Parents expressed concern last night about the Regional School Committee’s knowledge of Common Core issues. What ended up front and center again was frustration over school committee communication practices. And again, the school committee pointed to Open Meeting Law as responsible for stifling discussion.
During Audience Sharing at the meeting, a Northborough mother presented a petition with 366 signatures from Northborough and Southborough (purportedly captured within “a few short days by a handful of people”).
The petition calls for a pro/con forum to be held on the Common Core by the last day of school and for available committee members to attend. (Click on petition to the right for the full text.)
Lynn Minasian-Somers explained that the petition’s purpose was to educate committee members who are responsible for implementing school policies:
I am asking you to be educated about this issue. That’s all I’m asking you to do, please! The pros and the cons. It is not a simple issue, It’s not a bipartisan issue, it is the future of education in our town, in our state, and in our country.
Chair Kathleen Harrigan refused to discuss the petition or topic last night. The chair claimed that since the item wasn’t on the agenda, Open Meeting Laws prevented a discussion.
John O’Mara asked if it was possible to add the item to next month’s agenda, Harrigan responded that they would take the suggestion. But she clarified that it’s up to her and Superintendent Christine Johnson to decide whether or when to add it to an agenda.
In answer as to when they would know if something was on the agenda, Harrigan answered, “When the agenda comes out.” She followed that the agenda is posted at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
Asked to add the item to the agenda, Harrigan deferred that to later in the meeting, giving the audience no indication at that time of whether she would support it or not.
O’Mara continued to try to get the pulse of the committee. He said that in the past the committee had been in favor of holding a forum. Now there is very little time left in the school year:
But we’re trying to get a sense: Are you with us, the idea of a free and fair exchange? Or is this going to be kicked down the road, so we lose this opportunity and it will be another year before we even discuss it?
Some members backed Harrigan’s stance, while most remained quiet. One member, Barbara O’Mara, asked to address the petition and questioned the policy. The practice of how to handle audience sharing issues and who has authority over the agenda was discussed and debated among school committee members. (Discussion covered Robert’s Rules of Order, committee policy, and Open Meeting Law.)
As a point of order, Harrigan did tell audience members that the committee had decided that Common Core education should be addressed by the Curriculum Advisory Committee. She said the subcommittee had been working on that all year and meetings were publicly shared. (Later, Johnson invited the public to that final meeting of the year, this afternoon at 3:30 pm at Algonquin. Department of Education speakers will address how Common Core fits in the Mass curriculum.)
Barbara O’Mara rebutted that those meetings aren’t a pro/con discussion.
Minasian-Somers said that she hopes to hold a public forum at the Northborough Library on Saturday, June 20th. She has two speakers in mind and would be happy to hear suggestions for more speakers.
Later, during next month’s agenda discussion, Harrigan and Johnson emphasized that June’s meeting would be a very full agenda. Member Joan Frank suggested that the Common Core forum be scheduled outside the committee meeting, as when Johnson held MCAS forums. She suggested that it be considered for next year.
Member Dan Kolenda supported a forum outside of the committee. Kolenda said that since the committee Common Core dictates are outside of their purvue. He said everyone could be encouraged to attend forums like the one proposed at the library.
Member David Reuger asked if they should put the discussion on next month’s agenda. Harrigan said they could. Member Paul Butka suggested the Curriculum Advisory Committee could present to the committee their work to date.
Johnson said that they were “definitely good ideas and worth conversation at the appropriate time.”
The superintendent qualified that before holding a forum, she needs clarification about the purpose. She explained that
Common Core is a generically applied term to reference many aspects that are not at the heart of what the Common Core is when it comes down to the implementation of the Common Core as it applies to curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
She said that the term is used different ways. Internally, educators use it to refer to what is embedded in the curriculum frameworks. If parents are talking about issues like data acquisition, they may walk away frustrated.
Without clarification of whether or not it would be on next month’s agenda, the meeting was adjourned.
Updated (5/21/15 2:26 pm): I had incorrectly written that Paul Butka suggested an update by the Policy Review Committee.
