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Two big wins: the BIA and Manchester both support the Common Core

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Yesterday afternoon the BIA gave the Common Core State Standards a ringing endorsement (and here’s the NHBR coverage of the announcement) – announcing unanimous board support.  BIA President Jim Roche, said,

“A robust advanced manufacturing and high technology sector is critical to New Hampshire’s future economic success.  BIA believes the Common Core is an important part of ensuring our future workforce has the education and skills necessary to fill these high-paying, challenging jobs.”

The New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, New Hampshire’s state-wide chamber of commerce, is the headquarters for the State’s business community.  So this could be just the beginning of business support for the State’s education strategy.

And then the Manchester Board of City Schools met last night.  The new state educational standards, based on the Common Core State Standards, were at the top of the agenda.

Even without district leadership in implementing the new standards over the last years, individual schools and teachers have rolled out new lesson plans based the standards and begun seeing the results in their classrooms.  Nonetheless, Common Core opponents have flooded Manchester – testifying at meetings, leafletting door-to-door – looking for a high profile rejection of the Common Core in the State’s largest school district.

It was teed up for a vote last night.  And vote they did.

Everyone in the room at the Manchester Board of City Schools meeting last night seemed to know what had just happened – except the Union Leader with its headline trumpeting a Common Core defeat.  Actually, the board’s 13-1 vote for a face saving resolution represented  unanimous in support of the Common Core.  Here’s how they did it.

The board voted to support the proposal of Manchester’s new Superintendent, Dr. Debra Livingston, to create “Manchester Academic Standards” with Common Core State Standards as a “floor.”  Administrators would have the ability to enhance the standards as much as they want.  The only “dissenting” vote was from Chris Stewart who said the resolution was not the pure common core support that he wanted.  That made the it unanimous – Mr. Stewart for an in-your-face Common Core win and the rest of the board for a resolution that will allow Manchester’s teachers and administrators to move forward under the new standards without forcing Mayor Gatsas and others to face a contentious election season vote.

This was just the kind of direction Manchester super-teacher Selma Nacach-Hoff was calling for from her district leadership.

The board put off for another day the discussion of whether the district would also create its own annual assessment to substitute for the Smarter Balanced assessment that every other district in the State will use.  In the meantime, board members opposing the Common Core satisfied themselves that their vote would preserve “local control” while Common Core supporters understood that local control is the foundation of the State’s Common Core strategy which calls for each district to create it’s own curriculum and lesson plans – and any desired enhancements to the standards.

The Mayor of the city that does not have the funds to staff its classrooms and relies heavily on state and federal money to educate its children said that, in going its own way, Manchester would provide a model for the State.

That could be true.  The resolution Manchester Board of City Schools passed last night could indeed serve as a model for any district wanting to diffuse Common Core controversy locally: just resolve to make its own standard  – with the Common Core as the “floor.”

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