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Letter: Remove the shackles of Common Core

Re New Hampshire Board of Education Chairman Tom Raffio’s column, “Anti-Common Core legislation would be a big step backward” (Monitor Forum, Feb. 21): It’s important to understand that the board failed to consider better academic standards when adopting Common Core in 2010.

Raffio claims to support districts like Manchester and Alton, which are working to develop higher and better standards. So why didn’t the state board adopt these better standards for all New Hampshire students?

Raffio fails to mention that Common Core math standards cannot prepare students for science, technology, engineering and math programs because they do not include standards beyond Algebra 2 other than a handful of trigonometry concepts. To qualify for entrance into STEM programs students need pre-calculus and calculus. This is why elite schools, like Phillips Exeter where Gov. Maggie Hassan’s husband is headmaster, will not consider Common Core.

The old Massachusetts standards were among the best, as its students performed at the top of the country. So why didn’t New Hampshire consider these standards? Money. Federal money was offered to states that adopted Common Core.

Massachusetts also abandoned its standards for federal money, but it quickly noticed test scores were dropping. Massachusetts is now reconsidering its decision.

The New Hampshire board adopted Common Core over four weeks in the summer of 2010. The public wasn’t informed. No one testified at hearings. No comparison to better standards was made.

State legislators are working to terminate implementation of these mediocre, untested standards; eliminate a flawed assessment that even Nashua teachers and union leaders are opposing as inappropriate; and reject math standards that leave parents and children confused. New Hampshire has a real opportunity to offer students the best academic standards in the country, but first we must remove the shackles of Common Core.

DEBORAH OLSZTA

Manchester

You are recycling a lot of incorrect information here, Deborah. Just for instance, Manchester is making minor tweaks that suit its own students, teachers and teaching style, just as any other NH district could do. You can see their whole effort here: http://curriculum.mansd.org/resource-documents/standards-development . They are not doing something that even they would propose should be adopted statewide. But, as Jane Cormier testified to the House Education Committee, Alton apparently isn't even doing that. They appear to have done nothing to replace the Common Core: http://youtu.be/MIEzevKzoTA?t=8m20s . In any case, they control only the grade school and then will send their kids to a Common Core high school. I hope their desire to make a political statement doesn't override their commitment to the welfare of their kids. TX, AK and VA all have Race to the Top money but do not use the Common Core. NH adopted the new standards plain and simply because we helped write them and knew they were better than what we had. Etc....etc...

You nailed that BPR. Exactly. This education method has to be tried to see if it works. Folks should be really angry at their governors who signed up for this. The reason they did is because they were held hostage in regards to receiving Federal Funds. I am sure MA is not happy. Just like the ACA, nobody has a clue what is in CC, at least those on the left. Notice you never here chatter about the math, like when division will be introduced and the fact that now they are aligning the SAT with CC. The question is, if CC is so terrific, why did the SAT have to be changed?

As Bill Duncan points out above, the Common Core standards are better than our current standards--whether they're better or worse than the Mass standards is debatable, but not the issue in NH. My concern is with the speed of implementation, and the fact that high-stakes testing based upon the CC is coming too quickly for test results to be valid. My fear is that, just like NCLB, theCC has a hidden agenda--a push for privatization and charter schools based on the results of CC tests. The truth regarding testing results and international comparisons is that we are doing pretty well. Testing done since the early 70's shows steady improvement in test scores. The claim that our public schools are failing is false--based on a misreading (often intentional) of test scores.

My fear is that it is too experimental and not only that, it teaches a social agenda and multi-culturalism when we should be teaching the melting pot. There is a place for private schools and charter schools as the education is much better. Teachers don't like it because it cuts into their gravy train.

Please support your claim that charter schools perform better than public schools. As for your other claims regarding CC, a 'social agenda' (whatever that is to you) and multiculturalism, you're blowing smoke. Public education operates in the real world, which is, among many things, both 'multicultural' and warming.

From the NY Times: "For the second time in three years, a rigorous study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes shows that the typical New York City charter school student learns more in a year in reading and math than his or her peers in their neighborhood district schools. The difference, over a typical year, amounts to about a month’s more learning in reading — and a whopping five months’ more learning in math. That is good news, especially given the fact that about three-quarters of the city’s charter school children come from poor families. But a mixed picture emerged when the Stanford researchers measured charter schools on students’ learning growth (year-to-year improvement) as well as their overall achievement, as compared with the city as whole" Multi-culturalism is political correctness and the climate hysteria is political and should not be taught as absolute science.

Common Core is the ObamaKare of Education. Common Core advocates say, in effect: "If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period." If you believe this, your credulity is impervious to evidence. And you probably are a progressive

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