Am I wrong, or am I misreading or not getting all the facts? I was not there so I dont want to break the rules and throw barbs but Mrs. Harrigan sounds like an arrogant board member? Why couldn’t she just say ti is important and yes we can talk about that and yes we will get it out to the community well in advance. For more real information on Common Core and all the anti American, anti white, anti constitutional, anti christian, pro the rest of the world material in Common Core just go to glennbeck.com Glen has spent the past 5 years preaching about the evil in the Common Core agenda. Most people dont have the time but it is worth the look.
I was also not at this meeting, but from this write up, it sounds like the School Committee (or some part thereof) really isn’t trying to work with concerned parents. An invitation to a 3:30 pm meeting? That isn’t going to work for many working parents. Suggestion to take this up “next year”? If there is confusion about something as basic as what is meant by “Common Core” why not work with parents in a cooperative fashion to clarify the issues and get this on the appropriate agenda? I know Ms. Harrigan personally. She is a dedicated, thoughtful, intelligent public servant. One on one, she is approachable, respectful and courteous. As a former member of an elected Board (Library Trustees), I understand the Open Meeting Law restricts discussion to what was posted on the Agenda and state law, I am sure, operates to restrict the School Committee’s actions in ways I don’t know. But there is no state law against exhibiting a more cooperative and welcoming attitude! The “optics” here look bad. Communication issues lead to charges of obstruction (from the Advisory Board) and a public showdown a few years ago that did not go well. I don’t understand why the School Committee, year after year, doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that to some of us, they seem arrogant and obstructionist.
I find the last sentence of Mike’s comment above entirely offensive, and I have real concerns about Common Core too. This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue. It’s a concern about making sure individual students gets what they need, and are able to be the best they can be. Nothing I hear about Common Core so far makes me think it will do that. More information on both sides of the argument would be great.
This is yet another example of the School Committees (K8 and Regional) thinking that they are somehow above the public and can avoid answering to the public in public session.
It is simply false that the Open Meeting law would prohibit discussion of a topic that arises as a result of an audience member introducing it. The only topics that may not be deliberated are ones which the Chair has reasonable knowledge of prior to the meeting. This rule prohibits a Committee from surreptitiously planning to discuss a topic but hiding that fact. If a topic arises unplanned, there is no prohibition on discussion. So, this is simply a subterfuge by the Chair. This is also perfectly clear from the fact that she didn’t say, “Of course, I will put this on the agenda for the next meeting. We’ll look forward to hearing from you then.” Whatever lame excuse they make about Open Meeting law, there is no excuse for not offering that answer.
Why can’t our School Committees simply listen and interact with members of the public like every other board and committee? They somehow think they are too important, and above the need for such interaction.
School committee members are elected, are they not? Perhaps if the current members are not willing to work cooperatively and collaboratively with parents and other concerned citizens, we need to elect new ones.
The current chair was just reelected after running unopposed. It takes more than voting to change who is on the committee. It takes other people willing to step up and do the work. And, in Harrigan’s defense, as pointed out in another comment, she puts in a lot of time working for the regional, K-8 and subcommittees for the schools.
Agreed, Beth. It does take people who are willing to step up and do the work. Further I should have prefaced my comment by saying that I was not there and have only what is written here to go on, then clarified that if Ms. Harrigan had replied with something like what John Butler wrote above, I would not have had any concerns.
I am grateful to those who do put in the time and effort to ensure that our children continue to receive the quality education that brought us to Northboro 17 years ago. I think it is important that parents are part of the process, though, and the open discussion being requested is part of that.
JCM, My apologies, I was simply pointing out many of the biases now intertwined in the Common Core agenda, many of which I mentioned above, but I really left out some very offensive topics as well. My point was simply many think Glenn Beck is a nut ( and many think I am as well, but I really dont care), but if you listen to him and follow his thinking through he is really a visionary and very intelligent (unfortunately he also struggles with Manic Depression). He or we may not agree on all points together but I see in this thread many concerned parents and the Common Core curriculum is not forthcoming and it appears Harrigan is not as well. Perhaps Mrs. Harrigan is but it just appears to be allusive and aloof. Many say she is not so that is good as well. What are your concerns with CC JCM, you did not say? You just chose one line that you deemed offensive to you. Keep in mind life is offensive but freedom gives you the choice to voice your concerns as well but you chose not to. I would like to hear them. And perhaps use your entire name without abbreviations?
