Florida Stop Common Core Coalition Announces Ratings in Key Florida Races

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The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC), an organization of fifty grassroots and parent groups from all over Florida, is pleased to announce the release of six Common Core and related education voter guides from six key contested primaries. The guides consist of detailed information about and links to candidates’ statements and records regarding the inferior Common Core standards, validity challenged high stakes assessments, data mining, and career tracking, as well as what they would do about it (see below). The races chosen are those where candidates have worked really hard against this dangerous system, publicly promised to work against it, or promoted it while making false claims of working against it.

“Our grading system, just like that in schools, rewards hard work and punishes deception,” FSCCC Executive Director, Dr. Karen Effrem explained. “We are grateful to Rep. Debbie Mayfield (A++), a national leader, and Rep. Ray Pilon (A+) for their incredible work against this terrible system. We also really appreciate legislators like Rep. Greg Steube and Rep. Matt Hudson, who even though they have been working in other important areas of public policy, are courageous enough to pledge to stand against special interests to fight Common Core. In addition, we are thankful for candidates like Ms. Laurie Bartlett, Mr. David Gee, and Mr. Steve Vernon giving so much of their time and treasure to protect the hearts and minds of our children.”

“At the same time, it is critical that promotion of this system and deceit about records not be rewarded. We want our supporters to be informed.” continued Effrem. “The actions, campaign materials, of Reps. Workman (F), O’Toole (F), Passidomo (D), Baxley (D), former Rep. Holder (F), and candidate Gruters (D-) are incredibly disappointing and dangerous.

Here is one example of that kind of deception with Joe Gruters being among the first to float the idea of the deceptive Common Core rebrand during the governor’s 2013 summit:


Dr. Effrem concluded, “We as parents and grandparents cannot and will not tolerate Common Core deceit because the actions of these public officials have such enormous impact on the futures and privacy of our children” 

The races are listed below:

SENATE DISTRICT 12: Dennis Baxley (D)  David Gee  (A-) Marlene O’Toole (F)

SENATE DISTRICT 17: Debbie Mayfield (A++) Michael Thomas (C+) Amy Tidd (C-) Ritch Workman (F) 

SENATE DISTRICT 23: Frank Alcock (C) Frank Cirillo (C-) Doug Holder (F) Rick Levine(B-) Nora Patterson (C-) Ray Pilon (A+) Greg Steube (B+)

SENATE DISTRICT 28: Matt Hudson (B+) Kathleen Passidomo (D) 

 HOUSE DISTRICT 4: Laurie Bartlett (A) Wayne Harris (C-) Armand Izzo (B-) Mel Ponder(C-) Jonathan Tallman (C)  

HOUSE DISTRICT 73: Joe Gruter (D-) Steve Vernon (A)

“Noncognitive” Factors: Are they Fair Game for Data Collection and Instruction?

In February 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. To many who were aware of this report, it was alarming and controversial. In the summary of this report it says. “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.” It seems typical that when the U.S. Department of Education releases a report like this the groundwork has already been laid for implementation of the ideas, if they have not already been embedded into existing and newly proposed practice. (this report does not seem to be available on the ed.gov website anymore)

The Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA S227) would allow for the collection of data on “noncognitive” factors like those mentioned in the summary (see above). Karen Effrem has done a wonderful job of presenting issues and recommendations for SETRA in the brief she has prepared called Issues of Data Privacy, Parental Rights, and Federally Sponsored Psychological Screening in the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)/Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) in the Context of Current Federal Law and Programs. Karen Effrem, M.D., is the president of Education Liberty Watch and Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. She identifies and expands on four major issues and makes recommendations about them. The four major issues she addresses in this document are:

  1. SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children.
  2. SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
  3. There is continued reliance on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA.
  4. Reliance on PPRA that allows sensitive data prohibited in surveys to be collected in curriculum and assessments.

The Summary Response to the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee March Hearing “Strengthening Research and Privacy Protections to Better Serve Students” is a brief summary that Karen has prepared.

A one page handout has been prepared for people to download and share. This one pager is a good initial attention getter that may be followed up with Karen Effrem’s brief.

You should be able to download a pdf copy of this one pager by clicking in the upper right hand corner of the document or by clicking here.

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) intends to begin assessing “noncognitive” factors. To do so, they will collect data on socio-economic status, technology use, school climate, grit, and desire for learning. The NAEP is making a leap from gathering academic content knowledge data to gathering “noncognitive” data. In making this move to gather data on “mindsets” that could be used for psychological profiling, NAEP will likely be in violation of federal law. For more information about this, you are encouraged to read the letter RE: Proposed National Education Assessment Plan and student/parental rights that the Liberty Counsel has addressed to Dr. Karen Effrem.

There seems to be a whole industry involved in the collection, storage, and sharing of student data, including “noncognitive” factors. Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins have written an article called The War on Student Privacy that features some of the players in this industry.

The education system, legislative bodies, government agencies, and industry all seem to think and act as if they are entitled to student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors. Are student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors really fair game? Many parents would not think so.


Preview of Common Core Battle in Florida Legislature

florida-state-flagTampa Bay Times staff writer Jeffery Solochek wrote a brief preview of the Common Core debate to take place in the Florida Legislature next session.

Solochek wrote:

Lawmakers filed bills in both the House and Senate to halt the standards in 2014, but each died in their first committee without hearing. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Board of Education have tried to distance themselves from the Common Core by rebranding them as Florida’s own. But in actuality the FLBOE simply made a few small amendments to the Common Core, such as adding cursive and calculus, and otherwise left it generally intact.

Opposition has not shrunk, especially as CCSS foes have allied themselves with anti-testing advocates who seem to be gaining ground statewide. With leaders like (State Senator Jack) Latvala having doubts, the issue appears more likely to have legs in the coming Florida legislative session.

If you live in Florida be sure to connect with groups like the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Florida Parents RISE, and Floridians Against Common Core Education.  Let’s hope we see some real action this next legislative session in the Sunshine State.

Written Testimony on the Common Core & Next Generation Sunshine State Standards

Karen Effrem, MD the President of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition submitted written testimony on the Common Core State Standards and Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.  I’m embedding her testimony below or you can read/download it here: