern that the Florida Department of Education and Board of Education are turning a deaf ear when it comes to critics of Common Core State Standards. The interim Commissioner of Education was forced by Governor Scott to hold hearings on Common Core. Many have pointed out that opponents who are parents, teachers and concerned citizens are each only given three minutes to speak.

Suzette Lopez, the mother of two children in the Miami-Dade public schools, attended one of the meetings to speak about her concerns. According to  Mrs. Lopez, “I gave a portion of the speech last night at the Florida Hearing.  Due to time constraints, i had to delete the entire timeline portion, but I think its important to call this out.”

She could not in three minutes mandated by Commissioner Stewart, present her thoughts. WDW – FL received her remarks and they are provided here, with permission, so that her voice may be heard. The following is the full text of her prepared remarks:

October 15, 2013

I’m a parent of 2 children in Miami Dade Public school system. One of my kids is a special needs gifted child … out of necessity, I have learned how to aggressively advocate for his rights and have taken a very serious role in understanding our educational system.

I have been an active member of my schools PTA, have served on the board, and I can honestly tell you, it was not till Jan of this year that Common Core came onto my radar.  I wanted to learn more about Common Core and began researching, vigorously. I spent months just researching because I felt that I needed to do my due diligence and understand all before I formed my opinion.

I am extreme scared of what is coming for my child and for all children that don’t fit the mold.  I am saddened when my child tells me that math is his favorite subject… But it feels like it is the longest hour of the school day.  He tells me that convoluted word math problems make him second guess himself when he knows the real hard cold facts. It bothers me that my child brings home F’s on tests when he get all the answers right because he was able to do all the problems in his head but he is forced to write out his work and won’t do so because he feels it’s a waste of his time.

If my child would have entered school today, he would have been lost in the system.  B/W Data would have told his teachers that he won’t amount to much.  Tests would have held him back.  He would have been pigeonholed in kindergarten.  I thank God every day for his remarkable teachers that did not follow data.  They went by their guts/intuition/experience. They wanted him succeed and gave him the time and room to succeed at his pace. Today my child is in a gifted mainstream inclusion classroom, thanks to those amazing teachers.

As a college educated parent, I find it hard some days to help my children with their homework. I do believe this will create a greater divide between those with means and those without.  Those with means will pay a tutor to step in and help… image the frustration of those parents that are not college educated and don’t have the means.

In researching Common Core, I was also focused on gifted education since both by boys are in a gifted program.  The National Association for gifted children stated on their website “The standards do not define the nature of advanced work for students who meet the standards prior to the end of high school.  Although CCSS are considered to be more rigorous than most current state standards, they fall short in meeting the specific needs of gifted learners, and if held strictly to the standard, could actually limit learning.”

These hearings are based on the premise that if you fix the standards, you fix the problems with Common Core.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  The problem with Common Core is complex.  The standards are just one component. You see, its not just about standards, its about what missing from the standards, its about how its being interpreted and implemented.  It’s about the highly intrusive data collection that is connected. It’s about strings attached by the Federal government that are holding our states accountable. It’s about high stakes testing that are pulling more and more funding away from already cash strapped schools and pulling away from much needed instructional classroom time.  Not to mention the emotional and psychological implications of developmentally inappropriate standards.

As part of my research, I decided to study the validation committee.  I was intrigued by that committee.  In my search, there were obviously 5 people that did not sign off on the standards.  I also came across 2 people that actually did sign off on the standards that were now not all that happy with how they are being implemented.

P. David Pearson was the first one I came across.  He was concerned with the lack of learning progressions between grade levels, Omission of creativity, motivation and social facets to learning. In 2012 David Coleman and Susan Pimentel developed the ” Revised Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy,GradesK–2″… Pearson was not all that happy about the new shift in the implementation of the standards. He hopes that we “stay closer to the standards then to the interpretation of the standards.”  He was not happy that informational documents were more about cold read and for understanding eng for eng language sake, verses bringing to the table background information that helps bring further context to a document that is read.   The other person was Arthur N. Applebee.  His concerns were 1) the separate emphasis on foundational skills, 2) the grade-by-grade standards, 3) the lack of a developmental model for writing and 4) issues with implementation.

