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Greater Consortium of Florida School Boards says “Suspend High Stakes Testing”

Meetings of The Greater Consortium of Florida School Boards are not usually big news, but this meeting, Friday September 19, in West Palm Beach, Florida was an exception as parents have become a volcano of discontent and school board members are rising to address their concerns. The Consortium is eleven school boards which team together for the purpose of lobbying the state government. Forty two percent of the K-12 children in Florida attend their schools.

In fact, many school board meetings are now the “hot” places to be as pressure mounts against the maniacal testing demands which come with Common Core. News this week included hundreds of new tests to be administered, costing each district millions and crowding out precious learning time. It is estimated that over 40% of class time is already spent on testing alone. Schools have gone so far as to end recess in K-6 so that more time can be spent testing.

Eruptions have occurred in local school board meetings all around the state. In Lee County, there was a vote to “Opt out” of state mandated tests altogether. Hundreds of parents jammed into the board meeting wearing red in solidarity and gave passionate testimony about the disastrous effects of Common Core and high stakes testing.

Now, the rebellion has swelled and the Consortium voted unanimously to include a main plank in their legislative agenda to “suspend high stakes testing.” This will be confirmed by a vote in each school district and will be used as a lobbying platform.
The move was stunning as all districts must agree on issues in the platform which usually results in only non-controversial proposals, not bold statements. But big problems require bold action.

The state, itself, has admitted there are many problems with the deliver and administering of tests. Just last week the Florida DOE ended the K-2 “FAIR” test.

What is “high stakes” testing? Why the aversion to tests? Isn’t “accountability” important?

In the “old days” when schools worked, certified teachers taught in accredited schools and the teachers gave final exams and evaluated the body of student work to produce a grade which was entered in the report card. Students were accountable for their results.

Since 1994, criticism of results led some legislators to say “Let’s raise the bar.” Let’s impose “higher standards” and base teacher pay and tenure on student results. This is “outcome based education.” And this was a big mistake which got bigger as time went on.

The federal government passed No Child Left Behind in 2002. This required tests to show ALL students would progress at a certain rate, or schools would be taken over. Teachers would be paid and fired on results. This led to frustration, teaching only to the test, and widespread cheating scandals.

Of course, accountability for one’s actions is important. But we should not be accountable for results we do not control. That is what we have done to teachers and schools. Lessons are scripted and teachers are not allowed to slow down or speed up as their lessons are “paced.” Bright students get bored and those who don’t catch on right away are left behind.

The state dictates the standards and curriculum must match because pay and even their jobs depend on getting good results on tests the state mandates. Students are not measured on a body of work, but can have life changing decisions made for them on the basis of a single test. Third graders are held back a year, and high schoolers must pass one test in order to graduate. State mandated End of Course (EOC) exams count for 30% of the yearly grade in core subjects.

We should also not be rewarded and punished using unattainable goals as in “No Child Left Behind.” Here’s a simple example: I can reward someone five feet tall millions of dollars to beat a seven fool tall NBA player at basketball and it is nearly impossible for him to attain that goal no matter how hard he tries. I can punish him when he fails, and there is no positive result from either to the shorter player. There would be an enormous negative effect, deflating the ego of the player and discouraging him from trying at all.

Realizing all of this, and examining the disastrous empirical results, we must support the bold move supported by the Greater Consortium of Florida’s School Boards, and press the Governor and Legislators to stop this unworkable, unwise, and unaffordable method of meaningless measurement.

Unwinding the bloated bureaucracy in which corporate cronies such as Pearson PLC, Bill Gates and Jeb Bush have benefitted massively, won’t be easy. But we must free our children of the tests which line their pockets and steal nearly half of their class time for learning.

It is OUR responsibility to raise our children, not the village, not the state, and certainly not Washington DC.

We, the People, must take back our parental rights and demand that the schools, our state, and our nation remember they serve at the CONSENT of the Governed, not the GOVERNOR.

We must be free to teach the truth and America will once again be that Shining City on the Hill where American Exceptionalism is common…

Not Common Core.

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The Politics of Common Core: FL State Board of Education Poised to approve Common Core 2/18/14 at Orlando Board meeting

With breathtaking hubris, Governor Scott’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has ignored experts and citizens loud cries to stop the giant experiment called Common Core, which could damage a generation of children.  But this is not just a move born of benign ignorance, it is a political calculation.