I certainly was under no illusion that anything has changed in the way the school committee operates. One member ran on changing this mode of operation. One can only mark that down as compete failure to keep a campaign promise.
To bad this happened after election day. Maybe more people will start writing their own names in as a protest vote to unopposed school committee members. The hope being that potential candidates take notice and run.
It seems our elected officials don’t truly understand the Open Meeting Law and/or are trying to hide behind it to evade controversial topics. I think every single board, committee, and commission member needs to sit in the Trottier Middle School auditorium and have the Attorney General – enforcer of OML – give a detailed overview on the law. Ms. Healey will provide in person trainings for FREE. According to page 20 of the OML Guide, “The Attorney General offers periodic webinars and in-person regional training events for members of the public and public bodies, in addition to offering a free online training video.” http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/attorney-generals-open-meeting-law-guide.html
You were a member of both the regional and Southborough school committees, and the “no public dialogue” policy dates back to your tenure, maybe before. You’re taking a strong “transparency” stance now–where were you then?
Ms. Aselbekian can answer for herself, but this anonymous comment is simply an attempt to keep the status quo. Ms. Aselbekian has been off the Committee for some time, but, instead of criticizing her, we should praise her and encourage current Committee members to change their minds, to flip-flop, to recognize the error of refusing to talk to the public in public meetings.
The Chair’s own attempt to hide behind a false statement of the law actually reflects a recognition that the policy is an embarrassment that should not be described in the light of day. Otherwise, the Chair could just have said, “This Committee doesn’t talk to the public.” Faced with 300+ signatures on a petition from citizens, the policy is too embarrassing to present candidly. So, invent phony legal mumbo jumbo to hide it.
Kudos to Ms. Aselbekian. I wish there were more like her, willing to speak up against this disrespectful and pompous practice of the School Committees.
If you’re a Governor or Senator running for President of the United States you must be willing to speak to the public, but if you’re on the Southborough School Committee you’re above that, your public meetings are too important to engage with mere citizens who take the time to attend.
Here we go again with the blind accusations by anonymous posters. As I offer with every anonymous critic of mine, please give me a call. I’m more than willing to discuss my past record and my stance on any political issues in Town. In fact, if you would like more of my “take on the issues” please visit my new local political blog: http://EyesOnSouthborough.com. On my political blog, I provide my own commentary on the issues. You see, people actually do appreciate and enjoy my candor. On my blog, however, if you want to comment, you must identify yourself with a full name. If I don’t know you, I’ll check to see you are real and actually exist before any comment is posted.
Let’s get back to the topic at hand. You clearly did not attend the same meetings I did from 1999 to 2005 during my tenure on the Regional and K-8 school committees. I became chair of the Regional school committee in 2001, if I recall correctly (I’d have to confirm with the Town Clerk’s office). The first order of business I can remember instituting was moving “audience sharing” to the front end of the agenda. Why have people “share” at the end of the meeting. Additionally, if people wanted to talk about topics on the agenda, I always allowed them to comment during the posted item time to have a dialogue.
You may not recall, but I do clear as day, the issues facing our Communities during my tenure on both school committees. There was a school building boom, and the ARHS project was at the center of the debate. While I was only 18 years old at the beginning of my tenure, I’m confident I took then and still take criticism very well. There was no blog that people could anonymously spew hate towards me; instead, I took it to my face. Perhaps you, Mr./Ms. Curious, were one of the many people who phoned me just to yell at me, called me hideous names to my face during public meetings, and scrutinized every decision the Regional School Committee made at the time. I always say, that’s par for the course. It’s what to be expected when you are an elected official, particularly during a very politically divided time. I made decisions I thought were right for our Communities, and I don’t regret any of it. I take pride in my continuous commitment to Southborough. Algonquin is a beautiful, functional, top-ranking school that children from two Towns attend. While I don’t have children and never will, I feel education is a top priority. It certainly keeps my property values high. I’m very proud to be an ARHS grad and one piece of the puzzle that preserved regionalization.
