Standards
1:25 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Common Core Opponents Respond To Former Florida GOP Chairmen

Originally published on Fri July 26, 2013 8:12 am

Earlier this week we published an email sent to Florida Republicans urging their support for Common Core State Standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states. The letter was signed by five former Republican Party of Florida chairmen, including American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas.

Common Core opponents have written a rebuttal.

“It is quite astonishing to see supposedly conservative Republicans argue that a centralized ‘solution’ to education problems is better than one crafted at the state and local level,” Jane Robbins with the American Principles Project wrote. “But that’s the case with the letter written by former Republican leaders in Florida, urging the GOP to support the Common Core national school standards.”

Below is the letter from Jane Robbins with the American Principles Project. You can read the full point-by-point response to the former party chairmen here.

It is quite astonishing to see supposedly conservative Republicans argue that a centralized “solution” to education problems is better than one crafted at the state and local level. But that’s the case with the letter written by former Republican leaders in Florida, urging the GOP to support the Common Core national school standards.

The leaders’ letter repeats the talking points advanced by Common Core proponents across the country. But repeating something over and over doesn’t make it true.

First, the Common Core process wasn’t “state-led.” The standards were created by private trade associations in Washington, D.C. (lavishly financed by the Gates Foundation), and imposed on the states when the U.S. Department of Education (USED) offered Race to the Top money to cash-strapped states that would adopt the standards. And even if the process had been state-led, why should California and New York have a vote in what Florida children are taught?

Second, the claim that the standards won’t dictate curriculum is specious. The point of standards is to drive curriculum. As Bill Gates said, “[I]dentifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to those standards.” Especially when the national PARCC test (of which Florida is a leader) is expressly using federal money to develop “instructional models” – and when what’s on the test inevitably dictates what will be taught in the classroom – the curriculum will be driven by Common Core. State and local “flexibility” will be limited to choosing one Common Core textbook over another Common Core textbook.

Similarly, teachers will have to adopt certain instruction methods regardless of their effectiveness. Elementary teachers must use recycled “fuzzy math” approaches that don’t work as well as the standard algorithms. Geometry teachers must abandon the traditional Euclidean method for an experimental approach. English teachers will no longer be allowed to devote most of their time to classic literature, but instead will have to focus on “informational text” such as technical manuals.

And teachers (and parents) who object to this will have no recourse within the state – all power to revise the standards will reside with anonymous interests in Washington.

And consider the data-collection problem. The Republican leaders’ claim that USED receives only aggregate, not student-level, data is simply incorrect. The cooperative agreement between PARCC and USED requires PARCC to give the federal government any student-level data it receives from the testing of Florida students. (Even if Florida escapes PARCC, USED is becoming increasingly aggressive about demanding personal student data in conjunction with other grant programs.)

And because USED has gutted federal student-privacy law, it can share this data with literally anyone in the world. Given the near-passage of a truly abominable student-data bill this past legislative session, Florida parents should be especially alarmed about the privacy issue.

Finally, Common Core will ultimately engulf private schools and homeschoolers, if the SAT, ACT, and GED are changed to align with Common Core (as has been promised/threatened). School “choice” will be snuffed out before it ever really began.

These issues should have been debated before Common Core was adopted. They weren’t, because the proponents wanted no debate. But Floridians can still make their voices heard and take back control over their students’ education.

 

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Florida. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/.