The stakes in their games are enormous.  The Governorship and the Presidency could hang in the balance.  Early speculation comes from past experience.  Just what is happening behind the scenes?  It certainly doesn’t take a mental giant to see that Governor Scott is leaning on support from his predecessor, Jeb Bush and his new friends, who promised and delivered support and influence to win the last election.

The growing rift between the Republican Party groups and the Republican Party of Florida was nowhere more apparent than the recent annual state meeting.  County Executive Committees voted to oppose Common Core and were overruled in the end by the Executive Committee, Jeb Bush’s cabal, squeezing the grassroots out of the party in Florida.  They assert that we must blindly go along with Governor Scott’s adamant support of Common Core because we certainly don’t want a major rift in support to allow “Charlie Hippochrist” to steal the election.

Newsflash!  Charlie Christ is ahead of Scott in the polls and gaining.  Continuing his path of isolated decision making on this and other issues is not bolstering Scott’s campaign.  So WHY is he supporting this unpopular, anti-conservative position on Common Core?  Two words….Jeb Bush, and the promise his new support team will carry Scott over the finish line a winner.

You see, Jeb Bush is playing his own game here for yet a larger prize, the presidency, and this political calculation has worked for Jeb Bush before.  This interesting article from the St. Pete Times shows how Jeb Bush uses foundations to gather money and power to unleash a successful campaign.

When he narrowly lost his bid to be Governor, he needed a way to stay in the mix and build strength.  His foundation provided a way to collect money and support and it worked.  Flash forward, the conservative “education governor” of Florida embraces Common Core before the standards are even developed and his foundation gets $501,000 as a first installment.  He joins with Bill Gates Foundation, GE, Eli Broad Foundation, Pearson Education and many more multi-billion dollar groups who can provide as much money and power as he could ever need and a nationwide platform of education reform.

Just one problem, Common Core is a Trojan horse delivering poisonous messages to our children, not a “reform” at all.  His “team” includes unpopular multi-nationalist billionaires who stand to gain more money and power by “Transforming” America through the hearts and minds of the children.  The book recently written by Dr. Terrence Moore called “The Story-Killers” shows just how this is done.

Florida is ground zero for this high stakes game.  If Common Core collapses, his “money tree” coalition likely will suffer a similar fate.

This is all coming to a head as Anti-Common Core groups mobilize against this assault on their families and their future.  “Healthcare, concerns me.  But when they are contaminating the hearts and minds of our children, this is where we draw the line!”  Kathy Doan, co-founder of Stop Common Core FL,  said.

And she is joined by leaders from over 50 groups within Florida who are not fooled by the bait and switch maneuvers by this administration.  On the 18thof February, the State Board of Education plans to vote on changing the name of Common Core and adopting it in spite of huge opposition from parents, teachers, administrators and children.

A rally is planned for Feb 18th by these groups to demonstrate their disgust with the Department of Education, its Board, Governor Scott who appointed them, and Jeb Bush for promoting this campaign for his political gain.  For information, call Chris Quackenbush, 239-823-2980

We are also advertising on radio against Common Core and sharing our ads with others across the country to grow opposition everywhere. Tax deductible contributions may be made to www.ivbe.org to increase our ad coverage.

Why Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids – Period!

The document, “Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids. Period” from Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC) has just been released. The document explains why there is a growing mistrust with Common Core.

FPACC states, “Parents are not radicals, we are concerned… and we are basing our conclusions on the words from the proponents themselves, not from editorials.  I urge you to read the entire document to understand why there is such a growing grassroots opposition to Common Core. Parents across America are just fed up.”

Watch this video titled, “Common Core For Public Officials”:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfcJuV4dC6g[/youtube]

Members of our group, Florida Parents Against Common Core have produced a detailed document outlining why Common Core and Race To The Top are wrong for our children and our parents.  This document will help you understand the process by which we have come to have Common Core State Standards imposed on us, against our will and without the proper involvement of parents in discussing the validity of the premise and potential impacts. Additionally, it details how this process was never more than a wholesale transfer of sovereignty by our state legislators to the Federal Government in exchange for a $ 700 million dollar bribe.

The proponents, backed by a campaign of several hundred million dollars in the best public relations resources available, all stand to gain billions of dollars in benefits in the form of new business, the quashing of competitive forces and the in some instances, the advancement of personal political ambitions, all through a grand experiment constructed of an untested theory of education, the brainchild of a man who has never taught a day in his life.

Download: Common Core is Wrong For Our Kids.

RELATED COLUMN: Breaking News Stories: Rejection of Common Core and Its Tests: Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Congressional Leadership and More