Barrington School Committee member Scott Fuller failed in his attempt to convince his colleagues on that board last Thursday night, Jan. 16, to back off from their unqualified support for the Common Core State Standards for the schools.
Fuller also said that he and other members of a Barrington-based citizens group, Stop Common Core RI, are not alone in their opposition to Common Core and that a fight over its implementation in Rhode Island has just begun.
Indeed, Fuller and Stop Common Core’s message to at least pause and do more study on Common Core may be getting a boost in the State House.
Rep. Gregg Amore of East Providence, a teacher at East Providence High School, submitted a bill (2014-H 7095) last week to “create a task force to evaluate the system so students, teachers, parents and administrators can – at the very least – fully understand the implications of the new system.”
“Until we have all the facts in front of us and know what we’re getting ourselves into, we should not be holding anyone accountable through this system,” said Amore. “No one has a clear picture of how much the Common Core objectives will cost our districts overall.”
The legislation has asked that a 20-member panel, including Education Commissioner Debra Gist or a designee, evaluate Common Core and the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers) assessment test that goes with it over the next year.
"I absolutely applaud his effort," said Fuller. "I invite him to join parents, teachers and taxpayers in our effort. We need sunshine. We need transparency. We need to know the costs and the impact on teachers and kids."
Fuller has already come up with a set of question on Common Core for the education commissioner and the Board of Education that he read into the record of the School Committee last Thursday night. Some of those questions:
- The Common Core itself calls itself a ‘living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Rhode Island State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself?
- Can Rhode Island voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Rhode Island’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of Common Core) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core?
- Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency so that the Rhode Island State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Rhode Island?
- Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Rhode Island teachers and parents before we add upcoming national science and social studies standards.
- Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?
- Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?
Fuller also asked three questions of the School Committee:
- How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools to you personally, and does Common Core affect local control in any way?
- Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally lauded Common Core standards and tests?
- How do you feel about the funding of Common Core: one unelected businessman, Bill Gates, funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks that advocate for it, partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base,” and has said that his goal if for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align?