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Cerabino: Utah questions + Florida test = gay kids

Published May 24, 2014 12:14 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Palm Beach, Fla. • Standardized testing in Florida will turn your kid gay?

Seriously? Did somebody actually say this?

Just when you think that the stupidity landfill can't get any deeper in Florida when it comes to standardized testing, somebody drops a big load of "gay agenda" on the steaming pile.

And we're not talking about some lunatic ranting on a street corner into a cloud of bus fumes. No it's a Florida House member, the Honorable State Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Republican from North Florida's Clay County.

Van Zant told a group of standardized testing critics that he was very troubled that American Institutes for Research, the company that Florida hired to come up with the replacement for the FCAT, has a secret agenda to make kids gay.

"They are promoting as hard as they can to any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda," Van Zant said. "These people that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida unless this is stopped, will now promote double-mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can be."

Oh, my. We're going to need a bigger dump truck for this load.

But before addressing the buffoonery of Mr. Van Zant, it would be instructive to explain why Florida needs American Institutes for Research to develop its own standardized test in the first place.

You see, it wasn't long ago when Florida was one of the governing states in something called the PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Florida had a leadership role in a consortium of states developing a national test for the Common Core standards.

The idea for Common Core, a uniform expectation of achievement for grade-level learning, was championed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education and the bipartisan National Governor's Association.

The Obama administration belatedly endorsed it, and earmarked some federal funding to support it. That's when the trouble started.

Obama's endorsement created an incurable outbreak of nuttiness and paranoid fantasies from the usual suspects, who dubbed the national standards "Obama Core" and imagined all sorts of secret plots at work. "Obama Core is a comprehensive plan to dumb down schoolchildren so they will be obedient servants of the government and probably to indoctrinate them to accept the left-wing view of America and its history," wrote Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly.

What started out as a Republican idea had been magically transformed into a fiendish implementation of leftist ideology. (See Obamacare for another example.)

Naturally, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott joined the chorus by removing Florida from the PARCC, claiming that he couldn't abide by the "federal government's overreach" in a "state-level decision on academic standards."

So Florida created its own version of the Common Core, called the Florida Standards, which did little to placate the critics, who saw it as an adoption of the national standards wrapped in a new name.

This exercise in pandering to Obama haters caused Florida to hire American Institutes for Research for a $220 million, six-year contract to develop a new standardized test just for Florida students.

And that's not all. Florida's move out of the consortium put it in desperate need for test questions in the short run, so the state is paying Utah up to $5.4 million to borrow Utah test questions for Florida students.

That's right, to prove just how important it is for Florida students to be tested with a special test just for Florida, we're using test questions developed for Utah's schoolchildren.

Obamaphobia is a costly mental illness.

So by the time Van Zant weighed in with his testing-will-make-kids-gay charge, the saturation point for bad behavior on the standardized testing issue may have already been reached.

Van Zant is worked up about American Institutes for Research's unrelated work in developing services for schools that request guidance in handling bullying situations involving kids over their sexual orientation. The company offers schools guidance, if requested, on creating a "welcoming environment" for all children, regardless of their sexual orientation.

For an elected leader to create a sinister fantasy over protecting children — theoretically the children of his own constituents — from being ostracized and bullied at school is appalling.

But then again, Van Zant's got plenty of cover. Appalling has already become the norm on this subject.

Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.





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