PARKLAND, Fla. – A pair of Florida state senators are attempting to soothe citizens’ fears over Common Core, but their tactics may be making the situation worse.

falling down stairsFlorida Senate President Don Gaetz, a self-described conservative Republican, recently mocked critics of the new, nationalized learning standards as conspiracy theorists.

“You can’t dip (the Common Core standards) in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face,” Gaetz said last week, according to

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Somehow, we don’t think Gaetz’s strategy of belittling concerned parents and taxpayers is going to help him win the Common Core debate – or his next election.

But Gaetz isn’t the only Florida politician with a tin ear.

State Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Democrat, recently gave an interview to the Sun Sentinel in which he suggested Common Core critics are just confused about what the new standards will and won’t do.

“I think what’s been mistaken is Common Core still does allow for a lot of local control and a lot of local decision-making,” Ring said. “And I think the people that are opposed to Common Core for some reason think that the federal government is making all the decisions. That was (the George W. Bush administration’s) No Child Left Behind. I am fine with Common Core.”

Ring’s hearty endorsement of Common Core would be more convincing if his children weren’t attending a private school that is able to determine its own learning standards, regardless of what state officials decide.

Ring’s comments have a “Let them eat cake” quality that might rub some residents the wrong way.

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As for the substance of the state senators’ argument – namely that Common Core-aligned schools will still be under local control – we’ll say this: Local school boards, principals and teachers will still have “local control” over the lessons that are used in their classrooms, but they won’t have a say over which concepts their students are taught – or when those concepts will be taught.

Those decisions will be dictated to them by the authors and copyright holders of Common Core – two private organizations in Washington D.C. – and the standardized tests that are being developed by federally subsidized companies.

So, yes, public education will still contain a smidgen of local control under Common Core, but those local decisions will be about as meaningful as choosing between Coke and Pepsi.

That might be good enough for Ring and Gaetz, but we’re guessing that’s not going to be good enough for many Floridians.