Rhode Island State Representative Gregg Amore (D-Dist.65, East Providence) submitted 2014-H 7095, a bill which would create a group of 21 members, including two parents of students enrolled in Rhode Island public schools, to examine Common Core standards and delay the new exams.
“I am not opposed to the concept of a ‘common core’ (lowercase ‘c’), and I would be willing to look at this specific Common Core if it had been vetted over a significant period of time and proven to improve learning and outcomes,” he told Breitbart News. “There is no evidence, research, or concrete data to support the implementation of these standards. The ironic part of this is that those in the most recent ‘education reform’ movement claim to be research and data driven… except of course in this case.”
“In short, the process was not transparent and the vast majority of Rhode Islanders are woefully uninformed,” Amore explained. “We took the money but we didn’t ask any questions, and we certainly didn’t read the fine print. The Rhode Island Dept. of Education began public informational meeting in October of 2013… three years after they adopted the standards. The full implementation began this year, and I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from concerned parents and teachers.”
On January 28, Amore and Barrington School Committee member Scott Fuller met with parents to provide them with another view of Common Core because the majority do not understand the standards.
The residents started a group called Stop Common Core RI and were present at the meeting. Tad Segal, one of the main organizers of the group, said the standards are not appropriate for young children, and have never been tested, which are the same concerns as Amore’s. Fuller said the math between kindergarten and fourth grade is an issue he hears a lot about from parents.
“I am tremendously concerned with the fact early childhood education experts were excluded from the group of 27 that developed these standards, and it is becoming apparent that the CCS early education math standards are developmentally inappropriate and that the sequencing makes little sense,” Amore said. “I have seen PARCC samples that are ridiculously complex, and I will never be convinced that these types of assessments prepare a student for college or career.”
Amore is a history teacher at East Providence High School and told Breitbart News Common Core will not solve the problems of public education.
“I have been opposed to the No Child Left Behind reforms since they were implemented,” he said. “Race to the Top and Common Core are an extension of the philosophy that is at the core of NCLB. It is a testing driven reform that aims to label schools, students, and teachers but does little to address the underlying problems in public education.”
“It narrows curriculum, teacher autonomy and local input,” he claimed. “It has succeeded in creating a false narrative that is widely accepted, which is that America’s public schools are failing. To the contrary, America’s public schools are performing very well in districts where the childhood poverty rate is at or below 10%. 24% of American children are living in poverty and chronic absenteeism is a major concern in urban districts all over the United States.”
“Children in these schools deal with crumbling infrastructure, high teacher turnover rates, and a whole host of other socio-economic issues that Common Core does not address,” Amore explained. “The stated goal of Common Core is to make U.S. students more competitive with their international counterparts. International comparisons are bunk. We are compared to homogeneous nations with very little childhood poverty. We are compared to countries with universal health care and pre-k which have both been proven to improve educational readiness and we have been compared to countries that don’t test all of their students.”
“The United States has never led the world in these international comparisons, but we have managed to lead the world in innovation and economic output nonetheless,” he stated
Once a state implements Common Core it is not allowed to make any changes. It may add 15% of its own content, but there cannot be any changes.
“This is not a ‘living, breathing document,’ what we have is what we get,” he said.
Amore and others do not like the fact that educators, parents, and students did not have any input on Common Core standards and were not consulted before the state chose to implement them. The government said a state cannot receive Race to the Top funds unless it adopts Common Core.
“In order to secure Race to the Top Funds, Rhode Island signed on to the Common Core and the PARCC. This decision was made in a time of extreme economic crisis and the RI Board of Regents, the RI Education Commissioner, and the Governor pushed this agenda,” he said. “There were Regents hearings (The members of the board are appointed by the Governor and approved by the RI Senate) about Race to the Top, but there has not been a full public hearing on Common Core.”
“Legislators never held hearings on Common Core and School Committees were not consulted,” Amore explained. “Most people have no idea what the Common Core is. The state’s teachers’ unions both accepted Common Core but are now reconsidering.”
Money is another issue with the standards, and the commission formed by the bill will study the costs of implementing Common Core along with projected costs and how much money districts are already spending preparing for the standards and tests.
“It is unprecedented for the RI General Assembly to insert itself into education policy, but there is a groundswell of support,” he said. “No one is quite sure how much the new testing will cost our state and districts. We have serious school infrastructure problems and we are ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on testing and the new technology that supports it. Many of our districts are unable to make that investment when there are other pressing needs.”
“That fact alone may push the bill to the floor… stay tuned,” Amore concluded.