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Charlie Crist Hits a Nerve of Anti-Common Core Movement

November 18, 2013 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Charlie Crist has been hitting the campaign trail hard lately, all while knocking Gov. Rick Scotts record along the way. One of Crists harshest criticisms of Scott is on education -- the former governor attacked Scott for cutting education by $1.3 billion during his time in office.

But Crists attacks on the governor and his education policies began well before he officially declared his intent to run for his old job.

In an op-ed piece published in the Tampa Bay Times in September, Crist criticized Scott for being on the fence over Common Core State Standards.

These standards have been adopted by 45 states and will allow our children to be equal to their peers nationally, wrote Crist. Further, these standards -- which cover language arts and math -- are much more in-depth than the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test and our own Sunshine State standards.

But Crist took a shot not only at Scott, but at opponents of the education standards as well, dismissing them as "outliers" who are more concerned that the standards were finalized under President Barack Obama.

Tea party and other outliers have called for a rejection of these standards because they were promulgated under the umbrella of a national effort," he wrote. Truth be told, their opposition probably has less to do with education than the fact the standards, started under President George W. Bush, were finalized while President Barack Obama was in office. This is a nonsensical reason to reject them.

The standards have drawn considerable criticism from opposition groups who have expressed concerns over the overall quality of the standards, government overreach and the possibility of data mining.

And the opposition is growing. Several groups across the state are challenging the standards. The groups are composed of parents, teachers and members of the public, but opponents are lining up on both sides -- both liberal and conservative.

You want to blame a specific group and vilify them and call them names rather than answer their objections, said Chris Quackenbush of Stop Common Core Florida, a grassroots organization opposed to Common Core State Standards. Theres opposition coming from the left and right. Its definitely across the board.Teachers across Florida are joining in the opposition against Common Core, too. One group in particular, left-wing Badass Teachers Association (BAT), is comprised of over 25,000 members who are speaking out against the national education standards.

Its not just the tea party thats skeptical of the Common Core, Bonnie Cunard, a Fort Myers teacher who manages the Facebook page for the 1,200 Florida BATs, told the Miami Herald. We on the left, like the folks on the right, are saying we want local control.

The mission of the BATs is to reduce excess testing, increase teacher autonomy and include teacher-family voices in legislative processes that affect students. BATs fear that the math and language arts standards might not be appropriate for younger students. They also have concerns over high stakes testing associated with Common Core.

The BATs have joined forces with other groups in the state who want Florida to take a step back on the education standards.

Quackenbush told Sunshine State News the opposition will continue to keep growing.

The more people find out about Common Core and the damage its doing to our children ... the worse it is. Theres no way they can put us all into one box and say Those are the tin-hat Republican weirdos.

She also added that with so many groups objecting to the standards, they will continue to be persistent in their opposition and it will be difficult to stop their voices from being heard.

We cant be vilified as one group and we cant be stopped as one group might be ... every kind of group imaginable is talking about Common Core because theyre experiencing it firsthand.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atAllison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

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