Barrington School Board Backs Common Core, Critics Vow to Continue Fight

Jan 17, 2014

The Barrington School Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the Common Core standards, despite protests from some parents and teachers, who say the standards have serious flaws.

Pam Fuller, a Barrington resident whose husband is on the school committee, has been lobbying for a pause to consider concerns about the standards.

“This one cookie cutter fits everybody, I don’t think it meets the kids on the bottom and it certainly doesn’t meet the kids in the top,” Fuller said.

The Common Core is a national set of expectations for K-12 classrooms, which state officials have already started adopting in Rhode Island and 44 other states around the country. Federal education officials spurred a widespread embrace of the standards by making them a key requirement in the Federal Race to the Top grant competition. Rhode Island won a $75 million Race to the Top grant in 2011.

Supporters of the Common Core say the standards will improve public education by focusing on fewer concepts while promoting deeper learning. Critics, however, complain the standards ignore calculus at the high school level and increase the emphasis on nonfiction reading, among other concerns.

Nationally, a movement against the standards has been gathering strength, but, until recently, there was little public opposition in Rhode Island.

Fuller says she feels like the standards are being foisted on teachers and parents, and there is a need for more open debate.

“Like the way democracy is supposed to be. People come up, bring up their issues, if at the end of the process you still think Common Core is good, vote for it,” Fuller said.

School districts have little choice about whether to adopt the Common Core, since it is an initiative dictated by the State Department of Education. Still, groups have started popping up around the state to oppose the standards, organizing mainly through social media sites such as Facebook. Fuller says she is aware of organized opposition in Cumberland and Smithfield, in addition to Barrington.