Democracy in action! from the Tewksbury Town-Crier:
October 11, 2014 9:07 am
TEWKSBURY – By a vote of 82 to 51, Tewksbury passed a non-binding resolution to boot the Common Core State Standards out of town. The last matter of the eventful meeting, Article 17, engendered animated discussion, mostly in favor of the measure.
Article 17 sought to do away with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and associated testing known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Residents were up in arms over the issue, the majority expressing their concerns about the program, some vehemently.
One such resident is Ruth Chou, the article’s proponent, who remains adamantly opposed to the Common Core on the grounds that education of children in grades K-12 should not be mandated by the state but should be a decision made locally.
Confusion and anger around the issue swirled as residents came forward one after another to express their opinions. Some sought to quash the Common Core, others railed against the PARCC test and over-testing children in general. Many of the residents are against what they call a “one size fits all approach” feeling that their children will be educationally ‘short-changed’ and that CCSS is “moving education in the wrong direction.” As one resident put it, “Results are not guaranteed. People of Tewksbury deserve more than Common Core.”
Warren Carey spoke against the article, stating that a Town Hall Meeting was not the proper venue for the issue, that “This is not the place to work this out. Don’t come here where people don’t understand.” Instead he advocated for the proponents to put it on a ballot for the annual town election in April so that more residents could weigh in on the matter.
Questions around vague information added to the complexity of the issue. Where does Common Core come from? Who developed the curriculum and why?
Superintendent Dr. John O’Connor, spoke on the topic first, expressing his surprise and the School Committee’s surprise about the article being placed on the special town meeting warrant without any overtures to the board that sets educational policy in town. Further, he noted that under Massachusetts General Laws, town meeting has no authority over curriculum choice. That responsibility lies with the five-member school committee, all elected to serve three-year terms.
Assistant Superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan spoke later in the meeting. She has worked on the development of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, which incorporates Common Core standards, but goes further to maintain the high expectations Massachusetts currently demands. She stated that the MCAS test has outlived its usefulness, as it was not designed to assess college or career readiness. She added that the Common Core State Standards, developed in 2010, “are not a cookie cutter approach.” Further, the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks does include Science and History not just Math and English, despite some proponent’s comments to the contrary.
Resident Bob McKenna told the board, “I wish the school committee would consider what the parents are thinking.”
A standing vote found 82 in favor with 51 opposed to the slightly amended article. . . .