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Will Parents and the Public Really Receive a Fair Hearing?
Florida: October 9, 2013- When Debbie Higginbotham, Stacie Clarke, and Meredith Mears, all Moms and leaders in Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC), learned of the hearings on Common Core Standards called for by Governor Rick Scott, they knew exactly who they wanted as their expert speaker, Dr. Sandra Stotsky.
FPACC is a statewide grassroots effort to fight the intrusion of education without representation that has been successful in bringing awareness on the subject to citizens and legislators in the state of Florida.
Debbie Higginbotham, the Northeast Florida coordinator said that she wanted Dr. Stotsky “because she was the lead ELA, (English, Literature, Arts) expert on the Validation Committee (for the Common Core Standards). Dr. Stotsky knows firsthand how the standards are inferior and unproven and as a member of the Validation Committee, she would not sign off on them. She is currently the Head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and is credited with developing in Massachusetts, one of the most rigorous ELA standards in the nation for K-12. She is also known nation-wide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Stotsky who has generously given of her time to speak on the subject in many states in many different forums, declined. She issued this statement, explaining her reasons:
“I have been invited by parent groups in Florida to comment on Common Core’s English language arts standards using the format that Interim Commissioner Pamela Stewart chose to give them. Although Governor Scott requested meetings at which parents could express their concerns, she deliberately chose a method that in effect prevents discussion and an open forum. By telling parents that they can comment only one by one, and only on the particular standards in Common Core, in a 3-hour period of time, she is in effect spitting in their faces. Parents can also send in their individual comments by computer, a method that also prevents discussion. If this is how a Department of Education treats the parents of the children whose education this Department is supposed to improve, then there is no reason for Florida parents to support the existence of such a Department. It should be abolished by referendum.
I was a senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003. At no time were critics of the Department’s draft documents treated as shabbily as Florida parents are now being treated. Public comment was regularly allowed at Board of Education meetings, and the Department held many meetings around the state when it was developing the Bay State’s own standards. And when criticism was received on drafts of standards documents, the Department staff courteously and publicly answered these criticisms. They acted as public servants, not as bureaucrats trying to foist their own untested ideas on other people’s children.
The Massachusetts Department of Education also held a large public meeting on Common Core’s standards to which the standards writers were invited. It was informative for the audience to hear Jason Zimba, the mathematics standards writer, indicate that Common Core’s math standards would not prepare high school students for STEM. I recommend that the Florida Department of Education hold a similar meeting and invite parents and teaching faculty at its own higher education institutions to attend and question Common Core’s standards writers.”
Ms. Higginbotham also shared her concerns that these hearings and the education summit that was held in Tallahassee in September give the public the appearance that our state reprentatives are taking our concerns seriously, when they have actually been designed to establish a pre-determined outcome.
“How can they say they are serious when Commissioner Stewart is on the record saying the, plan is to leave the standards essentially in place with a few cosmetic changes up to the superficial 15% that Florida declined to do when adopting them in 2010, and that PARCC, is still on the table or some other national 'off the shelf' test aligned to the Common Core national standards," said Higginbotham.
Ms. Higginbotham expressed her disappointment with some of “our state’s leader’s willingness to sell our state’s and our children’s sovereignty for a few grant dollars and to help the wealthy and powerful politicians, corporations and foundations connected to CCS”.
“Our legislators need to explain why Florida is disrupting our entire educational and testing system, to venture into a program that hasn’t been proven to be any better than what we currently have, that excludes parental and local involvement and has an unknown price tag. Not just explain to me but to the thousands of people in our state who are opposed to the implementation of Common Core” said Higginbotham, the feisty Mom of 6. She did however, commend Debbie Mayfield, the representative who introduced HR 25, a bill to “pause” Common Core until some of the questions are answered.
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Posted on July 24, 2013 at 11:15am