By Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM – Local residents criticized the district and the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee for its involvement in implementing federal Common Core standards during the public comment portion of the committee’s Jan. 14 meeting.
Wilbraham resident and parent of students in the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District Tara Kozub called it a “sad irony” that she was speaking before the School Committee, stating that in her children’s kindergarten orientations, the video shown stated, “childhood is a journey, not a race.”
“I come here as a mom who questions whether the district believes in its own root philosophy,” she said. “I teach my children, as my parents taught me, to judge a person not by his words or his intent, but by his actions. So far this year the actions of this School Committee and the administration as a whole reflect a departure of a noble and efficacious philosophy.”
She condemned the Common Core standards as a “one-size fits all” approach to learning that went away from the idea of allowing for the implementation diverse teaching styles.
She went on to criticize the committee members for opting not to attend an event hosted by the Falcons of Educational Freedom, which featured an appearance by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the state’s Common Core validation committee who opposed the final standards and refused to sign off on them.
Finally, she asked committee members to make a choice to opt out of the standards.
Wilbraham resident Michael Dane, a Republican, pointed out that he helped some Republican members of the School Committee in their campaigns for election and saw the Common Core Standards as an Obama Administration movement that they should not support.
“I think it’s wrong and I think that Republicans on this committee should act like Republicans and not embrace this Obama adventure on education that’s certainly going to lead to the fundamental transformation of America that he so promises,” he said.
School Committee Chair Peter Salerno said he recognized the concerns regarding the Common Core and the committee did hear them.
“The fact is that this committee is serious about evaluating and continuing the excellence in education and will continue to do so, irrespective of whether we’re Republican or Democrat,” he said. “The purpose of this committee is to deal with the educational needs of our system.”
Salerno also said that HWRSD was one of the only districts in the state that refused to accept federal Race to the Top grant funding.
“It was a symbolic gesture, but it was a gesture on our part to say, ‘We are concerned,’ and we will always maintain our issue associated with local control,” he said.
Salerno went on to say that meetings regarding the issue would continue in the future, including a 6:30 p.m. event on Feb. 5 at which representatives of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would discuss the Pioneer Valley’s involvement in the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment.