Scott Smyers's blog

Every Day Counts: A Case for Prioritizing In-person Learning

When the lockdowns began, we were all stunned and trusted that the local, state, and federal health officials knew what they were doing and were following a plan. After all, one of the primary purposes of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is to prepare for any diseases, including viruses, known or unknown, and have a plan ready to implement. This plan should include effective communication to explain the facts to the effected populations including proposed actions to reduce the spread and risk to everyone.

Continued Restrictions and Observations in Acton and Boxborough and around the World due to the COVID-19: March 23-April 6

Over the past two weeks, restrictions have increased even more, and the news isn't much better thanks to the ongoing spread of the Corona/Covid 19/Wuhan Virus. Local, state and federal agencies are doing what they can to support the medical service industry but to be prepared for any situation would require an extraordinary amount of resources AND limit our individual freedoms to an unacceptable level in case of an outbreak.

First, They Closed the Schools, then the Playgrounds. What's next? March 12-22, 2020

None of us have ever experienced anything like the ongoing spread of the Corona/Covid 19/Wuhan Virus. There is an abundance of information (mixed with false information) online and in broadcast media. It is difficult to keep up with the latest news, figure out what really going on and even more difficult to determine what will happen in the future. Here is a collection of observations and some analysis of how this has affected our local community over the past 11 days. Acton Forum will continue to post similar updates week to week.

Acton’s Immigration Policy After Nearly Two Years: Part 2, Data and Police Comments

This Blog is a continuation of Part 1, posted on October 27, 2019. To read part one, CLICK HERE

To quantify the population of non-citizen lawbreakers within Acton between November 1, 2017 and November 1, 2019 Acton Forum asked Deputy Chief of Police, James Cogan to compile a list of police interactions with individuals who:

a. did not have identification from the US,

The Future of Education in Acton Boxborough – Problems with Projecting Future Needs

I have several concerns related to the building project as it relates to how education will be implemented in the future 50 years. Investing over $100 Million is worth considering every reasonable alternative.

Acton’s Immigration Policy After Nearly Two Years: Part 1, A Re-Introduction

There have been many immigration policies enacted at the local and state level across the Country, but all are specific to their own conditions. Many have been challenged in court and when an illegal immigrant commits a serious crime, one of the first questions raised on behalf of the victim is about the details of the local immigration policy.

Learn About International Persecution of Christians and How You can Help. Special Event this Saturday Evening in Lawrence.

You may be aware of terrible persecutions of Christians around the world. I became aware of this topic and found a non-profit group dedicated to educating Americans about this issue: In Defense of Christians (IDC). They are trying to make a difference within our government and encouraging them to make the necessary policy changes. Currently, there is no local chapter for IDC in Massachusetts, but I am working as a volunteer for to promote an upcoming “Town Hall” discussion and pot-luck dinner on Saturday June 17 in Lawrence.

6:00PM, Saturday June 17, 2017

MCAS 2.0: To Take or Not To Take

At the Special Town Meeting (STM) on November 10, 2015, the citizens of Acton sent a clear message to all authorized officials in our local education system, our State Representatives and State Department of Education: we do not approve of any increase in high-stakes standardized tests or losing more local control of our schools. During the comment session of the STM, there were many passionate and evidence-based statements from parents and grandparents concerned about Common Core, PARCC testing, and overall decrease in the quality of education.

Clarification on Citizen's Petition to Refuse PARCC and Phase Out Common Core

On October 27 I attended the three board meeting with the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and School Committee. Based on some discussion I had with various members of the different boards/committees about the Citizen's Petition related to Common Core and PARCC, I drafted this letter to the Board of Selectmen.

In short, our objective is to resist changing from MCAS to PARCC testing and to phase out Common Core.

November 2, 2015

Re: Citizen’s Petition on Common Core and PARCC

Dear Board of Selectmen,

Special Town Meeting to Consider Citizen’s Petition on Common Core and PARCC

Congratulations and thank you to all in Acton who supported the Citizen’s Petition intended to freeze or reduce standardized testing and restore education decisions to the local committees, parents, teachers, and administrators. If you are concerned about this issue locally, you should also be concerned about the other statewide efforts with the same objectives (contact me about signing the state-wide petition for the 2016 ballot, see

Resistance Grows to Common Core and PARCC Tests in Acton Schools and Across Massachusetts –SIGN THE PETITION!

There is a Citizen’s Petition currently circulating throughout Acton with the purpose of delaying the replacement of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) testing with the Partners for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing AND pushing back against the Common Core Frameworks and Standards. This is largely about how local communities have lost control of what is taught in our schools and any decisions related to standardized testing. Please see any of my previous articles on this topic for more background information.

Common Core and PARCC Update: Informative Forum on Thursday and Seven Bills Being Considered at State House

I strongly encourage anyone interested in learning more about Common Core and PARCC testing to attend an Informational Forum in Chelmsford.

Common Core Forum
Thursday May 21th
Chelmsford Police Station
1 Olde North Road
Chelmsford, Ma
Time: 6:30 (Coffee) 7pm-9pm
Speakers: Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Jamie Gass

There will be expert speakers and lots of questions from the public. Parents, School Committee Members, Selectmen, Teachers, and Students will learn a lot in a short period of time.


