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Common Core foes critical of SAU 39 forum in Amherst

Union Leader Correspondent

October 28. 2013 8:43PM

AMHERST — After invitations were sent out to dozens of community and school leaders personally inviting them to a Common Core roundtable discussion next week, the superintendent of SAU 39 said Monday that the meeting is open to the public.

"We sent out something for invited guests, but this is an open SAU meeting," Superintendent Peter Warburton told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

There will be two guest speakers present for the event, David Pook and Scott Marion, according to the invitations that were sent to local School Board members, teachers, elected officials, the district's leadership team and various parent teacher groups.

There is a lot of conflicting information about Common Core, according to Warburton, who said it will be helpful to provide a forum in which school leaders can ask questions about the standards and the process.

Republican state Rep. Peter Hansen has raised concerns about the invitations that were distributed.

In an online blog, Hansen questioned why invitations were sent out to about 65 individuals rather than a public notice.

"Many citizens throughout New Hampshire have sincere and justifiable concern regarding what's known as Common Core," Hansen wrote. "… Common Core is an experiment in education and not well received by many communities."

John Quinlan, chairman of the SAU 39 School Board, acknowledged Monday that there is a growing number of people who have become resistant to Common Core. Still, he said some of those thoughts may not be based on facts.

The upcoming roundtable discussion will be an ideal time for SAU staff and other leaders to ask questions and learn more about Common Core so that they can fully understand the issue, according to Quinlan.

"This is designed to be an informative meeting, and has been expanded to include the public," he added. "I am certainly not an expert on Common Core, and I am looking forward to learning more. Anyone who wants to attend may attend."

A local resident, Christine Mukai, says she is pleased the meeting is open to the public but has other concerns about the upcoming discussion.

"If this is a public forum, they don't seem to be presenting both sides of the situation. That is concerning to me," she said, maintaining the two presenters — Pook and Marion — are both advocates of Common Core.

Pook is the head of the history department at Derryfield School and has helped write some of the Common Core standards, while Marion is the vice president of the National Center for the Improvement in Educational Assessment Inc., a nonprofit consulting firm in Dover.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Souhegan High School

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