Dozens of protesters fanned out at the Capitol yesterday, trying to convince lawmakers to put the brakes on Common Core State Standards.
A coalition of groups working under the moniker Floridians Against Common Core Education is organizing rallies opposing the new teaching standards that are being phased in nationwide.
Florida is on schedule to complete its roll out of Common Core by the fall of 2014.
Dr. Karen Effrem is a pediatrician and president of Education Liberty Watch, a Minnesota-based limited government group that supports parents as the final authority over their child’s education.
“Common Core was adopted by the appointed State Board of Education. There wasn’t a single elected legislator or county school board member that had a voice,” Effrem said. “It is extraordinarily dangerous.”
Effrem said academic quality will suffer under the new standards.
“Do we want our children to graduate from high school with English and math skills at the 7th grade level? Do we want psychological manipulation via the curriculum and testing?” Effrem asked. “Do we want the ensnarement of private and home school students that will basically have no alternative to public education?”
Effrem thinks the new standards will lead to huge unfunded mandates for taxpayers and local districts.
She said the State Board of Education asked for $400 million to implement Common Core in one year. (The Florida Department of Education recently said it now believes $100 million is needed for the budget year beginning July 1, with additional money next year.)
“That is the same amount that was spent on the FCAT from 1996 to 2008,” Effrem said, adding that lawmakers so far have agreed to fund less than half of the amount requested.
Lawmakers “need to stop listening to well-funded, but unaccountable private interests, foundations and corporations,” Effrem said. Common Core is being promoted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his two education foundations.
Opponents want an 18-month moratorium on Common Core and a financial analysis of its costs.
Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said he fears the anti-Common Core movement is being fueled in part by political ideology.
“The development of Common Core was an initiative by the National Governors Association,” Bennett said. “It wasn’t a national initiative. It was an initiative driven by state leaders, and it actually predates the current presidential administration.
“The Obama administration — their constant rhetoric around Common Core has galvanized the other side of the political aisle that this is all about federal takeover,” Bennett said, “but those of us that have been working on this since 2009 and before would tell you that simply isn’t the case.
“Common Core will give the local teacher and the local district more flexibility than what we’ve had under the old standards.”
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a central Florida mom who’s trying to stop Common Core.