In 2010 four “appointed” members of the New Hampshire State Board of Education voted to adopt national standards in Math and English. Since then, resistance has been growing across the country as parents, teachers, and school board members begin to see the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in their public schools.
The CCSS replaced the academic standards states had developed under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The CCSS were supposed to prepare students for college or the workforce and help students who moved from state to state.
Some of the initial problems critics saw were, the enormous cost to school districts, the poor quality of the standards and the data mining of private information on students.
As schools began aligning curriculum and testing students, the controversy grew more intense. At one point, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan referred to some of the biggest critics as, “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden- their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
New Hampshire Commissioner of Education, Virginia Barry, referred to critics (mainly parents) in New Hampshire as “misinformed”.
Secretary Duncan and Commissioner Barry seem to be underestimating the anger in parents who see the confusing math questions and the reduction in classical literature in favor of informational texts. There is nothing good about confusing children in mathematics because it can lead students to private tutors and can kill the love of learning.
The only content experts, Drs. Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram who were members of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the CCSS citing numerous flaws. For instance the CCSS math standards do not prepare students for college programs in the STEM field. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Why would we settle for inferior standards instead of using what we knew were the best in the nation?
The Federal Government bribed and coerced states to adopt the CCSS first through the Race to the Top (RttT) Grant program. Even though New Hampshire applied for the grant and agreed to adopt the CCSS, New Hampshire received no federal funding.
The Federal Government also offered states a “waiver” from NCLB. States were coerced into adopting standards, tying a teacher’s evaluation to the standardized tests and data mining private information on students.
With all of the criticism aimed at NCLB, it seems like the best solution would have been to end that Federal program. Instead, the U.S. Department Of Education ignored the law and began offering federal dollars and waivers in order to implement another education reform.
School districts can reject Common Core, however it becomes difficult knowing the state standardized tests will be based on the CCSS. The New Hampshire Department of Education signed away state control and made it extremely difficult for schools to use superior standards too.
Since Governor Hassan has not led New Hampshire to superior academic standards, parents need to become more involved. As elections move closer, it will be important for parents to first educate themselves on the CCSS and look for candidates who want something better for our children. If education is truly the priority everyone says it is, there is no reason we should be settling for another reform effort that continues to fail to elevate public schools in New Hampshire.
Ann Marie Banfield is the Education Liaison of Cornerstone Action.