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Uncommon core? Manchester goes its own way

Manchester’s Board of School Committee voted on Wednesday to have the school district develop its own standards rather than rely entirely on the controversial Common Core standards. This is going to be interesting.

The board did not “reject” Common Core. The plan is to use those standards as the “floor” for Manchester and spend the next several months coming up with a unique set that will exceed in academic rigor the standards presented in Common Core. The district is to spend $28,000 on this project. The standards are to be applied in the following academic year.

“I think we’re going to revolutionize education in the city, and I think it started last night,” Mayor and Board of School Committee Chairman Ted Gatsas told us in an interview yesterday. We hope so. The city’s schools could use a little revolutionizing.

But if this were so easy, wouldn’t other districts have done it long ago?

Common Core is not a curriculum. It is a set of vague standards students would be expected to meet. The district is planning to develop stronger standards and, presumably, the curricula to go with them. It is great to have high standards, but if the curricula are outdated or flawed, how can students be expected to reach the standards?

Though we meet this vote with some skepticisim, it is encouraging that the board has taken on a complex and risky challenge. It could have passively adopted Common Core and washed its hands. Instead the board voted to do the best it could for the city’s children by searching for something better. Despite the risk involved, that was the right call.


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