This week brings the continuation of two attempts to get our elected officials to denounce Common Core, though using a new message frame: “restore local control.” (See “Recent focus on textbooks and Common Core: why now, and what’s at stake.”)
On Tuesday, the Board of Collier County Commissioners (BCC) will take up a revised anti-Common Core resolution, as I anticipated last week in “We still have work to do.”
And that same evening, the School Board will reconsider the 2015 Legislative Platform it unanimously adopted last August. See “The Anti-Common Core Resolution, the Collier School Board and the State Legislature” for why this usually-annual discussion is on the agenda again so soon.
I expect (at least, I hope) this will be the last time this matter will come before both elected bodies this year. Not only do I oppose the goals of those proposing it, but I fear it is taking attention away from the REAL business of our elected officials.
In this post, I will share my “open letters” to the County Commission and to the School Board. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to send similar letters yourself, and that you’ll attend Tuesday’s BCC meeting and/or School Board meeting to show your interest and concern.
Open Letter to Commissioners Fiala, Henning, Hiller, Nance and Taylor
Subject: 2/10/15 BCC Meeting Agenda Item 16.H.5: Recommendation to adopt a Resolution petitioning Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to enact legislation that will restore the local School Boards’ control of educational standards, curriculum, and student assessments
Thank you for your wise decision at your last meeting to not support a Resolution telling the locally-elected Collier County School Board what to do. You correctly concluded that since the School Board is charged with overseeing the operation of our public schools and setting policy, interfering in their business would have been inappropriate.
However I do not agree with your decision to bring back a revised Resolution, this time directed solely at Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature. I urge you to take no action on the revised Resolution and to let the matter end. Here’s why:
- The Resolution furthers a key legislative priority of the Libertarian Party of Collier County and Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance (SFCA), but not of the BCC. The Resolution was initially put forward by Jared Grifoni, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Collier County (LPCC), Peter Richter, Vice Chairman of the LPCC, and Keith Flaugh, who leads the Southwest Florida Citizen Alliance. Both groups are committed to stopping Common Core. In an August 2013 news release, the LPCC announced that it “condemn[ed] Common Core in the state of Florida and [called] for actions leading to its full repeal, including an immediate halt in implementation.” On its website, SFCA prominently lists “Stop Common Core” as a current initiative. You did not yourselves include “stopping Common Core” or “home rule” for Collier’s schools in your own 2015 Legislative Platform. By supporting this Resolution and unnecessarily aligning yourself with the priorities of these other groups, you detract from your own legislative priorities.
- The language in the Resolution is the type identified with ideologically-based groups. I submit that it is unnecessary and inappropriate for you to instruct the Florida Legislature and Governor about what the U.S. Constitution says.
- The Resolution is misleading, if not factually inaccurate. It cites the Florida Constitution, Article 9, Section 4b, as the basis for directing the Governor and Legislature to take action “to pass legislation that restores the control of standards, curriculum, and assessments to the local County School Districts.” However there is no mention of standards, curriculum or assessments in Article 9, Section 4b, which simply says:
The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.
I urge you to remain focused on the legislative priorities for Collier County that you so wisely identified previously. Leave interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution, and matters of educational policy, standards, curriculum and assessments to those whom we voters elected to represent us in those matters.
Open Letter to School Board Members Curatolo, Donalds, Lichter, Sprague, Terry
Re: 2/10/15 School Board Meeting Agenda Item 40: E90 Preliminary 2015 Florida Legislative Platform
Dear School Board Members,
Thank you to for wisely deciding at your last meeting not to consider a Resolution sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Collier County and the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance to ask the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott “to reclaim Florida’s educational sovereignty and return control of educational standards, curriculum, and student assessments to the local county school districts.” You correctly pointed out that the School Board had, following existing procedure, already adopted its 2015 legislative platform, and that it had also participated in developing the Florida School Boards Association’s legislative platform.
However I do not agree with the decision to bring back the previously-adopted 2015 legislative platform for discussion and am dismayed to see it on the agenda for this week’s meeting. Here’s why:
- It sets a bad precedent to reopen a previously-decided School Board matter simply because it was decided prior to the election of a newly-seated member. The School Board makes many decisions on an annual basis, including approval of its legislative platform. If you go forward with this discussion, on what basis will you decide which other previous decisions to reconsider before their time?
- It’s not as if you missed something other education experts thought was important. This matter was not included in the priorities of the Florida School Boards Association, the Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards, or the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. In fact, the Florida Education Association says on its website, “Common Core isn’t going to take away local control. The standards aren’t a curriculum which means that states and local districts still get to decide how they’ll meet the standards.”
- You should not align yourselves with a key legislative priority of the ideologically-based Libertarian Party of Collier County and Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance (SFCA). The Resolution you were asked to consider at your last meeting was put forward by Jared Grifoni, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Collier County (LPCC), Peter Richter, Vice Chairman of the LPCC, and Keith Flaugh, who leads the Southwest Florida Citizen Alliance. Both groups are committed to stopping Common Core. In an August 2013 news release, the LPCC announced that it “condemn[ed] Common Core in the state of Florida and [called] for actions leading to its full repeal, including an immediate halt in implementation.” On its website, SFCA prominently lists “Stop Common Core” as a current initiative. If you incorporate their concerns into your previously-adopted Legislative Platform, you will unnecessarily align yourself with the priorities of those organizations and detract from your own legislative priorities.
I urge you to take no action to revise your previously-adopted legislative platform.
Let your voice be heard before Tuesday’s meetings
Write to the five County Commissioners, the five School Board members (cc Superintendent Patton). Urge them to drop this matter and get on with the pressing business of the County and the School Board.
Commission Chair Tim Nance – TimNance@colliergov.net
Commissioner Donna Fiala – DonnaFiala@colliergov.net
Commissioner Tom Henning – TomHenning@colliergov.net
Commissioner Georgia Hiller – GeorgiaHiller@colliergov.net
Commissioner Penny Taylor – PennyTaylor@colliergov.net
School Board Chair Kathleen Curatolo – firstname.lastname@example.org
School Board Member Erika Donalds – email@example.com
School Board Member Kelly Lichter – firstname.lastname@example.org
School Board Vice-Chair Julie Sprague – email@example.com
School Board Member Roy Terry – firstname.lastname@example.org
School Superintendent Kamela Patton – Patton@collierschools.com
Note: This post was revised on March 7, 2015. The Resolution petitioning Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature was read into the record at the BCC meeting by LPCC Vice Chairman Peter Richter, not by LPCC Chairman Grifoni and Keith Flaugh.
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