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Common Core talk is pointed in Epping

Union Leader Correspondent

October 25. 2013 1:28AM

EPPING — Critics of national Common Core education standards urged residents to make their voices heard by bringing their concerns over the effort to improve academics to local school boards and legislators.

The message delivered at a two-hour forum hosted by the Greater Epping Republican Town Committee Thursday night followed the Manchester Board of School Committee’s recent vote against adopting Common Core, opting to create the district’s own education standards for students in the state’s largest city.

“Manchester rose up and they said no to Common Core and they wanted to develop their own standards,” said Ann Marie Banfield, a mother of three and an education liaison at Cornerstone Action, a Manchester-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that aims to preserve the state’s traditional values, limited government and free markets.

About 50 people attended the forum, which included a panel of four guest speakers who criticized the Common Core standards adopted by the state Board of Education in 2010.

The goal was to establish one set of clear educational expectations for English language arts/literacy and mathematics that states can share and voluntarily adopt.

“The problem with this is that American education was at its best when left to individual states at the control of school boards. … American education needs to be fixed, but top-down national control through national standards and national testing is not the way to do it,” said Jason Antosz, a former state representative from Epping who chairs the Republican Town Committee.

The panel of speakers took some audience questions written on notecards toward the end of the forum. Some asked how the standards would affect home-schooled children and those in private schools while others wanted to know what questions they should be asking their school boards.

Sandra Stotsky, a retired professor from the University of Arkansas who served on the Common Core Validation Committee, was among the speakers.

Stotsky said she was one of five members who refused to sign off on the standards, arguing there are many flaws. Among other things, she said the college readiness standards and others were not developed using “real world experience” and won’t prepare students for “authentic” college coursework.

She also complained that the Common Core writing standards are developmentally inappropriate at different grade levels.

Stotsky also said the standards themselves are poorly written and “approach gibberish.”

She has offered to help Manchester school officials write their standards free of charge.

“Common core really is a path to nowhere when it comes to mathematics,” said Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute in Boston, Speaker Greg Hill, who formerly served on the House Education Committee, reiterated comments made by others who called Common Core an “experiment” on children.

He said people need to tell their school boards that they “can’t experiment with our children.”

“The more people that show up the more power we have,” he said.

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