Standardized testing is so important that we must need more. Does it fulfill any purpose for Students?

Many students in Acton and Boxborough were taking MCAS tests recently. Although I’m thankful that they weren’t subjected to PARCC testing, the more I learn about standardized tests in general, the more I don’t like them. I can understand the one-time test in High School to make sure students have a satisfactory understanding of basic material. Other than that, it is nothing but a data collection mechanism for the education industry and busy-body policy makers who believe they can make decisions for local school districts better than anyone else.

Common Core: Data, Privacy and Money

One student advancing through elementary and secondary school produces an impressive amount of papers, tests, worksheets, artwork, and other projects. Taken together, these products measure the student’s progress and are intended to demonstrate their understanding of a wide variety of subjects. In the classic student-teacher relationship, the teacher has specific objectives for each day, week, month, term, and year. Standardized testing disrupts the individual learning processes and should be minimized.

Common Core and PARCC: Calling on Everyone to Take Action at Each Level and Speak Out

I have been researching and actively involved in exposing Common Core and PARCC testing for a long time now. My objective is not to just complain, but to provide information to parents and specific questions they can ask and what they can do to make a difference.
However, there is a hierarchy of leadership in our own school district and I expect these leaders would benefit greatly by learning what others in those same positions are doing in different districts throughout our region.


Back to School and Back to the Testing Debate: PARCC vs. MCAS

Last spring, many parents and education professionals were discussing important decisions being considered to change our standardized testing in the public school system. In essence, Acton Boxborough was given a choice: uphold the standardized testing system developed by professionals from the Massachusetts OR replace said system with a national, unknown system that has never been tested anywhere or clearly demonstrated to be effective and efficient use of our teaching time or tax dollars.

Updates on Common Core and PARCC for TONIGHT’S Informational Forum at Gates School (7pm).

There are many, many breaking stories on Common Core and PARCC testing from MA and around the country since my last blog a little more than two weeks ago.

Here are two stories that should be of interest to anyone interested in this topic.

Calling All Parents! Informational Forum to Discuss Common Core: 7pm, Monday, June 16, 2014, Gates School, 75 Spruce St.

Finally, we may get some answers and be able to have an open discussion on Common Core in Acton! A group of concerned parents from Acton have organized a public forum where we can ask questions and discuss this very important topic. There will be at least two guest speakers and we are waiting to hear from others that have been invited.

David McGeney is currently serving in his 19th year as a member of the Peabody School Committee. He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

As the School Year Ends Students Ought to Brace Themselves for the Next Phase of Common Core

There is so much going on as the school year comes to a close and summer begins. Most parents are not worrying about standardized testing and changes to the content of what is taught at each grade level. It just isn’t that much fun to think about and downright frustrating if you really want to understand the changes. It seems like a perfect time to legally secure broad sweeping changes to the educational system – when few are paying any attention.

Acton Town Meeting: 4/7/14. A step in the right direction.

There were two votes that I was pleased to see were supported by the people. Both required standing votes because they were too close to call. One was how the funding for the town visiting health services would be partitioned. Enough people actually realized that the amendment from the FinCom, but not supported by the Selectmen, was a way to keep funds appropriately separated and NOT a mandate to cut back on actual funding for health care services for our residents in need.

How does PARCC/Common Core Relate to Town Meeting? What does our Local Teacher’s Union have to say about PARCC/Common Core?

I’ve been doing a lot of research and asking a lot of questions about PARCC/Common Core and there seems to be no end to evidence that leads me to conclude it is NOT right for Acton and will cost a lot more than projected. To be clear, the projected cost was $0. Surprise, the projection was wrong.

PARCC Testing Begins NOW. A NEW Unecessary and Stressful Test for Students?

This week MCAS testing begins in Acton and Boxborough. Are the students excited (maybe a few) or just hoping it will be over and done? This year is different, however. This year, a select few of our students will get to participate in a “field test” of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. How are the students being selected to participate? How will Pearson (a for-profit education service company) use our student data? What exactly are the students being told before the test is administered?

Open Letter to Rep. Benson on Common Core - we need some ANSWERS!

Dear Representative Benson,

When we met a couple months ago, you suggested setting up a forum on Common Core and PARCC to answer some of our questions.

There are many forums that have occurred and are scheduled for the near future. I have attended one such forum, watched videos of others, and found them very helpful.

Common Core is not right for Acton. It is worse than I thought.

I attended a public forum on Common Core at the Northborough Library on Tuesday, March 4. About 1 week before the meeting, I sent a message to the Douglas PTO, AB School Committee, and some other people that have expressed interest in learning more. I even offered to drive, but never heard back from anyone. There may have been someone from Acton in attendance (I think I recognized one person…), but it is likely that I was the only from Acton who was there and stayed until the end.

Open Letter to the AB School Committee

Dear Members of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee:

Although I was only able to attend part of the Saturday’s meeting, I learned a great deal about the important decisions occurring on our budget. I was particularly impressed in the closing segment when one of the members explained how important it was that the Board maintains a high standard of integrity insofar as fulfilling their promises on cost savings resulting from regionalization.