« Acrimony at the state Board of Education meeting | Main | Scott pens letter to Rubio and Nelson urging delay in flood insurance hikes »

Miami-Dade's GOP slaps down Common Core (takes stand against past chair, Jeb Bush)


Res1Miami-Dade’s Republican Party voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to oppose the Common Core education standards as an unconstitutional “inappropriate overreach” by the federal government.

The two-page resolution, part of a grassroots conservative revolt sweeping Florida and the nation, was partly a stand against President Obama as well as former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who helped build the Miami-Dade Republican Party and chaired it in 1984.

Bush, the “education governor,” has recently been a leading voice advocating for Common Core, a series of standards that are new national benchmarks outlining what students should know at each grade level in each topic.

Common Core does not prescribe specific teaching methods and reading lists.

But in today’s world of conservative Republican politics, the distinction is blurred between Common Core standards and the curriculum to achieve those standards. For many, there is too much Obama and too much big government involved.

And, according to the resolution approved Tuesday night by the Miami GOP, there’s lots of money to be made by those companies making Common Core-aligned curricula, software and tests. Republican Frank de Varona said Common Core had bad standards, wasn’t constitutional and could allow private companies to engage in “intrusive data mining” of children.

“There are sensors being contemplated to put them on children at public schools,” he said. “Sensors, cameras, looking at your face...  a bracelet to measure your blood flow. It sounds like 1984 George Orwell kind of stuff.”

Activist Pam Evans, who helped propose the resolution (Download Resolution), appealed to Republicans to vote their conscience and buck their party leaders if need be.

“Is party more important than the education of the children of the state of Florida?” she asked. “Is loyalty to its lead promoters – Jeb Bush and the rest of the Republican leadership -- so cemented that we will be whipped into one mindset and put party over principal?”

Evans took more issue with the curricula associated with Common Core than the standards and noted, for instance, that children would be exposed to graphic sexuality by reading Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye, which is on some reading lists.

Only one person, Republican Max Levine, spoke up in favor of Common Core – and voted against the resolution.

“This is not, essentially, a federal endeavor. We know that 40 states voluntarily accepted this, including some led by some very conservative governors,” he said. “Yes. There’s federal funding tied. Yes, there are liberals involved. Welcome to public education, folks. The standards themselves are excellent…They encourage skills, they encourage critical thinking. They encourage analysis both in math and reading.”

Republican Juanky Robaina tried to steer a middle course and suggested the party members propose an alternative in addition to passing a resolution. He got little support.

Lost in the discussion was the subtle distinction that, as a series of standards, Common Core is not supposed to be a curriculum system dictated by the federal government.

There are not pre-set reading lists, or lesson plans for teachers.

However, companies sell products that tailor the curriculum to Common Core’s standards.

So Common Core requires a second-grade student to ask and answer questions such as who, what, where, when and why, and demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. But states and/or local school boards are supposed to select the curriculum that would actually list the texts those students read from.

Bottom line: Common Core doesn't require children to read books like The Bluest Eye. That's up to school districts or states.

The standards have been approved in 45 states and in the District of Columbia. They went into effect across all grade levels in Florida at the start of the current school year.

While led by tea partiers and libertarians, the opposition to Common Core isn’t just on the right. Some liberal groups are opposing the standards, too, albeit for different reasons. They are concerned the new standards and accompanying tests will stifle creativity in the classroom.

The Miami-Dade Republican Party isn't the first countywide group to take a formal position against the standards. The Republican Party of Sarasota County launched an anti-Common Core petition last month.

Additionally, individual party leaders, including Leon County GOP Chairman Bradley Maxwell, have added their names to a sharply written letter urging state leaders to dump the national benchmarks.

Still, state education officials have held firm on their commitment to keep the standards in place. On Tuesday, the state education board reaffirmed its support of the Common Core. And Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future held a media call with state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Florida College System Chairman Joe Pickens to promote the standards.

Meantime, though, Bush's political heir, Sen. Marco Rubio, broke with him over Common Core by criticizing it. Both men are the subject of speculation for a 2016 White House bid, though Rubio is more likely to run than Bush.

One voice has been noticeably absent from the conversation as of late.

Gov. Rick Scott hasn't said much about education since convening a three-day education summit in Clearwater last month.

At Tuesday's state Board of Education meeting, board member Kathleen Shahanan (a Bush loyalist and former staff chief) referenced rumors that Scott would weigh in on the Common Core controversy via executive order. Chairman Gary Chartrand said he "suspected" to hear from the governor soon, but did not elaborate.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said an executive order isn't out of the question.

"The discussion and ideas generated at the summit will guide our future decisions and steps we will take through either legislative proposals, action by the State Board of Education or executive action to ensure Florida students are prepared for college or careers,” she wrote in a statement.

Kathleen McGrory contributed


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bushies need therapy

It's time for Jeb and all the Florida bushies to go away. They are great in their own minds.


