From John O’Connor in StateImpact:
Five former Republican Party of Florida leaders have sent out an email asking state GOP members to support new education standards adopted by Florida and 44 other states.
The letter is signed by state Sen. John Thrasher and four other former state party chairmen. When Florida has raised its standards in the past, Thrasher wrote in the email, it has resulted in better scores on international tests and gains from black and Hispanic students
The new standards, known as Common Core, will continue that progress, Thrasher wrote in the email.
“Every leading indicator – test scores, graduation rates, national rankings, participation and achievement in Advanced Placement – continues to rise thanks to higher standards,” the email states. “But, we have to continue the fight. Common Core does that.”
Common Core has come under fire by those on both the right and left ends of the political spectrum. Their concerns include losing local control over education, higher costs and increasing time spent on testing.
Both supporters and opponents are trying to raise awareness about the standards, scheduled for use in every Florida classroom by the start of the 2014 school year.
One notable name signing the letter? Al Cardenas.
Cardenas is the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Cardenas could help bolster support for Common Core among its most conservative critics
The politicians – call them the Florida Five – write with breathtaking certainty of something so vast that exists only on paper. The letter confirms what’s evolved into republican’s dangerous group think that’s completely void healthy skepticism. It includes the name of every prominent republican pol on the planet.
Any exercise of this magnitude will have its supporters and detractors, its legitimate criticisms and its inevitable conspiracy theories. The simple questions for Florida are these: Will these new standards ensure we provide our kids with a better education and the taxpayers with a better return on their investment? Will the new assessments be better than the existing assessments? Will students graduate high school more prepared for college and the workforce?
We believe the answer to these questions is “yes.” And, we are not alone. Common Core supporters include a wide swath of conservative leaders, including Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Susana Martinez, Rick Snyder and our own Governor Rick Scott. And, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who led the education reform efforts in Florida for eight years and initiated the turnaround of Florida schools, has been a strong proponent of higher standards.
Golly, everybody agrees. How on earth could we be wrong?
The Florida Five fail to mention the ongoing train wreck of Florida’s accountability system nor do they address the controversy currently raging on Common Core’s PARCC testing. To omit these is a deliberately misleading attempt to ignore the six-ton elephant in the room.
The letter originated from Thrasher’s campaign apparatus. This makes it likely that it was written by someone with one of Jeb Bush’s foundations. The letters highly politicized scope – it was sent by Florida republicans to other state republicans – means that a Bush foundation operative is engaging in political activity.
These sensitive political realities aren’t lost on Bush’s advisors who have been working feverishly to keep him out of education food fights. Bush is positioning for a run at the White House in 2016 and to be viable, cannot be associated with a defeat on education policy. Common Core is in trouble and the Florida Five’s letter is a desperate attempt to keep republican legislators in line and minimize damage to Bush.