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A divided Alton school board rejects Common Core but educators speak out strongly in support of the new higher standards

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Here are excerpts (emphasis added) from a good report in the Laconia Daily Sun about a bad move by the Alton school board.  In spite of strong support for the Common Core standards from Alton Superintendent William Lander, 6th grade teacher Richard Kirby and Alton parent and Gilmanton School principal Carol Locke, the school board seemed persuaded by the false charges of Common Core opponents.

Fortunately, as the article points out, the vote is unlikely to change the curriculum or the kids’ opportunity to be exposed to the higher standards their school district has already put in place.  In addition, an anti-union, anti-Common Core web site called EAGnews points out in a pretty balanced analysis that actions like this are, in general, unlikely to have a practical effect.

ALTON — The School Board last night rejected the Common Core State Standards Initiative by a three-to-two vote, but apart from thumbing their noses at the federal government and state Department of Education and reaffirming their belief in local control of schools, the impact of their decision remains obscure.

…..

Opening the discussion on the issue, Carol Locke, speaking as an Alton resident and principal of Gilmanton School, began by correcting claims that a third of the teachers in Gilmanton left the school rather than teach to the Common Core standards, which were made at a board meeting. In fact, she said only three teachers left, two for teaching positions closer to their homes and a librarian who retired.

Suggestions that teachers reacted against Common Core, Locke insisted “are simply not true,” adding “they really don’t have concerns.” The program is designed to raise standards, she continued. “It’s not a bad thing to bring our education up to a higher standard.”

Richard Kirby, who teaches sixth grade English and mathematics at Alton Central School, told the board that the Alton Teachers Association welcomes Common Core. “It offers new challenges to students to become problem solvers, critical thinker and technologically literate,” he said. “It raises the bar for grade levels and individuals.”

Denying the federal government has a legitimate role in elementary and secondary education, Cormier urged the board to “stay true to local education. Parents know best what is good for their children. Local committees know best,” she said. She warned against what she called the “propaganda” of expecting all students to perform to the same standards. “Nobody is the same,” she said. Likewise, she insisted “we don’t learn through assessments.”

“Common Core is a big mistake,” Cormier declared. “I hope we have some backbone here tonight.”

Locke countered that Cormier misrepresented the program. “Assessment is just a tool,” she said, explaining that it does not displace learning in the classroom. Moreover, she reminded the board that Common Core is “not that different from the state standards we have now.”

Voicing the state motto “live free or die,” a woman asked “why would we want to take federal money? Once you let the government in,” she continued, “you can’t get rid of it. It gets bigger and bigger.”

“There’s a lot more to it than just what happens in the classroom,” said Cormier, who said that the program includes “data mining,” which invades the privacy of “pre-schoolers to 20-year-olds. It’s a mammoth step towards federalizing the curriculum.”

Here Rep. Cormier repeats the hoary myth that “they” will collect data on each individual child.  Superintendent Lander’s response is accurate: that’s against the law and not part of any plan.

Superintendent William Lander assured the board that “there is no mining of data” and the privacy of students is protected by both federal and state statutes. Expressing his support for Common Core, he said that much time and effort had been invested in designing the curriculum to fit the program, which he would not want to see undone.

After the meeting Kirby said that despite the vote of the board, beginning in 2015 his students will have to take the new test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment — which is formatted to measure their progress against the Common Core standards.

via Divided Alton School Board rejects Common Core.


6 Comments

  1. This Common CORE reform is anti-union, interfering with the ability of the local district to contract with teachers.

    Using unverified assessments, students will be used to conduct research for private testing companies, like Pearson, and teacher evaluations will depend upon the student scores and reliability of these unverified assessments.

    Why are districts should be informing parents and seeking their consent to subject students to this research?

    All this hype over Common CORE is just that: unsubstantiated by evidence.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Doris, the unions are strongly in favor and helping to train teachers. And it’s not hype…teachers are feeling empowered and are reporting strong evidence from their classrooms.

      • Look at New York and other state which have already implemented Common CORE assessments. Union leaders no longer so happy with these assessments.

        • Bill Duncan says:

          The Common Core State Standards are implemented on a state-by-state and, then, local basis. That’s one of the benefits. New York and other states, for instance, use high stakes testing to throttle teachers. New Hampshire takes an entirely different approach to teacher support and evaluation, one the unions helped design. So the whole experience with the Common Core has been different here. The experience in New York and other states has little to do with New Hampshire.

  2. Scott Marion says:

    Doris, I’m sorry, but you are grossly misinformed. There has been more research and development associated with PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment consortia than any state assessment system that has ever been used in this country. While it will be important to conduct research and evaluation to understand how well these assessments work in practice, that’s true for any assessment system, which unfortunately happens far too infrequently with many current assessments. If you want NH and the US to continue to lag behind other countries, stick with your views, but many of us see the need for the US to expect more from our students.

  3. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia’s website admits that its assessments are not verified. They are are being piloted and field tested, Scott. Those are the facts.

    http://www.nctm.org/uploadedFiles/Research_News_and_Advocacy/Summing_Up/Articles/2011/SBAC_Overview.pdf

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