Core seeds were planted years ago
Marc Tucker, left, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, listens to a question from State Rep. Kermit Williams, D-Wilton, at a day-long information session for lawmakers on Common Core education standards. A Maine resident, Tucker is one of the leading advocates for Common Core. (Dave Solomon / Union Leader)
Establishing uniform goals for math and English K-12 education for a highly mobile society was only one of the motives behind creation of the Common Core State Standards. Another key objective when the project was launched in 2008 was to improve educational outcomes so that more high school graduates would be truly ready for college or the workplace without extensive remedial work.
In 2010, the New Hampshire Board of Education voted to replace Grade Level Expectations, which had been the foundation for curricula statewide, with the Common Core, as did most other states. By the start of 2013, it looked as if all the states except Texas, Alaska, Nebraska and Virginia would adopt the standards.
Then the opposition began to mobilize. In April, the Republican National Committee criticized the initiative as a "one size fits all" approach and an "inappropriate overreach" by the federal government, despite continued support among leading Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The issue has now moved front and center across the state. The Alton and Manchester school boards voted to develop their own standards, which they say will exceed Common Core. Nashua, whose school district was at the forefront of the effort, has now been asked to delay implementation. Supporters and opponents squared off at a legislative forum at the State House on Oct. 29.
Support from the BIA should come as no surprise, since Common Core emerged largely out of economic development concerns at the state level and among large employers.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the effort, involving teachers, administrators, parents and state leaders from across the country, to develop the new standards. Professor David Pook of the Derryfield School and Granite State College helped write the English standards.
In a series of articles starting today and continuing this week, the New Hampshire Sunday News and the Union Leader will examine the content of the Common Core State Standards and the arguments on both sides, including a look inside a classroom in Amherst, where the standards have been embraced, and one in Manchester, which has pulled the plug.
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