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Tea party legislators on a “search and destroy mission” aimed at the NH Department of Education? You decide.

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In 2012, the O’Brien legislature considered shutting down the New Hampshire Department of Education.  Now in the minority, opponents of public education have taken a different approach.  On January 28, 2014, Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) presented her bill, HB 1397, to authorize a stacked study committee  to go after DOE.

The thesis is that that DOE has gone rogue, establishing an unauthorized new division to implement the Common Core in a stealth mode.

There can be no doubt about the intention of the bill.  The study committee would be made up of 2 House Republicans, 2 House Democrats and one Republican appointed by the president of the Senate, a guaranteed Republican majority.  The next section, about Duties, sends the committee deep into conspiracy land to ferret out law-breaking within DOE.

The hearing brought Common Core opponents out in force, as you see on this highlight reel:

That’s not a recognizable portrait to most who deal with NHDOE.  Long time disability rights advocate Bonnie Dunham testified about how responsive DOE has been to her concerns and characterizes the bill as a “search and destroy mission.”

And here is Heather Gage, Director of the Division of Educational Improvement and Chief of Staff, New Hampshire Department of Education, responding to each issue raised by supporters.

There is little prospect that this bill will get serious support, but it will serve as an early indicator of where legislators stand on the Common Core.


  1. Scott Marion says:

    I wish the critics of the CCSS would at least attempt a serious critique grounded in some reality instead of just throwing lies at the wall with hopes that at least one or more of the lies will stick

  2. Heather Gage was hired in 2013 as the Director of the unauthorized Division of Instruction at the nomination of the Commissioner of Education. She is not the NH DoE Chief of Staff. Nor is she the Director of the long-lost Division of Educational Improvement. Facts are facts.

    Do some research before calling your opponents names. It’s so juvenile.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Doris, you are just misinformed. DOE is entitled under the law to rename for vernacular use any division it wants. And every title I gave Heather Gage is correct. Those are the facts.

      I’m not sure what the name calling reference is but if you mean that I quoted Bonnie Dunham saying that the bill is a search and destroy mission, I’d definitely stand behind that. As Rep. Cormier made clear in her testimony, she has a long list of law-breaking actions she says (before she studies them) DOE has taken, in particular in how it has implemented the Common Core, but she is wrong in every instance. Therefore, it is clear to me that what Bonnie said is right.

      All this legal talk is a waste time. If you or Rep. Cormier have a legal issue, sue the State and get a decision.

  3. Would you please forward the statute, which allows the DoE to rename its divisions and mislead the governor and council when approving the DoE’s nominated candidates?

    Our research has uncovered many examples of overreach. The public needs answers to make insure that the DoE acts within its authority. It’s our duty to keep our government in check.

    The judiciary isn’t our only recourse. The legislature needs to adjust their laws, if authority delegated to the DoE is abused.

  4. Bill Duncan says:

    For the record, I have received a couple of posts from an anonymous commenter calling herself Gadsten Girl saying things along the line of, “What’s wrong Bill? Why do you censor posts from real teachers who have a story to tell? Shame on you, but you folks pushing the common core are pushing your political agendas on our kids….[etc.]”

    I’m not concerned about the content of the comments but I just don’t approve most anonymous commenters because the lack of accountability just leads to conversations that don’t contribute to a real discussion.

  5. You have every right to set your own policies on your own blog, but keep in mind that teachers may not feel that they can openly criticize school policies without risking their livelihood. It’s difficult to protect the interest of your students when doing so endangers the welfare of your own family and children. Quite the dilemma, wouldn’t you say?

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Oh, I don’t agree at all, Doris. First, I have no way to know that this commenter is a teacher, much less an active teacher.

      Secondly, as everyone knows, teachers with over 5 years in the job have…well, not tenure, but job protection. There is no way a teacher could be fired or harmed in any other way for disagreeing about the quality of the new standards. Just imagine the uproar!

      In fact, as you know well, teachers and a principal in Nashua have been critical about the testing technology. And very visible. They don’t seem to be fearful.

      No, that riff about fear keeping teachers from speaking up is just an excuse for the fact that you cannot find NH teachers who are experienced with the Common Core but are negative about it.

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