We don’t even have a clear picture of how CC will affect our children since students in grade 3 and up are looking at a blended model of standards this year.  We are implementing standards and realigning curriculum mid stream during their most critical years.  You are asking older children to completely rethink the way they have learned.

Assessments are tied to teacher pay, school funding, and student progression. Since Common Core is more about the process of learning verses the content, that begs the question… are we holding our teachers accountable for how the kids learn verses what they are learning?

This is not like when we got FCAT, this is a fundamental shift in our educational system, in how our teachers are teaching, how parents help their children.  I am not opposed to change… but I do when there is a fundamental shift that is profoundly affecting so many kids lives…  and when the process from which we got the standards are so profoundly questionable.

I was listening to the hearing last night I keep on hearing how the Common Core was not a requirement for Race to the Top funds. So I think it’s time for a quick recap of how Florida got these standards… and how they are clearly intertwined.

July 24, 2009 – RTTT Announced

Nov 18, 2009 – RTTT Rules and Regs – Race to the Top Fund Document

The statement reads..  Several commenters recommend that the Department clarify in the final notice whether the reference to common standards refers specifically to the common core standards currently being developed jointly by members of the national Governors Association and the Council of School Officers.

Dec 9, 2009  Florida submits The RTTT Memorandum of Understanding.

In this document they refer to Common Core as the “common core of rigorous standards”.  They also refer to them as the “new common core standards”.

In 2008 Benchmarking for Success Doc.  They clearly define the new standards.  It states,  “To upgrade state standards, leaders will be able to leverage the Common State Standards Initiative, an upcoming project of NGA, CCSSO and Achieve…”

The only standards option out there that was “Common” and was touting itself as rigorous and career and college ready for all states was the Common Core Standards.  So its clear to me that Race to the Top was ALWAYS clearly tied to Common Core State Standards.  It was an issue of semantics.

January 19, 2010 – Florida submits its Florida Race to the Top Application for Initial funding.  The doc reads “Currently, Florida is taking a lead in developing the Common Core State Standards and Common Core assessments.” Remember, the draft of the standards have not yet been released!!! We willfully accepted these standards without ever really seeing them!!!

March 2010 – The draft K-12 standards were released for public comment.  Florida is among 16 states named as a finalist.

March 16, 2010 – Race to the Top, Florida Technical review document,  clearly state “description of a plan for Florida’s adoption of Common Core standards consistent with the RTTT required time frame and the state’s legal process has been provided in Florida law.

April 2010 –  Phase 1 winners announced.  (Florida came in 4th and did not receive any funds)

April 21, 2010 –Florida already had already decided by this time that they were going to implement these standards… and that they wanted that money.  To help our chances in round 2,   Governor Crist calls a meeting to appoint the group to work on the Memorandum of Understanding for RTTT application.

Remember, this curriculum has NEVER been implemented and nobody knows if it will work!!  All this and yet the final draft had not yet been released.

June 2010 – Final draft of CC released

July 27, 2010 – Florida State board of Education approved the adoption of CCSS for Eng and Math

I guess they were ensuring our chances of winning the phase 2 of RTTT.

September 28, 2010 – Florida received a grant award in the amount of ~ 170 million dollars ($169, 990, 272) for the Race to the Top Assessment Program

Aug 24, 2010 – Phase 2 winners announced, Florida wins $700 million RRRT award with $140 million dedicated to implementation of CCSS and support tools.   There was only a 11.6 point spread between us and the last place winner.

By accepting CC standards you were awarded 20 points.  Accepting CC aligned testing awarded you another 20 points.  It’s clear that without any of these, Florida would NOT have won those funds.

We adopted Common Core before we truly understood the cost implications!  That is called an unfunded mandate!

Clearly, states were coerced into accepting CC as the new state standards before they ever vetted them, understood their cost implications or even really understanding the implications of the standards themselves on ALL learners!!!  It’s clear from all RTTT documentation that RTTT is clearly tied to Common Core Standards.  Our hands were being tied left and right.  Cash strapped districts/states found themselves in a situation where they found it was a must to accept these federally funded standards in order to get the much needed funding. We were willing to risk the future of our children, loss of control of our educational system, all in the name of funding.