While people may not have liked the politics of the debate, there was never ever a time when I stifled public comments. That goes against everything I believe in. I fielded phone calls, put items on the agenda, worked with the superintendent on specific family concerns, and was even the school committee liaison to the APTO. This was all, by the way, while I was in college, graduate school, and my first year of law school. So, again, Curious, I have no idea what you are referring to nor quite frankly do I care. I don’t hold elected office at this time, and I don’t feel I owe an anonymous hater any more of my time. The current members of the school committee, however, do owe the public their time and consideration of relevant political topics of the day. If common core is that much of a hot topic, instead of preventing discussion, the school committee should welcome it. When you allow the free flow of ideas, people tend to respect the decision made even if they don’t agree with it.
Before you decide to press “submit” on a reply to my statement, just know, I’m on to you. I’m not going to continue to allow my good name to be tarnished by anonymous posters on this blog who don’t have the courage to confront me to my face. Instead of sitting behind a computer, get some guts, come out of hiding, and stand by your position. People may not agree with me, but everyone in our Community knows where I stand, because I put my name to everything I stand for! I believe wholeheartedly in questioning our government. That’s what my new blog is about, that’s why I physically attend meetings, and that’s why I stay informed with the facts. I do take exception to not identifying yourself. Like me or hate me, that’s your prerogative, but what you see is what you get.
Sick and tired of anonymity,
Well said Desiree
He’s right Desiree. Well said.
Thank you Desiree for your post. You made a number very valid points about anonymous posts. Anonymous posts are often associated with regular citizens “blowing the whistle” on some wrongdoing anonymously because they fear retaliation if their identities are known. Well the realty is that anonymous posts have become vehicles for parties to spread falsehoods about others. It’s also a great device for unscrupulous government officials to attack or smear individuals who question their actions. To these individuals, I say this: the First Amendment does not protect defamatory speech and you will be exposed sooner or later, and when you’re exposed, be prepared to pay financially, especially if you’re a government official who has posted anonymous posts to spread falsehoods about people who dared to challenge you.
Very well said.
Why does anonymity matter? Oh I know, because you want to be able to retaliate is the only answer. I promise that it was not a bot that created that comment, the person is surely real, and no one would be commenting on this blog if they did not have some interest in this town.
What the previous anonymous poster wrote wasn’t all the controversially written. If you disagreed with the point or wanted to answer the question you could have done simply and politely, but your defensiveness leads me to believe that there must be some truth to it and discredits everything you wrote that follows.
Sincerely and happily Anonymous
After reading this article, I went to the Attorney Generals FAQ site for open meetings… specifically notices. In summary, the Attorney General strongly encourages public bodies to postpone discussion and action (i.e., voting) on controversial topics if those topics were not listed in the meeting agenda. It’s noted below, and I’ve attached the link:
May a public body consider a topic at a meeting that was not listed in the meeting notice?
Yes, if it is a topic that the chair did not reasonably anticipate 48 hours before the meeting. If a meeting topic is proposed after the meeting notice is posted, the public body is encouraged to update its posting to provide the public with as much notice as possible of what subjects will be discussed during a meeting. Although a public body may consider a topic that was not listed in the meeting notice if unanticipated, the Attorney General strongly encourages public bodies to postpone discussion and action on topics that are controversial or may be of particular interest to the public if those topics were not listed in the meeting notice.
When I reviewed Mass General Laws Chapter 30A, Section 20, it clearly defines the law around notices, but doesn’t provide the type of information the FAQ’s do.
So in summary, at least from my understanding, the best practice is for a committee to postpone discussion of a controversial issue until the public receives adaquate notice.
If anyone disagress with my understanding of this issue, I’d appreciate any additional information you may have.
As a final note; If a member of the public has an issue or concern that they believe the school committee should be handling, they should contact the Superintendant or Chair, express their concern, and ask to be added to the agenda. My sincere belief is that they will be treated with respect and their concern will be carefully considered.
Southborough K-8 School Committee
Ms. Capra I respectfully disagree with your selective presentation of the law and with your “final note”. You neglected to include a few paragraphs below, in the cited AG statement, where it explicitly authorizes open discussion of unanticipated topics with the public as follows: “Q: May our public body list a section for ‘New Business’ to cover topics which come up for the first time at the meeting in the meeting notice? A: Yes, this category may be used for topics that the Chair did not reasonably anticipate for discussion when filing the meeting notice to be posted. Some public bodies use this to category for their public comment or open forum periods. The best practice would be to explicitly state in the notice that the time is being reserved for topics that the chair did not reasonably anticipate would be discussed.” The title of the agenda item “Audience: Sharing” is close to the “best practice” in that it is quite clear that under this agenda item are matters that the Chair did not anticipate, that originate with the audience. Thus, “discussion” is explicitly permitted by the AG statement. The Chair’s claim that unanticipated topics cannot be discussed is simply false.
