More conflict in Manchester over Common Core
From left, Kathy Peterson, Deborah Olszta and Doris Hohensee protest outside a Manchester Board of School Committee meeting Monday over the Common Core education standards. (TED SIEFER/UNION LEADER)
Four area activists spoke out against the Common Core, arguing that it would result in the federal government imposing a uniform and unsound educational system on communities across New Hampshire and the country.
Several conservative groups, including the state organization Cornerstone Action, have opposed Common Core. It has also recently drawn criticism from teacher unions as assessment tests have been rolled out.
"Your schools are being bought out by corporations," Olszta told the school board on Monday. "Private interests have invested millions to promote their corporate values that are not our own community values."
Olszta and Hohensee home-schooled their kids.
Heather Gage, the director of the Division of Instruction for the state DOE, maintained that the Common Core State Standards would allow teachers a great deal of flexibility.
New Hampshire is one of 46 states that have adopted the standards for math and English language arts, which have been pushed by the Obama administration as a way to develop nationwide standards and benchmarks for student achievement.
Teacher of Year
Bethany Bernasconi, the "Teacher of the Year" winner, said she felt more empowered under Common Core to do her job. "Common Core is grounded in research. What we know about how kids learn has changed, and we'd be remiss if we did not integrate that into our practice," said Bernasconi, a science teacher at Windham High School.
"It's not a decision foisted on us by the DOE," he said. "Oftentimes there's this idea Big Brother is telling us what to do, but here we have an impassioned educator telling us what a difference it makes," he said.
Citing his experience as a state senator, he said, "I don think the process is as close to being completed as you might think," he said. "I don't think anybody is going to call Manchester and say, 'Here is a curriculum you must implement.'"
"As a simple statement of fact, parents representing the PTOs in Manchester have been involved in developing those standards," he said.
Under the New Hampshire Department of Education's plan, school districts this fall must begin "instructional shifts" in math and English to meet the Common Core standards. Starting in the 2014 school year, districts will transition to the Smarter Balanced assessment tests, computer-based exams that are to take the place of the NECAP statewide testing system.
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