To help the process along and to guarantee stated oblige, conditions were placed.  On Feb 2010, Obama stated “as a condition of receiving access to Title 1 funds, we will ask the states to put in place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college and career ready.” Conditional waivers from NCLB were also granted. Unless we push back on this federal intrusion of our supposedly state led effort, we will see a decline in our ability to make the necessary changes for the future of Florida’s children.

In all of this, we have lost the child. Our classrooms are being micromanaged.  All children want a chance to succeed.  If you create a love of learning, you create life-long learners.  You promote individualism, you build self esteem.  You create great leaders, entrepreneurs. You stifle a child, a school, a teacher by over testing and by teaching to the test.


If kids do well on this test, will they will succeed?

Are teachers doing their job if a child does well on this test?

The answer is… not necessarily.

THE ANSWER SHOULD HAVE BEEN A RESOUNDING YES if all these educational reforms were truly proven to be valid.  They are not.

Higher standards are a must.  But I truly question if Common Core and its related testing is the answer. It does not bode well when the AP testing group admits that they will be lowering their standards, not including calculus in their testing, because under the Common Core track, students are not expected to reach this important benchmark.  The math experts tell us that, by the end of high schools, our children will be 2 years behind current standards. By treating all our children as common, at grade level, we have minimized the importance of truly educating and empowering our kids.  The individual child is losing his voice to rise above or to rise to the challenge.

We are blindly accepting these untested standards and assessments under the guise that they are rigorous and will produce career and college ready students.  None of which has been proven to be true.

So…. what is the true return on investment?  From all indications, this progressive education reform has little to do with our children and the true education that they will receive, and everything to do with the privatization of the educational system and growth of business using student data to build up their portfolios. The return on investment is that education is the new hot topic and there is a lot of money to be made.

Any good, honest and ethical business would have taken the time to truly understand the ramifications of such a large investment on the people they most affect.  I would venture to say that the exorbitant costs and loss of critical teaching time associated with Common Core and any related assessment would be better served in the classroom, impacting kids lives directly… and building a love of learning.

Problem is, my children’s education should never have been viewed as a business opportunity.  Doing what is right for each and every child should ALWAYS take precedence over any financial gains.

Suzette Lopez

Did the Florida Commissioner of Education lie about the cost to implement Common Core?

A question was posed to Pam Stewart, interim Florida Education Commissioner, during public hearings on Common Core State Standards at a public meeting in Tampa, FL.

The question posed by a parent was: Has any cost analysis been done on Common Core – what will it cost taxpayers?

Commissioner Stewart answered “It will cost nothing.”

Brenda Pastorick, who attended the Tampa, FL meeting, states, “Of course, there was loud applause. Now, is she that naive? Or, if she lied about this to the general public, what other lies are being told by the Florida Department of Education with regards to Common Core. We certainly don’t want liars dictating policy over the education of our children here in Florida, do we?”

The Florida Coalition to Stop Common Core issued a report on implementation in the sunshine state. Chapter 6 is on “The Cost to Implement Common Core Standards.” According to the report:

Based on data from several sources, the Common Core standards and accompanying tests will be very expensive – both to implement and to maintain.

Florida is projected by the Pioneer Institute to spend $1,024,163,000 to pay for testing, technology, textbooks, and professional development in what they characterize as a “middle of the road” estimate compared to $905,838,000 in grants received, leaving at least $118,325,000 in costs to Florida taxpayers just for implementation.

Given that former Commissioner Bennett and the State Board of Education (SBOE) originally asked for $442 million in one year to implement assessments, which is more than what Florida has already spent on the FCAT between 1996 and 2008 combined, that $118 million amount might well be low and will serve as a huge unfunded mandate to already strapped county districts. Marion County has had to lay off 160 teachers, and Charlotte County was forced to discontinue physical education classes until parental outrage and funding shifts reversed that decision as costs for Common Core implementation continue to mount.

Even more concerning is that Bennett changed his education budget request to $100 million in the middle of the legislative session. This constitutes a $342 million swing, indicates enormous credibility problems, and appears to be an effort to hide the true costs of this capaciously expensive system. In addition, the commissioner later said that Florida may consider some other completely different testing scheme at an unknown cost, even though Florida is the fiscal agent for PARCC.

