Come to the Hollis Brookline Common Core forum on March 29

To the Editor:

Common Core has been called the most sweeping education reform program in the history of the United States.

Now into its third year of implementation here in Hollis and Brookline, school officials have been working to align standards and curricula with the Common Core due to state level adoption of Common Core assessments. All the while, parents and school board members have had little or no real knowledge about Common Core and are just now starting to discover the many ways it will affect our students’ education.

At the Jan. 30 SAU 41 presentation on Common Core it was clear that our local school district officials have been tasked with implementing it because of decisions made by the New Hampshire Department of Education (a committee comprised of unelected officials). We learned then that our SAU 41 School Board was asked to officially adopt Common Core 1.5 years after if was already in implementation in our district.

Prior to the SAU School Board vote, there was no comprehensive presentation, discussion or debate on Common Core. Rather, the minutes of the meeting on Nov. 12, 2012, reveal that the board was asked to adopt these sweeping reforms based on exactly one sentence from a one-page strategic planning document that was incomplete. That’s how Common Core was officially adopted in our district. It is reasonable to find this process wholly inadequate.

What is Common Core? The official Common Core document produced by The National Governor’s Association reveals that it is a massive system of education. It’s a broad-based five-step national plan that just begins with new standards, and then reaches into all levels of curriculum and technology. The document goes on to suggest a “new vision of federal and state partnership in education.”

But what does that mean? The language is very broad and much is being promised while the details and consequences of its implementation are not clear, except in states that are already years ahead of us in their implementation of Common Core. And, the results are not pretty. Of the 45 states that originally adopted Common Core, 30-plus are considering legislation to do everything from re-evaluate it, slow its implementation, address complications and problems arising from it, or halt it altogether. An increasing number of parents, teachers and legislators across the country where Common Core is more fully implemented are in an uproar about it.

I don’t know about you, but this whole thing is very concerning. The Common Core standards and new statewide Common Core/Smarter Balance assessments are driving the bus more and more in terms of local decision-making. And, these standards, assessments and curricula are very controversial and hotly debated.

On a practical level, parents are waking up to find that things are changing and maybe not for the better. If the new Common Core math has come home to your kitchen table and you’ve tried to assist your children, then you likely know just how confusing, frustrating and stressful it is for you and your students. You are not alone.

On Jan. 30, at the SAU 41 Common Core presentation, Interim Superintendent John Moody reminded concerned citizens that it was up to us to become informed, get involved and speak out. It was clear from the presentation that the Common Core train has already left the station and our administrators don’t have a lot of influence over that. Does that sound like local control of education to you?

Before the Common Core train goes any farther, common sense demands that we have an in depth forum to help citizens, school board members and elected officials gain a much more comprehensive understanding of what is common core is all about. Parents and citizens must become involved or our local control of education will continue to erode.

Please come to the Common Core Forum for Understanding on March 29, from 4-6:30 p.m. and bring your questions. There will be plenty of time to ask them.

This forum is being facilitated by concerned Hollis/Brookline residents, not by any political activist group.

Bring your neighbors and your questions.