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August 27. 2013 10:34PM

Common Core coming to Manchester classrooms

MANCHESTER — The Common Core State Standards will start being implemented in city classrooms this semester, despite the concerns expressed by its critics and some school board members.

Superintendent Debra Livingston presented sample curriculum guides at a meeting of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee Tuesday. The guides were produced by city teachers over the summer under the guidance of a consultant hired by the district.

The meeting was attended by around two dozen members of the public, several of whom spoke out against the state standards at the beginning of the session. Opponents of Common Core claim it is a federally imposed system that relies on unsound educational principles and will undermine local control.

Livingston countered that the standards were meant to prepare students to compete in today's world and were based on sound research, echoing the arguments of state education officials.

"We have been using a system that teaches a mile long and an inch deep. What Common Core does, it has shifted those ideas to make sure students are understanding at a very deep level," she said.

Livingston also said that the district was "two years behind" other communities in the state in rolling out the standards.

Members of the committee expressed reservations about approving the curriculum guides, since they were only presented with two examples, for Grade 2 English Language Arts and for Grade 7 Math.

Rather than vote to approve the guides, the committee tabled the matter, while giving Livingston the authorization to move forward in instituting the changes this year.

"This would really be a pilot program," said Ward 1 board member Sarah Ambrogi, the chair of the committee.

Livingston also confirmed, in response to questions raised by members of the committee, that $21 million in federal funding was at stake if the district didn't adopt Common Core.

The opponents of the standards said their research caused them to be very concerned.

Patrice Bernard, who said she home-schools her children, said the recommended reading material included books on tools, which she noted would likely be uninteresting for second-graders, and a book that was written in English and Spanish.

"In my house, we don't say mi casa is su casa," she said.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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