It would have been easy for Achieve, etc. to put together Common Core ELA standards that would have, well, actually been made up of the actual, non-controversial core of the system of ELA standards that Achieve, etc., successfully created and promoted over the last decade. They never had any reason to open their mouths about, say, % of fiction/non-fiction reading because those issues have never been considered part of the standards anyhow.
I don't know why they didn't take the easy route and almost guarantee the successful culmination of Achieve's 10-year mission, but I'm sure the fact that they felt Race to the Top would guarantee that whatever they wrote would be initially accepted by the states made them feel like they could indulge other experiments which may well blow up in their faces in coming years.
Similarly, since RIMA and Achievement First justifiably felt that they could do whatever they wanted in opening their new charter because RI had already essentially promised the Feds that the school would open. As a result, not only did RIDE approve an application which was rather obviously out of compliance with the law (which could blow up on them at any point), but now, six weeks before the application deadline for the new school, not only have they done no public outreach, as required by their preliminary charter, no public information session, not even an online brochure, the basic details of the school's location, board, administration, lottery procedure, etc. are entirely unknown.
Of course, it is unlikely that this will derail the project, because of their RttT guarantees. I'm pretty sure that neither RIMA nor AF ran their other school openings this way, and the change is not going to be helpful to them, the community, or anyone.
Thanks Race to the Top. Thanks Arne!