Common Core Question May Appear on 2016 Ballot in Massachusetts


Voters in Massachusetts may have their voices heard on whether the state should continue the use of Common Core Standards — if the effort’s organizers can gather enough signatures.

The Massachusetts attorney general approved the ballot question as constitutional last week.  Organizers must now collect 65,000 signatures for the measure to be included on the 2016 ballot.  The campaign is estimated to cost $100,000.

The group End Common Core MA would like to see the state return to the standards that had been in use before 2010, when the state joined 42 other states and the District in adopting the Common Core.  “We want to give the people of Massachusetts a voice in their educational standards,” said Donna Colorio, who chairs End Common Core MA.

Colorio said that the standards previously in use were considered among the best in the country, and the Common Core standards cannot compare.

“Why would Massachusetts choose to go backwards, when we were number one in the country?” said Colorio, a former Worcester School Committee member whose youngest child attends public high school. “We are paying Massachusetts taxes for Mississippi standards.”

The group has held a number of public meetings in an effort to educate the public on the Common Core standards.

Colorio believes voters in the state should have the opportunity to voice their opinions concerning academic standards.  Current state law allows the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to set K-12 standards, and the 11 member board is appointed by the governor and serve staggered terms.  This is done in an effort to keep the process away from the political eye.  “And we’ve been well-served by that,” said Jacqueline Reis, a spokeswoman for the state education department. “It keeps our teachers and administrators moving in the same direction and gives us continuity.”

Reis said that if voters were given the opportunity to weigh in on the use of the standards, that continuity could be broken.  “All those educators would have to change what they’ve been working on for years,” she said.

The Common Core standards were created in an effort to bring consistency to education standards across state lines.  The standards spell out skills and knowledge that should be known in each grade level from Kindergarten through high school.  Classroom materials and teaching methods are still left up to each classroom.

Much of the opposition to the use of the standards comes as a result of being upset over the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers) exam.  The test is one of two created by the federal government to determine how well students are learning, writes Lyndsey Layton for The Washington Post.

Colorio said the standards have had negative effects on Massachusetts, as reading assessments have dropped since the adoption of the new exam.

“This is a one size fits all education standard, period,” she said. “What you have when you have a one size fit all is mediocrity, not quality education.