Barrington school board endorses Common Core, 4-1


About an hour of testimony offered by Scott Fuller did little to sway the four other members of the Barrington School Committee to reconsider their support for the Common Core State Standards.

Following a lengthy discussion at its meeting on Thursday night, Jan. 16, the school committee voted 4-1 to approve a resolution affirming support for the embattled education standards.

Mr. Fuller offered numerous reasons for his concern surrounding the Common Core State Standards. He cited other states that had already or were considering delaying the implementation of the standards; he spoke of the standards' origins; and he cited a number of education officials — including the head of the state's teachers' union — who had publicly voiced concerns about the Common Core State Standards.

Earlier in the meeting, about a half-dozen residents, many if not all with children in the local schools, told members of the school committee about their concerns surrounding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

One father spoke about how his daughter, a kindergarten student, said she hated school because all she ever did was worksheets. A mom said her daughter had always loved learning, loved school but had recently started to hate it. The woman said the stress coming from the forced adherence to the Common Core State Standards had resulted in super-stressed students, super-stressed teachers and super-stressed households.

Another woman said she did not have a problem with the new standards but felt the local school district was doing a poor job of implementing it. She said the classrooms — at least the ones containing her children  — needed to do a better job with differentiated instruction.

Some of the residents who spoke mentioned the upcoming Jan. 28 public meeting about the Common Core. Officials from the Rhode Island Department of Education will hold a public forum at Barrington High School at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 in an effort to answer questions from the public and better inform people on the new standards.

Those school committee members in support of the Common Core — Patrick Guida, Kate Brody, Paula Dominguez and Bob Shea — said the standards were an important part of raising the achievement bar for local students. In some cases they agreed that the district needed to do a better job with the implementation. Some also tried to clarify that the state adopted the Common Core in 2010 and that Thursday night's resolution was simply a reaffirmation of support.

Mr. Fuller challenged the board on the timing of the resolution. He asked who had added the item to the agenda and why it had been done without any real direction from the prior meetings.

Ms. Brody said she was responsible for the agenda and later told Mr. Fuller that his earlier public statement voicing concerns about the Common Core had nothing to do with the resolution.

Mr. Fuller also challenged Mr. Guida during the meeting. He said he wanted to know why Mr. Guida had recused himself from discussions about the Race To The Top Initiative years ago, but was not recusing himself from discussion about Common Core State Standards. Mr. Guida took clear offense to the implication that he had a conflict of interest in the matter; the two men berated each other with questions near the end of the discussion.

Tim Connor, the student representative on the school committee, offered a brief statement. He said today's students — locally and across America — were being failed by the education system. He said improvements were needed. He also said it seemed that the adults at the meeting were acting like children during their discussion.

Following the vote — which came at about 11 p.m. — most of the members of the audience exited the school committee room.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.