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Fact-Checking Common Core Attacks


State education officials hit the road last week to hear what Floridians had to say about new education standards known as Common Core.

And boy, did they get an earful.

Attacks on Common Core during these hearings ranged from the ridiculous -- calling the standards "Communist Core" -- to the serious -- that teachers haven't been involved at all in creating the standards.

"Politifact" decided to check out the Common Core attacks, according to Editor Angie Holan, because "the most inaccurate things we heard were coming from the opponents of Common Core. So we wanted to fact-check the things we knew were distorting the facts."

Among the charges made against Common Core was that teachers have not been involved in creating the new educations standards.

"We rated that one false," said Holan. "We talked to a couple of teachers who were involved with developing the standards. And there are public records that show Florida teachers were asked for their comments on the standards in the very early part of the process back in 2009.  So teachers have been involved."

At the Tampa Common Core hearing, Tea Party activist Tim Curtis claimed that Common Core "means there are over 300 data elements the government is going to be collecting about our children and about you."

Holan said PolitiFact ruled that charge mostly false.

"This one is kind of interesting," Holan explained. "The government is already collecting data elements on you and your children. What happens is school districts at the local level collect a lot of information about students -- their names, their grades, their race, the school buses they go on. And that's information local officials use to make decisions. Now some of this data they send to the federal government, but the data is stripped of personally identifiable information. There's actually a law that says they can't create a database that has all the students' personal information in it."

And, finally,  the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition is charging that the overall goal of Common Core is "to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students, including political and religious beliefs."

"We rated this one Pants on Fire," said Holan. "The federal government was not involved in creating Common Core. This is something that came about because of discussions between state education officials and private, non-profit foundations that want to see the national education system improved. So the federal government has had an indirect role, at best, in the Common Core."

"And, again, the Common Core are standards that all students are supposed to meet. Then, how do you get to those standards? The local school officials still make the decisions about what books to read, about what the daily lesson plan should be like. So this statement is wrong on several levels. And when we asked for evidence, we were really not pointed to anything."