Nah, nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah.....HEY JEBBY GOODBYE!



Hear a child psychologist tell you what many are finding out --Common Core is bad for their children!!!


Glad to see people waking up to the truth about Common Core. The Common Core standards are NOT even age appropriate in the lower grades. Florida would not even be contemplating Common Core if it wasn't for the $700 MILLION in stimulus money the OBAMA administration gave to the disingenuous REPUBLICANS in Tallahassee. Now that they have gone down the Common Core road, they realize that it will cost another $100 MILLION just to upgrade technology to just TAKE THE TEST! That is why they are talking about not being a part of the testing.

Jorge K.

I am a staunch Conservative and I find absolutely nothing wrong with Common Core. The truth about Common Core is being drowned out by the hysterical lies, half-truths and speculations of people who don't know what they're talking about and are becoming mobs.

I beseech my fellow Republicans to educate themselves on Common Core and not holler, "Kill the Beast!" just because others are shouting louder.


45 states voluntarily participated in Common Core.

States who adopted Common Core would be entitled to Race to the Top federal grant money.

I believe Common Core became another politicized issue by those who see it as another supposed federal government takeover - WHICH IT IS NOT.

I attended a Common Core workshop, I have read the standards, and I am a teacher. Yes, it is yet another change in the system. This one has merit.
- Is it perfect? No.
- It is better? Yes.
- Will it need time to adjust? Absolutely.

Alison Kiser

Bottom line.....the federal government should not be telling states what standards to teach. This is the state's domain. States who refuse CC are punished. These standards were never field tested and is a ploy by the corporate reformers to make money on all the tests and curriculum needed for implementation. None of these measures are improving classroom instruction or student learning. It is a take over. Please read Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error" so that some of you understand all about the take-over of our public schools by the corporate reformers who answer to shareholders and not students and parents. If schools fail as determined by these tests, they are handed over to private management companies. More money for them and less for the real public schools. Hmmm! Perhaps that is their intent.

john Nelson

lets also consider who is pushing Common Core Of course Jeb Bush, next consider that every member of the state board of education is on Bush's foundation board including Pam Stewart, does this not lead to a major conflict of interest?

I believe that whole state board of education needs to be replaces, and the head should be an elected position, not appointed by the governor.
Look who tends to gain million from this adventure, Jeb bush, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Pearson of Pearson Random house who prints many of the schools books, and owns the rights to FCAT.
It is not about your children, it all about money!

These are the peoples children that this board in controlling, not the governors, the people should choose who runs this very important division of state government.

Maria Alina Ramirez

1st - Per credentialed & independent educational experts, existing Sunshine Standards are equal or better than Common Core's. If it works, don't touch it...unless you want to "line someone's pocket" & increase taxes?
2nd - Persons, versed on the Assessment Tests that are being produced for CC, have stated that these tests will be "curriculum specific". That is, the curriculum & the standards are going to be meshed into one -- so that when students respond to a standard/benchmark measuring test question it will be asked in terms of the curricullum (book, article, hand-outs, video) utilized in class -- the question is not tapping a "generic" knowledge response to evaluate skills. "Exclusively Centralized Federal Selection" of curriculum creates: (1)A TOO BIG TO FAIL STUDENT POPULATION" -- the non-performance of one is the non-performance of ALL , (2) the choice of ALL material in the hands of a few FEDERAL BUREAUCRATS leads to limited exposure, perhaps baised and of an unacceptable political/religious/ethical/sexual/family quality for parents, which will produce cookie cutter molded minds ready for the next indoctrination step at "Higher" Learning Institutions (only a minute part of the selection is left to teachers-will not be used in the standard testing). Individuality will be sacrificed IN FULL to the commune -- is this the New America or Globalism at work...it is our choice...we need to decide right now!
3rd - J. Bush has stated that CC is a train wreck ... however he also stated that the U.S. should push on with CC...some think that he is positioning himself through charter private schools to rescue the educational system once CC has totally destroyed it -- don't know enough about this...
FACTS ARE TRUTH & HISTORY DOES REPEAT ITSELF -- research & you shall find!

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/09/miami-dades-gop-slaps-down-common-core-a-stand-against-past-chair-jeb-bush.html#storylink=cpy

Pamela Evans

Clarifying that curricula IS what drives the standards. Students must learn the curricula in order to pass the tests.
Another item mentioned at the REC meeting was the lesson from the Common Core Springboard English Textual Power Textbook-11th grade- "From A Marxist Perspective." English/Language Arts Class, Really? Parents need to start looking at their children's textbooks. Some parents have & were quite surprised.

4th grade English has short story discussing Unions...English really? Look between the pages and see exactly what is being taught to your children.
Are in favor of surveys for your children asking questions such as IS Religion important to you, do you believe in social justice, etc.. agree or disagree, should your children be asked any questions such as these, especially with no parental permission..Google Sarasota River High School + survey.

The comments to this entry are closed.