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Politics

Will There Be an Anti-Common Core Assault on November's Election?

October 2, 2014 - 6:00pm

With the clock ticking down until the gubernatorial election, anti-Common Core groups from across the state are assessing where theyll be putting their votes on Nov. 4.

Earlier in the year, some anti-Common Core activists said theyd be skipping this years election to send a message to Gov. Rick Scott by withholding their votes. They feel he hasnt done his part in pumping the brakes on the standards.

While sitting out in November is still a very real option for opponents of the highly-criticized national education standards, it appears theres no real consensus on which way theyll vote come Election Day.

One group has pledged theyll be supporting Scott at the polls because theyve already developed a relationship with Gov. Rick Scott on the issue over the last two years. Co-founder of Florida Parents Against Common Core Laura Zorc told Sunshine State News that because her group already has a working relationship with Scott, it feels it would be going backward under the governorship of Charlie Crist.

We know with Charlie Crist, hes going to keep chugging ahead with Common Core, she said. We dont have any latitude with him that were aware of to make tweaks, make changes, adjust anything.

Zorc said she estimated 70 percent of the groups opposing Common Core -- which include tea party groups and Republican Executive Committee leaders -- agree they want to continue working with Scott on Common Core.

Other statewide groups have different plans in mind -- they intend to vote for Adrian Wyllie, the candidate they feel is best equipped to deal with the issue of Common Core in Florida.

Im not under any illusions that a third-party candidate might win, explained Chris Quackenbush, co-founder of Stop Common Core Florida, who told SSN she would likely vote for the Libertarian candidate in November. But its time for us to stand for whats right for the kids and stop pussyfooting around.

Quackenbush said a lot of her friends will also be supporting Wyllie at the polls.

Im tired of going for second best, holding my nose and voting just because hes [a Republican.] Im not doing that anymore, she said. Im voting for someone who is going to champion the important causes like Common Core ... Nuclear bombs could rain down and it wouldnt be as disastrous as destroying the hearts and minds of our children.

Theres a third option floating around: Dont vote for anyone at all.

President of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition Dr. Karen Effrem says she doesnt feel comfortable casting her vote for any of the candidates running for governor.

At this point, I dont feel that I can vote for either [candidate], she said. And while Adrian Wyllies position on Common Core is very good, I have concerns about him on other issues.

When it comes to the possibility of a Crist win, Effrem didnt seem too worried.

I dont really fear a Crist administration because I believe that on Common Core, he would be constrained by the Republican Legislature on the right and the teachers union on the left, she told SSN. He probably wouldnt do as much damage on Common Core.

But if a Scott win happens, Effrem expects much of the same.

If Rick Scott wins re-election, I dont believe hell do anything about Common Core, she said.

Effrem told SSN she was urging members of her group to get in touch with the governor over the next few weeks to remind him that this issue wont be going away anytime soon.

And those votes could matter -- even just a slight tip in voting numbers could rock the gubernatorial election. In 2010, Scott won by only 60,000 votes.

It really saddens me that its come down to this with the governor, she said. I hope he realizes it at the end and isnt so tied into Jeb Bush and that crowd that he's going to lose the [voter] base.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen via email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

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