Letter: Prescription for mediocrity

300-RCOV-BOCC-SPKRLetter: Prescription for mediocrity

Randy Covington
St Augustine, FL

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the letter published in Historic City News last week from former Republican Party of Florida chairman, Florida Senator John Thrasher, asking your readers to be informed about Common Core State Standards.

The letter, joined by four other former chairs, including Carole Jean Jordan, Al Cardenas, Tom Slade, and Van Poole, blames “misinformation” for hindering acceptance of Common Core State Standards by parents and taxpayers.

I say the Senator’s letter does its own fair share of misinformation, although he doesn’t quote sources or examples for his allegations.

Thrasher writes, “Common Core is not a federal dictate or national mandate”.
I disagree. By accepting “Race to the Top” funds, the State of Florida accepted the mandate contained in the program to adopt common core standards. In fact, in the memorandum of understanding that the state and county school boards signed, Common Core was specifically cited. The State Board of Education and the legislature have adopted Common Core accordingly with full implementation due this coming year.

According to Senator Thrasher, “Some have alleged that the new standards change laws around student data and privacy. They don’t. Regardless of adopting the Common Core, states remain in control of their students’ private information, just as they are now.”

That is false. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act only says that -generally- schools must have written permission from the parent or a student over 18-years-old, in order to release any information from a student’s education record.

Without consent, schools may disclose a student’s education record to school officials with legitimate educational interest, other schools to which a student is transferring,
specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes, appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student, organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school, accrediting organizations, to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies, and state and local authorities, within the juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law.

If those weren’t enough exceptions, without consent, a student’s personally identifiable information, such as name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance, known as “directory” information, may be released at the discretion of each school unless the parent or student over 18-years-old has “opted-out”. Although a notice of the right to opt-out must be given each year, the student is assumed to have “opted-in” unless the school hears otherwise. The law is also silent on the method of parental or student notification — it could be an inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article.

“Common Core State Standards only set academic expectations in English and Math. They do not dictate curriculum, the textbooks used, the reading assignments handed down, the lesson plans employed by teachers, and the thousand other methods or materials used to help students learn,” Thrasher told his audience, however, that is false, as described. If the college readiness exams are based on this “standard” then so must all curriculum materials.

Thrasher went on to say, “Some have expressed concern about Common Core’s impact on parental choice, and, home school parents and parents with children in schools that do not receive state funding remain completely unaffected.”

This is blatantly false. Home-schooled children are required to take the same test as the public school students. Students have to take the SAT and ACT, which have adopted Common Core as the basis for their assessments. Senator Thrasher knows this. It is disturbing he would engage in spreading misinformation on this point.

At the end of the day, the Federal Government hijacked the Common Core. They used “Race to the Top” money to force adoption of their plans by the state governments who are desperate for money to plug holes in their state budgets. In reality, unless you stand up and reassert your rightful sovereignty over your children’s future and hold your local politicians accountable for undermining your personal liberty and sovereignty, your children already belong to the state.

What we all need to ask of our legislators, past Republican Chairs and anyone else that makes these assertions, is “Why do you support the federal takeover of my child’s education?”

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