Read the full report here.

According to Pastorick, “Just to let you know the hearing on Common Core last night in Tampa was well attended, but with only one member of the FL Board of Education, John Cologne, present. He left early and did not even hear me and I was #26 speaker. Hillsborough County had an unending number of teachers, etc. praising the results they are having in their classrooms using Common Core – one even broke up in tears because her daughter who has always had trouble reading is now reading and excelling under Common Core.  It was evident that the words of the two experts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English) and Ze’ve Wurman (Math) probably fell on deaf ears with the advocates of CC – credentials attached – each was allowed 15 minutes at the beginning of the hearing.”

There have been concerns that advocates would be given more time to speak than opponents.

Chrissy Blevio from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FLCC) wrote in an email, “Dear FLCC Fighters, Please do your best to get to the remaining two hearings. Our opinion, after sitting in on the FDOE meetings in Tampa and the public hearing, is that the FDOE has no intentions to consider dropping Common Core but only to change the name or ‘rebrand.’ It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ routine.”

Florida parents cannot “opt out” of Common Core data mining

Florida Governor Rick Scott has voiced concern about the student data mining component of Common Core State Standards. When asked if he supported the data mining aspect of Common Core, Scott answered “no” to the question. Public hearings were held this week across Florida to hear the concerns with Common Core by teachers, parents and concerned citizens.

According to Diane Kepus, The National Education Data Model (NEDM), available online, lists hundreds of data points considered indispensable to the nationalized student tracking racket. These include:

  • “Bus Stop Arrival Time” and “Bus Stop Description”
  • “Dwelling arrangement”
  • “Diseases, Illnesses and Other Health Conditions”
  • “Religious Affiliation”
  • “Telephone Number Type” and “Telephone Status”

It now appears that Florida is one of the states that, according to the Florida Department of Education, parents cannot “opt out” of providing private information to the companies running the data mining system. A parent provided the below letter reply to the possibility to “opt out” for their child.


For a larger view click on the image.

The What is Common Core blog states, “So, [Andre Smith] the ‘Bureau Chief’ of the PK20 Florida Data Warehouse informed the Florida parent that he was ‘unable to identify opt out provisions to PK2O Education Data Warehouse.’ That’s right: unable to identify an opt out provision. Parents like me are unable to identify any constitutional provision whereby parents might be ethically overridden so that a federal-state partnership could then track personally identifiable information about our children without our parental consent in a federally promoted and funded State Longitudinal Database System!”

According to the Florida Department of Education PK20 Florida Data Warehouse website, “The mission of the Florida K-20 Education Data Warehouse (EDW) is to provide stakeholders in public education-including, but not limited to, administrators, educators, parents, students, state leadership, and professional organizations-with the capability of receiving timely, efficient, consistent responses to inquiries into Florida’s Kindergarten through University education.”

The Chairman of the US House Education Committee Representative John Kline in letter dated February 2010 to Arne Duncan stated his concerns and dismay that grant awards were to be based “in part on the willingness of the states to expand their statewide longitudinal data systems that would include a broad swath of student information”. Kline quotes Duncan as stating data collection was part of the “cradle to career agenda”.

The following outlines the Common Core data requirements and uses:

Click on image for a larger view.

Florida Mosque etiquette for snowbirds (please read carefully)

As the winter approaches many who live in the Northeast come to Florida to enjoy its warm weather, beautiful beaches and attractions. However, not all are accustomed to Florida’s casual lifestyle, great traditions and of course the proper way to conduct oneself when entering a Mosque in the sunshine state.

Islamic Center of South Florida Rules and Regulations. For a larger view click on the image.

For those who are unfamiliar with “Mosque etiquette” the Islamic Center of South Florida provides, as a courtesy, a list of dos and don’ts. Among them are:

2. When leaving your home, work or business, Go Toward the Mosque with Eagerness and Enthusiasm for you would be meeting fellow believers who have come to worship Allah.

