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School District’s planner champions Common Core


Common Core State Standards are not popular with many in Indian River County. At least two School Board members are anti-Common Core, and board member Shawn Frost made elimination of the standards one of his planks while running for office in 2014.

Despite that, School Superintendent Mark Rendell last month hired Battelle for Kids, a company known as a Common Core advocate, to author the School District’s five-year strategic plan.

He took the action without School Board approval or revealing the company’s Common Core affiliations.

“This five-year plan is extremely important to me, but as co-founder of Florida Parents Against Common Core and FreedomWorks’ national adviser on eliminating Common Core, I would never have approved hiring this group,” said board member Laura Zorc.

“Battelle for Kids has deep ties to the Gates Foundation [which supports Common Core] . . . and they created a teacher evaluation method tied to Common Core assessments. The Common Core Standards, assessments and teacher evaluation method have stifled education across the country.”

In fact, Battelle for Kids was integral in instituting Common Core Standards in 30 states.

Ohio Representative Andy Thompson wrote December 2015, “One of the architects of this [Common Core State Standards Initiative] was/is Bill Gates, who has funneled money to a multitude of non-profits . . . Kids are merely ‘human capital’ according to Battelle for Kids, an Ohio-based think tank that received more than $25 million from Gates to help ‘train’ teachers in implementing Common Core. In its wake, this top-down, one-size-fits-all takeover of education has left students, parents, teachers and administrators overwhelmed by what amounts to a grand experiment on our kids.”

When Battelle was introduced to the School Board and public at a February meeting Rendell arranged, the superintendent did not give the board a copy of the district’s contract with Battelle or go over the framework he and Battelle had developed for creating the plan that will guide the School District for the next half a decade.

Battelle personnel declined to say when asked if they had developed strategic plans for other Florida districts – they have not – and would not provide out-of-state examples of their work.

Research reveals they developed strategic plans for Ohio schools that are each about 10 pages and contain generic goals such as “increase student achievement and growth” and “provide a safe environment for students, staff and stakeholders.”

Rendell can approve expenditures under $50,000 without the school board’s approval. The contract he signed with Battelle was for $48,410.