Last night’s debate over the Common Core national standards was as revealing and enlightening as it was, well, frightening. Those arguing the standards weren’t something we should get involved with included Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison for Cornerstone Policy Research, Jamie Gass from the Pioneer Institute and Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project. Those arguing in favor of the standards were Board of Education members Bill Duncan and Chairman Tom Raffio and Dr. David Pook a teacher at The Derryfield School in Manchester. Pook, who teachers Social Studies and English, was one of the folks who had input into the English Language Arts standards panned by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the content expert hired by Common Core to validate the standards that refused to validate the standards.
Frankly folks, it was an eye opening presentation that really drew a bright red line under where we are today as a society. While the opponents of Common Core routinely read from the organization’s own documents about the standards and what would be required to meet them and cited study after study arguing against the recommendations, the folks in favor offered little more than quotes from teachers who have little experience using the standards to say they’re just great. In a telling question and answer session, a lady in the audience asked Raffio and Duncan if they could provide any studies to show the proposed standards and methods were of legitimate value, Duncan answered it was quote “scientific enough” end quote to talk to teachers who were using the standards. Raffio simply referenced all of the work that went into developing them.
While Raffio and Duncan continued to deny the standards infringed on local control or amounted to a federal take over of education, they also failed to answer questions raised by Banfield about why, if it’s not a federal takeover, is the state asking for waivers and permission to do what it believes is best and why localities aren’t able to make decisions without state permission. Raffio also upset a parent who told the story of how his daughter came home from Bedford High with a Common Core questionnaire asking about the medical history of every member of the family and asked about data collection. Raffio told him data collection in conjunction with Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment was a quote “misconception” end quote to which the parent asked then why are they asking for this data and what are they going to do with it? Crickets still chirping on that one.
One of the money shots of the night came at the expense of Pook whom Banfield said isn’t getting complaints about what’s happening in classrooms at The Derryfield School like she is about public schools because Derryfield considers the standards inferior and isn’t using them. Pook never addressed why his employer isn’t using the standards he touts as great but in his closing argument, Pook justified the standards saying and I quote “As a white male in society, I’m given a lot of privilege I didn’t earn. And, as a result, I think it’s really important that all the kids get an equal opportunity to learn how to read” and he went on to talk about his experience in a Chicago school. Of course, he never actually explained why he, a white man enjoying privileged he didn’t earn is teaching at a pricey private institution that only the very wealthy can afford to send their kids to and isn’t using his “make it fair to everyone else by lowering the quality” standards. Banfield and McGroarty will be our guests in the eight o’clock hour. We’ve linked to the amazing audio which we’ve archived and our real time blog of the debate at Girard at Large dot com.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
A new controversy is brewing at the Hooksett School Board and it’s one that is likely to have a price tag. Seems a group of parents who send their kids to other than Manchester schools has come forward to say the school board owes them money. Board policy has been to pay any non-Manchester school the base Manchester tuition rate with the parents making up the difference between that amount and what the school they’re sending their kids to charges. Paying the difference is the parents obligation, which they agree to when attending a school under Policy J C B. Several parents have questioned the base tuition rate noting that the board pays Manchester an estimated payment in the fall and then another amount in the spring which reflects the district’s actual cost of educating the town’s kids. For example, last year the estimated tuition rate was eighty three hundred dollars and the actual was ninety three hundred. Parents who are out of pocket the differential are wondering why the board isn’t paying them the extra thousand bucks they paid to Manchester arguing that the base tuition rate is whatever the town pays to Manchester, excluding capital costs. Superintendent Charles “Chucky the Super” Littlefield seems to be arguing that the base rate is the estimated rate, but I’m not sure he’s going to win that one. We’ll keep an eye on it.
Attorney General Joseph Foster and Employment Securities Director George Copadis are warning New Hampshire residents of a major employment scam into which they’ve opened an investigation. In a press statement, the two said it appears the perpetrators are utilizing the names of legitimate New Hampshire companies to send-mails to New Hampshire job seekers claiming to be interested in hiring them for current job openings. The e-mail is designed to obtain confidential information from the job seeker and to steal money or their identity or both. The fake companies often require job seekers to provide personal bank account information so that the “employer” can then send them funds to purchase certain software or equipment they will need in order to perform the job. We’ve posted their release with all the details with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.