4. Brothers Should Wear Proper Attire Before Entering the Masjid. No pictures on T-shirts that can distract the people in prayer. No shorts above the knees are allowed for man. The top part of the body should also be covered. Their clothes should show modesty and hayaa [shame, shyness].

5. Sisters Should Wear Hijaab At All Time, cover their body with loose clothes: no tight dresses or pants are allowed. Their clothes should show modesty and hayaa. The long skirts are permissible if they are long enough to cover down to the ankles and they are not too tight, not to show the shape of the body.

7. Make Sure your Feet and you Socks Smell Clean

8. Never Walk Outside the Masjid Bare Foot Especially if you are Going to the Bathroom or Wudu Area (Avoid Briniging [sic] Germs to The Masjid)

11. It is totally Forbidden for the one who is in the state of janabat [a ritual impurity caused by the discharge of semen or by sexual intercourse] to enter the mosque. Only after having performed the required ghusl(major ablution) can such a person enter the mosque

12. It is Totally Forbidden for a Muslim woman who is in the state of Hayd (Menstruation) to enter the mosque. (For detailed rules on these please refer to books on Islamic Laws) [Islamic law is contained in the book Reliance of the Traveller]

For anyone entering a church or synagogue these rules do not apply, with the exception of perhaps of number 2, when going toward a church or synagogue.

WDW – FL provides the below video commentary, courtesy of The United West, on Mosque etiquette:

An open letter to Governor Scott on Common Core

Parents, teachers and concerned citizens sent an “Open Letter” to Governor Rick Scott by Chris Quackenbush, Co-founder StopCommonCoreFL.com, on the eve of hearings being held in three locations in the state on the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Florida. The open letter is provided in its entirety below.


Open letter to Governor Scott

Subject:  Common Core Hearings Oct 15, 16 and 17

Dear Governor Scott,

October 15th, private citizens are bringing two of the best experts on education standards to testify on Florida’s adoption of the Common Core Standards also known at the New Sunshine State Standards.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman are generously providing their time to help us prevent these flawed standards from being implemented in Florida.

We have previously offered you a private meeting with these experts who wrote standards for Massachusetts, now #1, and California which is close behind.  You have not responded.  Instead, you have offered only 3 “hearings” in the entire state where parents, teachers, stake holders, or experts must drive or fly for hours and are allowed just 3 minutes to comment only on the standards themselves.

There are only 3 hours offered and your appointed State Board of Education are only accepting 60 requests to speak.  This means, with the maximum total of 3 minute, only 180 citizens in the entire state will be able to testify.  Your Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart, was quoted saying she does not expect any changes resulting from our testimony.  Written testimony will also be accepted and likely ignored as well.

I must ask, Governor Scott, why is there so much energy expended to quell the experts, parents and teachers who are opposed to Common Core?  Why are we paying huge tax dollars to switch to a new set of national standards, Common Core, when Dr Stotsky, the author of the Massachusetts Miracle, has offered her standards used to achieve #1 in the nation for free?  To add to the mystery, why would we give up our control over Florida’s education by adopting these copyrighted national standards?

It is only reasonable that you at least listen to the experts on a matter of such great importance.  Not only does education spending comprise 25% of our state budget, but our children need our best efforts to insure they have education choices that work for them, as individuals.

Common Core Standards eliminate choice.  If all schools are tested and measured by Common Core Standards, and those standards are copyrighted and controlled by Washington DC groups, how can charter schools, religious schools, home schools and others escape?  They must teach to the test in order for their students to advance into the goal, Community College.  I say community college is the goal because Common Core Standards do not provide for curriculum required to enter institutions of higher education such as Georgia Tech or Stanford.

By moving Algebra 1 to 9th grade, students will not be able to reach calculus or trigonometry.  The experimental geometry methods in Common Core have never been tested at all.  We have what amounts to a massive experiment on 300 million children with no pilot testing whatsoever.

These concerns should make you realize that powerful interests have a great stake in our state and our country adopting Common Core, but our stakes are higher.  Our children and our future are more important and we will fight to break through the fog created by their massive PR and lobbying campaign designed to serve corporate interests over the interests of our children and our state.

We implore you to explore Florida’s options with an open mind and allow us the same access to your attention as has been provided to those corporate interests.


