Common Core and common sense

To the Editor:

I have never written to the local paper until today and knew very little about Common Core until the SAU presentation at the end of January.

As I researched Common Core, I couldn’t help but notice online videos of parents across America speaking at school board meetings passionately saying, “This is hurting my child … stop it!” These parents were not ideologues playing politics. These parents were speaking up for their children.

I thought “How sad for them … so glad I live in Hollis, N.H.,” but then I read the testimony of a Hollis Brookline High School parent whose 11th grade honors student has been very negatively impacted by Common Core teaching strategies. Their daughter tearfully told her parents, “I just want to learn in a real classroom with my peers and be taught by a teacher. Is that too much to ask for?”

To read the testimony yourself, Google Diane Pauer HB1508 (it will be the first search result).

That was local. That got my attention. What I have learned about how the standards were developed and how they are being implemented is concerning.

Common sense would say if we are going to move toward nationalized education standards, we would prudently look at America’s best performing districts/states, analyze the data and implement the best practices. None of that happened with Common Core.

There is no evidence the Common Core teaching styles being implemented are helpful, no evidence the standards will improve our education. In fact, there are significant concerns from educators that the standards are developmentally inappropriate for younger children and could harm our younger children’s interest in learning.

Common sense would lead one to believe if the standards can be improved and changed they should be. But there is no process to change, adapt or update the standards. Why?

Common sense would ask why for profit education companies had so much influence in developing the standards and the testing? Why are we giving private education companies so much influence over our public education?

Common sense would dictate some kind of field test be done before rolling out this unproven educational process to nearly the entire country, but that is not being done. Why? Because the U.S. Department of Education has chosen to tie federal funds and waivers from the hugely unpopular and onerous No Child Left Behind law to incentivize states to implement the program. Our New Hampshire Legislature just killed bills that would have slowed this down primarily because failure to kill the bills would have threatened receiving those federal funds.

When this many yellow and red lights are flashing on a major program, which will impact nearly all our kids, the common sense response would be to slow down, study, adapt and adjust. That is not happening.

It seems that money and political interests are being prioritized over our children and their education. Perhaps common sense is no longer so common.

Our community voted to reject Common Core on March 26. In response, our school boards should assert local control by at least opting out of the controversial Common Core computerized Smarter Balance test, which is very expensive and has a number of data/privacy concerns. In addition, our school boards should address the unfair Common Core grading practices and inefficient/ineffective teaching strategies mentioned in the testimony noted above.