However, the claim was also unnecessary. The public should know that although the Open Meeting Law permits it does not require discussion of topics raised by the public. The Chair could have just said “No.” In fact, at K8 Committee meetings, as a matter of policy, no discussion with the public takes place. So there is no need, at K8 Committee Meetings, for any attempt to hide behind a false statement of the law. And, of course, the real desire to avoid the public discussion at a Regional Meeting was shown by the Chair not promptly offering to schedule the topic on the next agenda.
Regarding your “final note” if you believe that refusing to discuss topics with members of the public at K8 School Committee meetings is “treating them with respect”, I disagree. Such refusal has been K8 School Committee policy. I think it is disrespectful to refuse to talk to the members of the public at public meetings. No other Committee seems to believe that such a policy would be respectful toward the public, as no other Committee behaves this way.
Lastly I have no doubt that if the School Committees were to listen and discuss topics with the public they would occasionally find themselves faced with odious views presented in angry form. Certainly the Selectmen are regularly treated to such unpleasantness, and many other boards live with this risk as well. The point is, in my view, it is simply the duty of public officials to tolerate and manage such interactions, to hear and exchange views with the public, not to hide in some imagined lofty chamber away from pubic interaction. It is a basic sign of respect that, in a democracy, public officials, in public forums, interact with citizens. In my view, a consistent refusal to do so is disrespectful.
(Although the Advisory Committee has not arisen as a topic in this discussion, as a member of that Committee I point out that the views presented here are mine, not those of the Committee.)
Just to clarify: the petition presented was to ask the school committee members to educate themselves on the BOTH sides of the issue. Our school committee can not make the best decision for our schools without knowing all sides of the issue. Also, I miss spoke when I said this was not a bi-partisan. This is NOT a partisan issue but it IS a bipartisan concern.
In seven states and DC, Teach Plus actively promotes both CCSS implementation and the message to “opt in” with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. Teach Plus has a survey showing that Massachusetts teachers want PARCC over the state MCAS. This is a Gates funded organization; Mitchell Chester is using this information to make decisions about PARCC. Parents need to speak up .
As an attendee at the May 20th regional school committee meeting, I was shocked to witness the Chair’s reaction to the Petition presented by a concerned citizen. The Petition was respectful, non-adversarial and simply asked if Committee members would be willing to attend a Pro/Con discussion of the controversial Common Core issue. (See petition above.) Since Committee members have indicated a low level knowledge, the program would be presented for their benefit. So, why the need to obfuscate with parliamentary diversion and blatant stonewalling? It ain’t over.
Not sure how long you have been here, but this was simply SOP for the school committee. Sit them down, shut them up and site the law – no matter how far off they are from the sprite if not the letter of OML That procedure needs to change. Glad to hear you say, “It ain’t over.”
I was one of the concerned citizens who signed the petition to have an open pro/con discussion about Common Core. It has serious and long ranging consequences. The reaction by the school committee gives me even greater pause and reinforces my beleif that Common Core is being forced upon us by the political class by way of big governement hand outs that benefit a few and result in the dumming down of our children.
The public needs to reseach how Common Core fails to stretch our studnets to achive more and boasts better resutls based on lower standards. Massachusetts’ education consistently places better than most states and if anything the government should be pushing for is our system to be duplicated and funded. People do the reseach and then demand that the school committees hear your concerns. Get involved!
While I support the ability of the public to ask for items to be placed on the school committee agenda, I will admit that I am puzzled by what this group is trying to accomplish. Common Core is a mandate and the schools must implement it – its not optional. The school committee didn’t make the law. There is no purpose for a discussion of pros and cons at the school committee. If you disagree with the law, it seems the way to change it is through your congressmen.
Your comment that Common Core is mandated and is not optional begs the question, “What if CC turns out to be a bad experience and Massachusetts’ world-class record of student is seriously degraded?” Of course the school committee didn’t make the law but it doesn’t absolve them, as policy makers, to be knowledgeable about it.
