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Standard evasion: City's Common Core silence

July 14. 2014 8:10PM

Manchester’s school administration invited the public to a hearing on the city’s new academic standards last Tuesday. At the hearing, the administration had no copies of the standards to hand out. Nor were any detailed explanations of the standards made.

A month earlier, the committee that drafted the standards, along with the superintendent and assistant superintendent, made a PowerPoint presentation about them to the Board of School Committee. They offered no details about the standards themselves or how they were developed. This is the manner in which parents, taxpayers and even school board members are being treated under the regime of Superintendent Debra Livingston.

Parents who want to know about the Manchester Academic Standards, which is what the city’s Common Core-based standards are being called, can log on to the school district website to view a laughably incomplete PowerPoint presentation. A typical slide contains three bullet points — “Common Core State Standards,” “Variety of Exemplar Standards,” and “Consultants” — written over an arrow that points to the end result: “Manchester Academic Standards.”

Such clarity. It reminds us of the New Yorker cartoon in which a mathematician scrawls on the chalkboard in the middle of a long equation, “then a miracle occurs.” What does this possibly tell parents?

At last week’s public hearing, “there was not a word of explanation about the standards — or about the next steps in the process,” our reporter Ted Siefer wrote. “Instead, the committee’s chair read from the standard script for public hearings and adjourned the meeting after 15 minutes.” Assistant Superintendent David Ryan “did not respond to a request to answer follow-up questions,” Siefer wrote.

And why would Livingston be forthcoming? She has received a raise and a contract extension while being criticized for inadequate communication with the public.

The Board of School Committee needs to make clear to these public employees that parents and taxpayers have a right to know the details regarding the standards to which the city’s children will be held.

Parents with their own questions can ask them at this Thursday’s public hearing on the standards, held at Manchester High School West at 6 p.m.

Education Politics Social issues Editorial Manchester

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