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The Tea Party’s generic arguments about the Common Core in MA and NY don’t speak to NH parents

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teacher at the back of classroom of old desks and kidsI’ve received some push back for this quote in the Portsmouth Herald yesterday:

“The push in New Hampshire right now (against Common Core) is (from the) tea party, no question,” said Bill Duncan, a New Castle resident and public education advocate.

Some have contacted me to say, with some passion, that they do not consider themselves Tea Party members but they do have questions about the Common Core.  They are responding as if the quote said, “If you oppose the Common Core, you must be a Tea Party member.”  But, of course, that isn’t it.  My observation was that the organized Common Core opposition in New Hampshire is from the Tea Party.

And as far as I can see, it is.  In fact, the New Hampshire Tea Party is proud of its role in opposing the new standards.

There have been two public anti-Common Core forums and and one private forum (for Seacoast Republican Women) that I’m aware of, all sponsored by Tea Party member Cornerstone Action (see “Member Groups” here).  There has been one opinion piece circulated in various forms to various papers.  Same source.  The second local group in the forefront is Tea Party member New Hampshire Families for Education.  The outside group on which the local groups rely is the Boston free market advocacy group, the Pioneer Institute, supporting Tea Party anti-Common Core groups around the country (and here and here and many others beyond New Hampshire).  It’s the same few people on the stage every time.  The legislator making the most noise is Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), endorsed by, you guessed it, Cornerstone.  Anti-Common Core legislator David Murotake (R-Nashua) is endorsed by the libertarian Tea Party member NH Liberty Alliance.  It goes on and on.

There really can’t be much question that the Tea Party has adopted the Common Core as a national issue and that the locals have followed suit.

What’s interesting is that the pushback has come from people insulted to see their position linked with what one person called “just some crazy Tea Party obstructionism.”

This is where it gets interesting.

It’s true that there are opponents to the Common Core from the left and the right, a point I have made here before.  But many oppose the new standards because they see them as part of the national push for corporate-style education reform.  And I certainly agree that those proposals are misguided.

But those proposals are not education policy in New Hampshire.  The complaints about New York – a separate political planet from New Hampshire – are not applicable here.  Complaints about Race to the Top are legitimate but not applicable in the state that got the best No Child Left Behind waiver in the country.  Our waiver agreement, negotiated based on years of work with New Hampshire educators and legislators, put in place a New Hampshire education policy based on local control and support for teachers and students.  That’s the opposite of the New York policy that drives teacher compensation with punitive evaluation systems and promotes charters at the expense of district schools.

But people still send their local papers letters like this one, a New York school principal complaining about how national education reform policies are working in New York.  And I just did a forum alongside Common Core opponents who spent their time talking about Massachusetts, New York and California.

That national education debate is important.  It’s about the future of our country.  But it offers little about the Common Core that is relevant to New Hampshire parents.


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