You further state that if there is disagreement with the mandate, we should seek change through our legislators – there’s no need for a Pro/Con discussion. To influence legislators, it takes a large number of citizen voters to precipitate change. If our own SC members admit to a low level of CC knowledge, should we expect the average citizen to be better informed and in a position to request legislative action? Hence the importance an educational, Pro/Con discussion where we can all learn about this important and controversial subject. What’s the downside?
Ooops. Corrected version of my 5:46 pm post follows
Your comment that Common Core is mandated and is not optional begs the question, “What if CC turns out to be a bad experience and Massachusetts’ world-class record of student achievement is seriously degraded?” Of course the school committee didn’t make the law but it doesn’t absolve them, as policy makers, to be knowledgeable about it.
You further state that if there is disagreement with the mandate, we should seek change through our legislators – there’s no need for a Pro/Con discussion. To influence legislators, it takes a large number of citizen voters to precipitate change. If our own SC members admit to a low level of CC knowledge, should we expect the average citizen to be better informed and in a position to request legislative action? Hence the importance of an educational, Pro/Con discussion where we can all learn about this important and controversial subject. What’s the downside?
If I may, John: To Resident’s comment, Common Core is a mandate only in that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Obama Administration and the Governors and Commissioners of each State, basically saying that if those two people, on behalf of their state, accept the federal offering, then they would have to agree to implement CC. There were no state legislatures involved, no mandates from Congress – none of that, just an “MOU”… Now, if that justifies a mandate, then I see no further reason for us to fund a whole branch of government, since we don’t need them to legislate mandates. But back to the real issue:
Common Core is a violation of our rights to make our own decisions with respect to how we educate our children. The School Committee is the town’s authority on curriculum and testing. CC is designed to take that away and simply make the committee into agents of oversight to ensure that CC is implemented to federal standards. If we close our eyes to this and stay ignorant to the law – the REAL law, then CC will be the “understood” law and more than just an agreement between two parties that, within just two more years, won’t even be in office (laughably enough, making the MOU null and void)!
I attended the school committee meeting and was surprised at the adverseness some of the school committee members had to becoming educated. Education is Power and there clearly was very little desire for some members of the School Committee to learn more about the concerns of the citizens. No one was asking you to change anything other than your own education. What a poor message to send to the people who elected you.
This has been Standard Operating Procedure for at least a decade. If you want to change it there is only one solution. Change the members of the School Committee.
I can’t remember the last time there was a contested School Committee election.
Common Core was implemented without input form Teachers, parents, School Committees or legislators. No community discussions was held. I applaud the citizens who have brought this petition forward to simple ask for their School Committee memebrs and the public to be educated on the most important educational policy in our lifetime.
Common Core was adopted by School Committees before they had laid eyes on it. Common Core has little to do with improvement to MCAS and everything to do with the obscene amassing of power, control and wealth by the this unholy alliance of educrats and testing companies.
The apathy of Massachusetts towards Common Core is in stark contrast to New York which is in active statewide revolt. Wake up citizens. Arm yourselves with information and demand that your elected officials do the same before its too late.
Kudos to the Northboro/Southboro parents/residents for your recent petition. “It ain’t over”…Keep it up! Our town hosted an informational forum about CC last March 2014 – to the chagrin of our Superintendent. In fact it was two Selectmen went to bat for the parents/organizers so we could hold a forum in a school building (paid for by taxpayers). Over 200 parents fro 18 communities joined the half-parents who hosted this forum to begin to learn about CCSS, including 4 of 5 school cmte members and our selectmen (our supt and the school cmte chair did not to attend).
For those of you who are just joining the conversation — the below documentary is a great backdrop/overview of how CCSS came into play…(try to ignore the dramatic music!) THIS IS THE TIME – we have only another month left to make an impact in MA….parents and educators need to become informed about these sweeping changes to education (and if you think nothing has changed, just ask the teachers about their evidence binders, inordinate amount of data collection, test prep, RETELL, and on & on…).
