October 22, 2021

Tell Gov. Scott: Stop Common Core and High Stakes Testing! Veto CS/HB 7069

The FIX was IN: How Jeb Bush and his puppets threw our kids under the bus

Florida Senate and House just passed disastrous companion bills supporting Common Core and proprietary FSA high stakes testing. The bill that is advancing is CS/HB 7069. They are claiming successful reduction in tests but, in fact, are only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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A group of concerned experts got together to create logical and thoughtful solutions (HB1121 and SB1496), informed by other states’ efforts to remove Common Core and high stakes testing. We were excited to present the best solutions we’d seen nationwide. We trooped off to Tallahassee and presented this to as many Florida legislators as possible.

What we were told was shocking! Several legislators said nothing gets done at all unless you have the blessing of the leadership which would not be forthcoming because they don’t want to embarrass Jeb Bush or repudiate the mantra of common core and high stakes testing. Essentially, they do what they’re told. While they campaigned to be our champions and fight Common Core, they did nothing but push the buttons they were told to push.

So after repeated tries to meet with leadership, we saw the education advisor for Speaker Crisafulli — a very biased Jeb Bush gatekeeper who had been on this job over 30 years: Lynn Cobb, Special Counsel to the Speaker at Florida House of Representatives.   She claimed the ACT isn’t a nationally normed test used in Florida, and then called us conspiracy theorists when we showed her the actual data from the ACT website. We were summarily dismissed like navel lint.

Using lies, obfuscation and false data, the legislature and governor have managed to ruin the Florida’s education system and cripple our children as evidenced by the nationally-normed ACT results which show that we now rank 47th in the country.

Jeb Bush has used this failed system as his personal piggy bank for his presidential race, selling out to the vendors such as Pearson PLC, Microsoft, GE and others who stand to gain enormous wealth from the high stakes testing plan to test only on computers. This enables them major access to the $1.3 TRILLION market through the activities of the JEB BUSH Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Meetings of this foundation have been used to pay legislators and bureaucrats to travel and enjoy conferences, all expenses paid plus, where they will spend time with the vendors who will also become their benefactors. This is not a new plan for him as he used the same strategy with the Foundation for Florida’s Future to gather money all over the nation trading on his father’s name to become governor in the first place. See the article in St. Pete Times, http://www.sptimes.com/State/91398/Policy_group_proved_s.html

John Legg, Erik Fresen, Kelly Stargel, Manny Diaz, Marlene O’Toole, Don Gaetz, Matt Gaetz, Gary Chartrand and many others directly benefit either by owning charter schools or by potential positions in a new Jeb Bush White House, or other direct monetary benefit.

There is absolutely NO evidence, report, or theory which says computer testing is better for accuracy, ease of administration, fairness, data analysis or any logical reason. Using technology for learning is wonderful as an aid, but not necessary for testing. So why would we force our districts to spend over $2 billion on implementing this testing technology? None of this expense was ever presented to the public or they would certainly have “sticker shock.”

This expense is just the beginning. There are replacement costs, maintenance costs, upgrade costs, staff costs, training costs, and facility costs to stack on top of that. Four districts in California have sued that state for a $BILLION for the unfunded mandates. Certainly we can expect the same here. Then taxpayers get to pay on both sides of that lawsuit because legislators ignore their duty to the voters in exchange for personal gain.

The bill that passed, HB 7069/SB616, requires a limit of 5% of time (9 of 180 days) for state testing UNLESS they have parental permission for more. How is that time counted? Who counts it? Who sends out letters to parents for permission? Who tracks their responses? What if some parents say “no”? What about the time wasted while kids are playing “musical computers” to share testing resources? Why isn’t that counted?

My head is spinning with the bureaucratic complexity and arbitrariness of that figure. Why not 3% or 13%? Why not just get out of the maniacal micromanagement of public schools? Teachers are certified and schools are accredited. Legislators are NOT.

State tests AND state standards LIMIT education choices and results. Who achieves the best results? Home school tops the chart. Private and religious schools do better as well. WHY? They can choose standards and curriculum to match individual needs. Because they allow more instruction time and less testing, they have more enrichment courses, and they don’t have to teach to the test.

I suggest that the Emperor, Jeb Bush, has no clothes. Here’s what one of his MAIN supporters, Senator Gaetz, said in committee January 7, 2015: http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1715-senate-education-prek-12-committee/. At hour 1:15, after Commissioner Pam Stewart’s presentation, Gaetz says “Here’s what I’ve learned today”

  1. “We don’t know how much time is consumed by Statewide Assessments.”
  2. “We don’t know how much money it costs to perform state mandated tests.”
  3. “We don’t know whether tests that are performed by state mandate are valid and reliable.”
  4. “We’ve learned today that we have no contingency plan if there are problems with statewide assessments.”
  5. “We have not beta tested statewide assessments.”

Then he voted for it.

Your children, your state, your taxes, your future just went down the drain. Are you going to let Jeb Bush and his sycophants get away with it?

Governor Scott should show us that he is not part of this. Tell him to VETO this bill. He has the power to rid us of Common Core and High Stakes testing by executive order.

Chris Quackenbush

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