Friday, February 21, 2014


There has been a lot of very vocal people shouting opposition against the Common Core State Standards, which New Hampshire adopted in 2010 to replace our old curriculum standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.  The loud opposition comes mainly from the right wing minority, who see conspiracy in everything.  Unfortunately, many of those vocal opponents have made their way into the New Hampshire and are seeking to unravel our education system by backing out of participation in initiatives and education reforms that would help our children.  House Bill 1508 seeks to terminate the Common Core in New Hampshire. I see caring parents and grandparents anxious over what they perceive is a problem, writing letters to the editor, speaking at legislative hearings, and complaining at school board meetings because they care about the education of her children.  But unfortunately, they are speaking against the Common Core because they choose to believe the misinformation that is being propagated by those groups who would like to tear down our public education system and replace it with either a privatized or religions one.  Also unfortunate is the fact that many of our New Hampshire Legislators are also accepting this misinformation as fact and spreading these inaccuracies to their constituents.  While I can forgive parents and grandparents who do not fact check and research their own information to make sure it is accurate, I certainly can hold our representatives accountable for spreading lies and not fact checking.  If they did check the facts, they would either see things differently, or continue to spread the lies and fears about the Common Core, because they have a hidden agenda. Farmington's own Representative, Joe Pitre, is just one of these folks.  He's also on our school board!  His agenda is obvious, whether it is out of fear or ignorance is unknown.  Either way, these ideas are not good for New Hampshire, and certainly not good for New Hampshire's children.   People need to be more educated so they understand that opposing the Common Core is not in the best interest of their children and grandchildren.

For those misinformed victims of fear mongering, for our representatives who should know better, and for those of you who are sitting on the fence about the Common Core, I will attempt to clarify some of the more common points of misconception about the Common Core.  And, I will urge you to do the research yourself.  Read about the origins, and the process or developing and implementing the Common Core.  Read about its philosophy of evidence based argument and deep learning.  Read about the current research in learning and teaching in the 21st Century.

First, the Common Core are not federally mandated standards.  The development was overseen by a steering committee that came from many states and included educators, educational reformers, business leaders, school teachers, and community minded citizens, who saw the need to build a coherent set of standards that states could adopt, if they so chose, that would improve the education of our children.   Once completed, they were so good that 45 states independently adopted them.

The federal government never required the adoption of Common Core State Standards in order to receive funding or a waiver from NCLB.  They did require that states have or adopt high quality standards.  It just so happens that since most states have adopted Common Core, it seems like the feds required them.

The CCSS are also not curriculum standards.  Teachers will not lose their ability to teach their own content in their own way. Rather, because the CCSS are performance standards, rather than content standards, they actually give teachers more freedom to develop their own lessons and activities that build the learning required for students to perform.  People who are opposed to Common Core should review the standards and select those individual standards to which they are opposed and explain why the opposition.   Nothing in the Common Core Standards is unnecessary for children to learn.

Accountability for teaching is not part of the Common Core.  They are only standards that point to what students should know or be able to do.  Accountability comes from state law and is no better or worse under the CCSS than under previous standards.  New Hampshire has always had standards.  While we never had standards in common with 45 states, we currently have standards in common with  some of our neighboring New England States in form of New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).

Likewise CCSS do not require high stakes testing.  That is a federal requirement under No Child Left Behind.  So those that are opposed to high stakes testing should push for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and remove the heavy requirement on standardized testing, if that is what they believe.

Finally, many opponents seek to direct New Hampshire down another path which cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity.  I could not agree with her more that this is the path we should be on.  However, as we stand now, with Common Core, we are on that path already.  If the opponents were to review the philosophy behind the CCSS, they would find that Common Core Standards do exactly that.  They allow for multiple pathways to learning, promote evidence based decision making and problem solving, effective communication and collaboration, and the abilities to demonstrate understanding and information fluency.

So by all means, I encourage you to write your legislators about HB 1508.  And do tell them that you want to keep our  high quality educational standards in New Hampshire.  But if that's what you believe, you have to tell them to vote against HB1508.  And at town meetings, school board meetings, and legislative hearings, and letters to the editor, you have to call these people on their misunderstandings and simpel hate mongering.  Come election day, you have to vote those who would undermine our public education system out of office.  Their misinformation and fear mongering have got to stop.  New Hampshire has no place for this kind of behavior in our elected officials.

Learn More About Common Core 

Advancing New Hampshire Public Education     www.anhpe.org

Common Core State Standards   www.corestandards.org

Achieve   www.achieve.org

Council of Chief State School Officers Common Core Initiative
http://ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/The_Common_Core_State_Standards_Initiative.html

National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices
http://www.nga.org/cms/home/nga-center-for-best-practices/center-divisions/center-issues/page-edu-issues/col2-content/main-content-list/common-core-state-standards.html

*sjf

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