4 minutes ago
The DESE continues to assert their preposterous and fraudulent position that they are still undecided about whether or not they will support PARCC. They would have the public believe that having Mitchell Chester serving as both the DESE Commissioner as well as the Chairman of the Governing Board of PARCC is not an inherent conflict of interest. They fail to mention that Mitchell Chester has also acknowledged that he is the President and Director of PARCC, Inc. Do they really expect the public to believe that PARCC would have Chester serve in this capacity if he weren’t a kool-aid drinking fanatic supporter of PARCC? This kind of behavior in the private sector would give rise to calls for anti-trust and RICO investigations. I continue to be thoroughly disappointed by the lack of scrutiny on the part of investigative journalists regarding this topic given the hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars at stake, not to mention the very future of Public K-12 education.
Surely there is a way to promote more effective two way communication between school committee and the community whether it is about CC or another topic of relevance. I would just like to remind everyone of the Northborough Southborough school districts’ own Vision 2020 initiative. Among other things, it lays out a vision statement and conveys values and goals in several areas. A central one is communication. Rereading the PowerPoint document of this district plan in the context of this discussion highlights that there is room for improvement towards the goals of this effort with respect to communication with the community. The sections on communication on pages 14-18 in particular are relevant to this discussion. School committee may not wish to feel blindsided or feel a loss of control over the structure of their meetings. There is a much greater risk in stifling involvement from others who also care about our schools.
Link to Vision 2020:
Look at the Board of Directors for PARCC. It’s a who’s who of who was behind Common Core. Now they’re all working for the company that’s going to profit from the tests.
Is the school committee’s B.S. radar working?
You Are Invited … Parents, grandparents and concerned citizens
If you are interested in learning more about Common Core, a panel discussion will be held Saturday, June 20, 2015, 10:30 am – noon at the Northborough Free Library, 34 Main Street. Confirmed speakers include Sandra Stotsky, ELA standards expert and Jamie Gass, Pioneer Institute http://pioneerinstitute.org/
As a public service, admission is free and open to the public
Just a small heads up in the interest of clarity. The Pioneer Institute isn’t a neutral party. As they say on their own website: “Since 2009, Pioneer has led the campaign against Common Core national education standards.”
From a more personal perspective, I’d encourage people to approach common core with an open mind. I’ve seen many times people get upset with common core because it’s different from how they were taught. We need to look at what is best for kids today, and try to look at changes not as an attack on how we learned, but as a step in the process of improving education.
I had an open mind when we configured the K-8 schools as we have them now. We were all told “we can always change if we have too many schools.”
I had a slightly less open mind when we were told at no so long ago TM by the fomer superintendent that the teachers contract “had just a little increase in salary.” Teachers salaries quickly rose to an average of $80K (that’s K-8 – not the HS)
My mind started to close to the educational elite (local, state and federal ….what’s the difference?), when a simple question at a School Committee meeting (“Why are our per student cost so much higher then a neighboring town”) was treated as if it were an insult to the entire committee.
So my mind is closed to any educational elite program being rammed down our throats with the usual argument “it’s for the children.”
The parents and concerned citizens who signed the Petition are expecting a Pro/Con discussion of Common Core. It’s no secret that Mr. Gass represents the
Con side of the discussion. He has not been described as a “neutral”. In fact, neutrality is not what the Petitioners are looking for. For our best and most time-efficient learning experience, we should encourage participants who are passionate on both sides of the Common Core issue. Any suggestions for
passionate supporters of CC who would do an effective job presenting their views?
A few points from reading all of the above which, by the way, must be the world’s record–well at least the Boroughs’ record for number/length of blog comments. How sad that this energy is rightfully, it seems, directed at a committee that apparently doesn’t want to hear from its constituents. Most of the time, we hear more about apathy–apathy this isn’t! It should be welcomed!
Others have already said my principal observation–that a committee may inded welcome discussion not listed on the agenda as long as there’s no intention of voting on the matter. Wasn’t the committee expecting this topic to be raised? Could they not have welcomed some discussion and made a time for further discussion (not at 3 pm.)? What a gift–citizens who care so much about their work that they plead for a committee to study a topic?
Lastly,I do believe that not all states have agreed to Common Core, regardless of what the feds have to say..
Surely asking the committee to inform itself and be open to hearing from deeply interested constituents would be the envy of other hard-working also deeply committed municipal committees!