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Why wouldn't we want not high standards, but the highest?

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

I have a few questions in response to Anne Rogers letter where she regurgitates the "party line" on Common Core Standards.
The ONLY reason for expending the massive time and resources instituting any new standards should be that it would benefit the children of N.H., I'm sure you would agree.
You state that these new Common Core Standards are more rigorous than N.H.'s current standards. I'm willing to concede that point however, it is also true (as you yourself seemingly point out) that the Common Core Standards are NOT the most rigorous of existing, time-tested standards that could have been adopted by N.H. State Board (or may still be adopted by individual school districts).

So I ask you, given that we all seem to agree that new standards were needed. . . Why would any school district not adopt the highest standards possible for it's children?
This has been asked of the N.H. State Board of Education time and time again. . . Where is the comprehensive analysis they used to make the monumental decision of using Common Core vs. adopting any of the more rigorous standards from other states (for example Massachusetts)? Surely they did this analysis. Why not share that with the public and the school districts so that they might perform their own critical analysis that ironically the Common Core Standards are designed to instill in our children? I suspect the state board did no such analysis. For shame if that is the case.

The commissioner stated herself on videotape this past week that "school districts should decide whether to use Common Core or another set of standards". She also stated that regardless of the standards used, the state will mandate that every k-12 public school student take the new assessment, Smarter Balance, (which will replace our failed NECAP tests) which are aligned to Common Core beginning in 2015. These Smarter Balance tests are eventually required to be taken on computer (thank you Mr Microsoft/Bill Gates for that!) leading school districts to significantly increase our school budgets for technology (purchases of bandwidth and computers for all). Why, you might ask, is this not unconstitutional? Section 28-a of our N.H. Constitution says that the state must pay for any mandates and yet no money is coming from the state or feds to pay for the outlay taxpayers in N.H. must endure.

Lastly, Ms. Rogers, among a number of inconsistencies in your response, let me point out just one,. You repeat the party line on the desire for commonality of standards across the country to create a "more level playing field" for those that frequently move. The Common Core Standards are supposed to be MINIMUM Standards, meaning that some states/districts will presumably desire to reach higher, in varying degrees, than these minimum Common Core Standards, correct? To continue your analogy of the NFL rules vs. the playbook, wouldn't this mean that some districts have a much thicker playbook and students moving into those districts would have the same difficulty of catching up to the other students? I believe this stated goal of commonality to accommodate transient society is a red-herring.

There is much, much more to contradict in your letter, Ms. Rogers but I would like each responsible parent to ask three simple questions of their school board. If you feel it necessary to change our standards, have you (or anyone else) examined ALL the available standards, weighted those that have a history of working, and chosen the highest standards possible for our children? If not, why not? Where is that analysis?

Gregory Hill