TALLAHASSEE — With their bill to suspend Florida’s new education benchmarks stalled in the Legislature, opponents of the Common Core State Standards are pursuing a new strategy.
They are turning the heat up on Gov. Rick Scott.
Last Sunday, about 80 members of the group Florida Parents Against Common Core protested outside a private fundraiser for Scott on Jupiter Island. Members of another group, Stop Common Core Florida, traveled to Tallahassee on Thursday to meet with Scott’s top education adviser, they said.
What’s more, the Republican Party of Florida’s Legislative Affairs Committee issued a formal resolution last month, urging Scott to take executive action against the standards.
“It’s time for Rick Scott to listen to the people,” said Chris Quackenbush, a grandmother and businesswoman who drove from Fort Myers to Tallahassee on Thursday to make her point. “How does he expect to win reelection without his base?”
Indeed, the continuing controversy over the standards puts Scott in a political pickle.
Most of the Common Core critics in Florida are the same people who propelled Scott into office in 2010: conservative families and Tea Party groups.
Scott is relying on their votes. But in order to defeat former Gov. Charlie Crist in November, Scott must also appeal to more moderate Republicans, many of whom support the new standards.
That seems to be the path he’s choosing. On Thursday, Scott said he is committed to a revised version of the education benchmarks, known as the Florida Standards.
“We’re doing the right thing,” Scott said, noting that he tried to allay concerns by soliciting public input last year.
Florida adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, before Scott became the state’s chief executive.
Oh, that’s right. Florida adopted Core in 2010 when Charlie Crist was governor. What a food fight this is going to be. The population that wants Core is shrinking by day and is limited to the republican dominated ruling class, corporate-financed hacks at Jeb Bush’s foundations and the Chamber of Commerce.
Charlie Crist has proved as slippery as any politician in recent memory, but the big money hasn’t arrived yet and Scott isn’t spending any of his. For political junkies like this writer, it’s going to be great.
Is there a chance that these anti-Core opponents, largely Tea Party inspired groups, will vote for Crist? Many people forget that republican voters were against the same version of the test-dominated teacher evaluation bill that Crist vetoed and Scott signed by 3-1. Conservative skepticism for the entire package of reform policy inspired by Bush and advanced by Scott is on the rise. What’s sure to be a summer and early fall of nasty TV ads might keep a lot of conservative Floridians at home that first Tuesday in November, holding their nose for both candidates.