Chris Quackenbush




FL Governor Scott’s newest State Board of Education appointee comes under scrutiny

FL Parents & Educators Launch Executive Order to Stop Common Core 

FL Governor Scott stepping from the frying pan into the Common Core fire!

FL Parents & Educators Launch Executive Order to Stop Common Core

Florida parents, supported by parents and educators nationwide, released a Parent & Educators’ Executive Order, demanding an end to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its student data mining  component taking place in every state.

For a larger view click on the image.

The website Common Core Education Without Representation (CCEWR) states, “As parents, we claim the privilege of directing our children’s’ educations, free from SLDS (state longitudinal database tracking systems), free from Common Core-aligned testing, standards, or “model” curriculum; free from private trade group EIMAC/CCSSO data collection, free from federal micromanagement, free from federal “accountability”; free from the both student and teacher data mining and tracking that is offensive to individual liberty and to Constitutional, local control.”

“As parents and teachers, we claim the privilege outlined in the Declaration of Independence that government is by consent of the governed. We, the governed, have not been asked nor have we approved these unvetted standards and systems. Therefore, any governance of children or school staff under the Common Core agenda is simply invalid,” states CCEWR.

CCEWR released its Executive Order because:

The promises of the promoters of the Common Core Standards do not add up. The evidence is overwhelming, and increases daily, that the Common Core agenda damages where it claims to serve; yet those who push back against the Common Core agenda are disrespected by school boards and in hearings around the nation. This is outrageous. We are the children’s parents; children are not the government’s human capital” despite what the Department of Education repeatedly claims.

Along with the executive order, parents have issued a longer, referenced document that explains the reasoning behind the executive order. This document is entitled “Welcome to the Common Core Fuzzy Math: Common Core Equals Conditions Plus Coercion Plus Conflict of Interest.”


“No Common Core!” says Peter Feaman Florida Republican National Committeeman

Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education calls for abolishing FL Department of Education

FL Governor Scott stepping from the frying pan into the Common Core fire!

Call to abolish Florida Department of Education

Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita, University of Alabama.

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., former Senior Associate Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education and Professor Emerita at the University of Alabama, released a statement concerning the upcoming summit called for by Governor Rick Scott on Common Core State Standards.

Dr. Stotsky is known nationwide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards. Her current research ranges from the deficiencies in teacher preparation programs and teacher licensure tests to the deficiencies in the K-12 reading curriculum and the question of gender bias in the curriculum. She is regularly invited to testify or submit testimony to state boards of education and state legislators on bills addressing licensure tests, licensure standards, and Common Core’s standards (e.g., Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida and Texas).

The following is the full text of Dr. Stotsky’s statement:

I have been invited by parent groups in Florida to comment on Common Core’s English language arts standards using the format that Interim Commissioner Pamela Stewart chose to give them.  Although Governor Scott requested meetings at which parents could express their concerns, she deliberately chose a method that in effect prevents discussion and an open forum.  By telling parents that they can comment only one by one, and only on the particular standards in Common Core, in a 3-hour period of time, she is in effect spitting in their faces. Parents can also send in their individual comments by computer, a method that also prevents discussion. If this is how a Department of Education treats the parents of the children whose education this Department is supposed to improve, then there is no reason for Florida parents to support the existence of such a Department. It should be abolished by referendum.

I was a senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003.  At no time were critics of the Department’s draft documents treated as shabbily as Florida parents are now being treated.   Public comment was regularly allowed at Board of Education meetings, and the Department held many meetings around the state when it was developing the Bay State’s own standards. And when criticism was received on drafts of standards documents, the Department staff courteously and publicly answered these criticisms. They acted as public servants, not as bureaucrats trying to foist their own untested ideas on other people’s children.

The Massachusetts Department of Education also held a large public meeting on Common Core’s standards to which the standards writers were invited. It was informative for the audience to hear Jason Zimba, the mathematics standards writer, indicate that Common Core’s math standards would not prepare high school students for STEM. I recommend that the Florida Department of Education hold a similar meeting and invite parents and teaching faculty at its own higher education institutions to attend and question Common Core’s standards writers.

