Baker should embrace pre-Common Core standards

Governor betraying his past support for state's superior education standards

MICHAEL JONAS TRIED tried to paint Charlie Baker as a cautious governor on the issue of Common Core (“Baker’s Common Core Caution”).  Instead, he managed to imply that Gov. Baker’s secretary of education was a kind of 21st century Rasputin.

Who told Jonas that the Bay State was now disconnected from the multi-state consortium in charge of PARCC tests? Who told Gov. Baker that the Bay State was now severed from its “ties” to Common Core’s standards? Who told Gov. Baker that MCAS 2.0 was a “hybrid” test that could blend MCAS with PARCC? Who told Gov. Baker that the standards review process now underway by Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-selected committees approved by the secretary of education will accomplish what the ballot question intends? How can it without the participation of academic experts in reviews of state standards that are required by the ballot question? Who made Gov. Baker think that the “state” was now doing what the anti-Common Core parents want?

Why would these parents now be at locations across the state gathering the extra signatures needed to get the question on the November 2016 ballot?  They are supporting a question to eliminate Common Core’s standards and tests (including MCAS 2.0), and restore the state’s pre-Common Core superior standards. They want standards that have evidence of significant effectiveness with all demographic groups of students. Why doesn’t Gov. Baker want the standards he and his secretary of education enthusiastically voted for when Gov. Baker was on the state board of education in the early 2000s and his secretary of education chaired the board?

Why is Gov. Baker thumbing his nose, metaphorically speaking, at the parents and teachers who want the question on the November ballot so they can let the governor know by their vote how badly Common Core has damaged the state’s public schools? Teachers and parents testified by the droves at the five meetings Gov. Baker requested his secretary of education and state board of education hold across the state in 2015. But parents and teachers have never heard a word of support from him, even though his secretary of education attended all those open hearings. Links to their testimony are available in Appendix B of “How PARCC’s False Rigor Stunts the Academic Growth of All Students,” a white paper issued by the Pioneer Institute in October 2015.

Maybe it’s time for Gov. Baker to throw “caution” to the winds and try to represent the broad base of grassroots support across the state for repealing the Common Core standards.

Meet the Author

Sandra Stotsky is a former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and was in charge of developing or revising all the state’s K-12 pre-Common Core standards.