Eagle Tribune reporter John Toole wrote a piece yesterday with a telling quote from Cornerstone:
Cornerstone, announcing a forum last month with AFP at St. Anselm College, said many parents, teachers and legislators are questioning and opposing Common Core.
“How will Common Core impact home-school and private school students? What about all the data collection on students and their families? What will this cost taxpayers?” Cornerstone asked.
There it is. The Common Core debate in New Hampshire is being driven by homeschoolers and privatization advocates like Cornerstone out of concern for how improved public education standards might eventually affect voucher and home schools. Just stop and think about that for a minute. These folks are part of a national effort that would shut down public education and replace it with private and home schools but still want to set policy for New Hampshire public education. In case it might eventually affect them.
Here is Cornerstone advocating for vouchers last year, saying that New Hampshire standards are so bad that students need private tutors to be successful in school. Now the same folks oppose a improving New Hampshire academic standards because of “all the data collection on students and their families?” Where does this concern come from? There is no serious risk to student data privacy in New Hampshire. Nor does cost appear to be a serious issue. No. Cornerstone is clear about its real concern, asserting that “teachers” are concerned about the question:
“How will Common Core impact home-school and private school students?”
Personally, I doubt it. But Cornerstone’s frequent advocacy partner, Jamie Gass, from the free market Pioneer Institute says he opposes the Common Core for the same reason: it might affect charter and voucher schools.
Adoption of the Common Core became a political issue in Manchester driven largely by a local radio talk show host who serves on the board of and sends his kids to the the libertarian Liberty Harbor Academy, an advocate for privatization of New Hampshire public education. Here is Manchester master teacher Selma Nacach- Hoff pleading with the school board to move beyond that political debate and exercise its responsibility for curriculum leadership. And the school board did do the right thing last week.
Homeschoolers and private and religious schools funded with vouchers operate with no accountability in New Hampshire. So advocates seem to want a public debate about the Common Core because, at some time in the future, they might feel cramped by the effort to improve New Hampshire public education.
As a result, we will have at least 5 bills in the upcoming legislative session and a number of school boards around the state are earnestly debating the merits of the Common Core, a clear step forward for New Hampshire public education, because homeschoolers and voucher advocates are concerned that their rights might eventually be infringed.
We pride ourselves on our open public debate here in New Hampshire. I hope that will never change. Common Core opponents should get a fair public hearing. But legislators and school board members should not allow themselves to be sidetracked by the Common Core red herrings offered by advocates for privatization of public education.