WDW – FL contributor Diane Kepus wrote, “Governor Scott recently tossed the parents and taxpayers of Florida a bone regarding implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) leading many to believe he was going to “shut down” implementation of CCSS via his Executive Order Number 13-276. However some are questioning if the EO has any teeth.”

“Governor Scott issues an Executive Order and uninformed citizens believe he is stopping CCSS in Florida. What he did was withdraw Florida from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) only. He stated he was going to hold three hearings for public comments, look into finding someone else for testing and acknowledged concerns regarding the Federal overreach and the data collection of psychological attitudes and beliefs,” noted Kepus.

Kepus concluded the bottom line is: The Florida implementation of Common Core State Standards is untouched, unaffected and on track. It appears former Commissioner Stotsky has come to the same conclusion.

Florida Stop Common Core Coalition Calls Out Governor Rick Scott

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.

George Levesque, General Counsel for the President of the Florida Senate Don Gaetz

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.”

Common Core = Conditions + Coercion + Conflict of Interest

WDW – FL received an email from a frustrated parent in Florida who was tired of the “script” being repeated to her. Her opposition to Common Core came after months of research and really trying to understand all of it.  She is just one voice among many parents that feel the same way. . In her email she states, “Please see attached doc[cument] that I have been working on. The concept of the doc[ument] was to take all those quotes that came from [Secretary of Education Arne] Duncan, [Microsoft founder Bill] Gates, [President] Obama, etc and to put them all into a doc[ument] that helped to clearly debunk the standards and all the claims that are being made in regards to them … from the original source. ”

Read  the report titled “Welcome to the new Common Core fuzzy math: CC = Conditions + Coercion + Conflict of Interest“.

The following are excerpts from her document:

We also changed the way we do business at the Department of Education. Instead of issuing top-down edicts, we provided incentives for and supports for states districts, schools and local communities to undertake reform themselves, including offering more flexibility to states in the form of waivers from No Child Left Behind … The Obama Record in Education, Secretary Duncan’s Remarks to the Mom Congress, April 30, 2012

bush obama duncan

President Obama, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Miami. Photo courtesy of the Miami-Herald.

“Why deal with pesky Congress when you get to make all the rules?” said Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The department doesn’t have the authority to declare waivers high-risk, he said, and one of the states should call Duncan’s bluff.

States are awarded points for their compliance with a rubric of standards on issues like teacher evaluations and the number of charter schools, and applicants compete for a share of the $3.4 billion pool. The program, which began with $4.6 billion in stimulus funds, has been credited with galvanizing almost every state to either make significant changes to education laws, gain support of teacher unions, or to raise education standards across the board—all without distributing a penny in federal money. Education reforms spark ‘quiet revolution’ By ABBY PHILLIP, July 27, 2010.

Read the full document here.

“While sometimes I’ve been called an architect of their standards, I think their true architecture is evidence,” Coleman said. “That’s the binding secret of the standards.” Coleman, Zimba and Sue Pimentel, an education consultant, made sure the standards reflect the skills students need to succeed after high school.

National Governors Association:

According to the latest IRS 990 form for the NGA’s Center for Best Practices, the nonprofit arm of NGA that shares “a common pool of cash and investments” in 2010 received 80 percent of its $14.8 million annual income from taxpayers. Tax documents also show that back in 2004, the earliest available documents traced, NGA received $31 million from taxpayers. Tax funding has made up most of NGA’s income every year in between.

Despite its heavy tax support, NGA is not required to make meetings, votes, and materials public like government bodies, and it has not done so for its work on Common Core.

NGA is a private trade organization whose actions have no legal binding on states. Governors do vote during NGA’s two annual meetings to express shared priorities, former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R) told School Reform News, but “by the time they vote on a position the [resolutions] get watered down so much any objections are already accommodated. It’s unlike legislatures, with committee hearings and votes.”

Previous School Reform News reports have revealed state and federal tax money provide approximately half of CCSSO’s operating funds, and that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation money has been intimately involved in this behind-closed-doors process. ‘State-Led’ Common Core Pushed by Federally Funded Nonprofit, By: Joy Pullman, Heartland Institute, April 24, 2013.

When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun. Bill Gates – National Conference of State Legislatures, July 21, 2009