The Barrington School Committee gave divided support to the continuing implementation of the suddenly controversial Common Core State Standards Thursday night, Jan. 16.
The vote was 4-1 in favor of a resolution reaffirming its support of continued implementation, which began several years ago.
The negative vote came from critic Scott Fuller, a Cumberland teacher and former administrator, who is actively involved in Stop Common Core RI, the small Barrington-based citizens group that is attempting to spark a statewide revolt against the standards already adopted by Rhode Island.
"This is going on around the country, not just Rhode Island," Fuller said.
Fuller favors the implementation of higher standards for student achievement, just not Common Core. He asked the School Committee to pause and take a much harder look at the standards and how they have come about without field testing before continuing their implementation.
“After extensive research, much thought and passion for education and this town, a crystal clear picture of how the CCSS was implemented and what the effects will be on our students, teachers and taxpayers,” said Fuller in a prepared statement, “I have come to the conclusion that the CCSS is bad for Barrington, bad for Rhode Island and bad for America.”
Fuller got support from about half a dozen other Barrington residents, including three who have launched the citizens group, Tad Segal, Amy Segal and Emily Connor.
Fuller’s and Stop Common Core RI’s message fell on deaf ears. They swayed no one else on the school board to step back and reject the resolution reaffirming Barrington’s support for the CCSS.
The most vigorous proponent on the School Committee of Common Core has always been Patrick Guida, a member of the RI Board of Education and a strong supporter of Debra Gist, RI’s commissioner of education, who pushed the standards in RI. Guida made the motion to adopt the resolution.
“We have been talking about this for a long time,” Guida said. “I’ve been following this process for about 10 years. I’m not saying they are the best they can be. But there will be a chance to revise them.”
“We’re certainly not dumbing down the community,” he said.
Paula Dominguez, who seconded the motion, said: “This is exactly what Barrington needs. Rhode IslandI is far from fine as we speak here. State standards are far from where they need to be. We need to be supporting implementation.”
Fuller’s and Stop Common Core’s primary opposition to the new standards revolves primarily around the lack of local control or participation in the process of creating and adopting the CCSS, and the fact that they have never been field tested.
“Are you willing to gamble the success Barrington has had on unproven, untested standards,” said Tad Segal.
Segal also said that the standards lack a sign-off by early childhood development experts who were not part of the educational and corporate experts who developed the standards to compete with other countries.
“They are seen as developmentally inappropriate for our youngest learners,” he said, because they are built around standardized tests.
“Before you take this vote, know that you have no control,” Segal added. “Your hands are tied.”
Laura Larrivee, who has a daughter at Primrose Hill School, said: “Why are you so eager to support the resolution. The standards have not been proven anywhere. I don’t understand what’s going on? We were fine.”
Susan Giordano, another parent, said: “We should be the leaders, not the followers. About 20 states are considering stopping or pausing. Many states are saying stop and think. Don’t rush to judgment. If we become like every other school system, why would people come here?”
Joel Hellman, a member of the Barrington Committee on Appropriations, said: “We will need a significant capital increase in computers to implement this. Combined with other new costs, such as all-day kindergarten, taxpayers can expect a budget increase of 5 percent."
Another parent said: “Why is the whole country acting like sheep. We also came here because of the schools. Why aren’t we letting Barrington continue the way it has been?”
Fuller said also that he was shocked when he noticed that the resolution was on the agenda two days ago.
“Why no discussion at the previous meeting? Who authorized it? I am disappointed that this was done in a rather sneaky way,” Fuller said.
School Committee Chair Kate Brody said she put the resolution, which she wrote, on the agenda “as an opportunity to affirm our commitment and support of Common Core," which was adopted in 2010 in Barrington and which has been the subject of several briefs and overview since that time by administrators.
“We’ve been having this conversation for some time,” she said. “This is a three-year-old decision to be part of CCSS. The focus of this resolution is to clarify any sense of confusion about where we stand.”