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Common Core education plan returns to Manchester stage


MANCHESTER — Common Core will once again take center stage in the Queen City, when the Board of School Committee is expected to take up the controversial education standards.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in City Hall.

After some school board members publicly voiced concerns, the board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee voted Sept. 24 to send the Common Core state standards back to the full school board without a recommendation. No formal approval has been granted.

Approximately 50 people attended the September session, reiterating objections to the Common Core standards made at school board meetings over the summer.

The committee is being asked to sign off on curriculum guides developed during the summer break by city teachers to align teaching in the district with Common Core. School officials have said that Manchester is behind other districts in adopting the standards. State education officials have also indicated the city could be at risk for losing state and federal aid if the district does not agree to institute an assessment test derived from the standards.

Critics charge Common Core is an attempt by the Obama administration to impose a rigid educational system that relies on unsound principles and undermines local control. Supporters say its goal is to establish nationwide learning benchmarks and to prepare U.S. students to compete in the global economy.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Livingston said in August that $21 million in federal funding could be lost if the district didn't adopt Common Core.

Also on the agenda for Wednesday's session is a presentation on plans to audit and develop reading and language arts standards for students in kindergarten through grade five.

The cost of the audit is pegged at $28,500.

The plan calls for a total of 30 classroom teachers to audit the current K-5 math, reading and language arts standards. The group will meet once a month, for a total of five days from December to April, then meet after school for two hours on two days in April and May to finalize the revisions.

The cost to the district of using 30 substitutes per day for five days at $75 a day, plus two teachers running two, two-hour sessions at $25 an hour, comes to $14,250 for both reviews, for a total of $28,500.

pfeely@unionleader.com

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