By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
…..At odds over the future of charter schools in Massachusetts, the co-chairwomen of the Education Committee may be more closely aligned on a proposal to revert state curriculum standards to their prior iteration.
The proposal to restore education standards in place before Massachusetts adopted Common Core in 2010 appears headed for the ballot, as does a citizens initiative to increase charter school enrollment.
Rep. Alice Peisch, a Wellesley Democrat and House chairwoman of the Education Committee, said the Common Core repeal would be a mistake. Her co-chairwoman on the committee, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said she is disinclined to vote for the proposal, but hasn’t yet staked out a position.
“If that ballot question were to pass, that is six years of work that will be irrelevant,” Peisch told members of local school committees on Tuesday. She said, “I think it would be a huge mistake for a ballot question to determine what students learn.”
Sandra Stotsky, who helped draft the old “first class” Massachusetts standards, told the News Service pulling the Bay State out of Common Core would stop the “damage” caused by the multi-state standard.
“The ballot question says let’s go back to the standards we know worked,” said Stotsky, who said Common Core includes “nonsense statements.”
The referendum would reverse a move by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education taken in 2010 and restore the prior frameworks and establish new processes for developing curriculum frameworks.
Peisch said the state’s teachers “have all been trained in the new standards” and the state is going out to bid for a new assessment – dubbed MCAS 2.0 – “that will be aligned with the standards.”
A former senior associate commissioner in the state’s education department, Stotsky said the Common Core standards are “unteachable.”
“They’re unteachable in that they require skills that kids don’t have and that teachers can’t easily teach,” Stotsky told the News Service.
Speaking at the Tuesday event organized by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat and co-chairwoman of the Education Committee, had a more measured take on the proposal.
“For folks who are worried about losing self-determination as a state over our own curriculum frameworks, there’s nothing about the Common Core that prevents us from doing that,” Chang-Diaz said. She said she has “trouble understanding” the “content-based objection” to Common Core.
Chang-Diaz told the News Service she wanted to read the question before forming a conclusion.
“I haven’t read it yet, so I think I will not be voting for that ballot question, but I’m a stickler for reading things before I state a final position,” Chang-Diaz said. She said, “I don’t have to vote on that for a while.”
The Common Core repeal referendum (H 3929) is currently before the Education Committee, which had a hearing on it in March. Without action by the Legislature before May 4 – which appears unlikely – supporters of the move away from Common Core could collect another 10,792 signatures around the state to place the matter before voters.