New Hampshire began implementing Obama’s redesign in public education (dubbed Common Core) for several years now. This redesign model comes from one of the architects of the Common Core Standards, Marc Tucker. This new agenda involves moving publics schools away from the liberal arts education model based on the Carnegie Unit to a workforce development model.
How many parents in New Hampshire pushed for this transformation in their public schools? Let’s face it, NONE. This newest reform is sold as a “state led” effort but as I will go through this transformation, you will see how the idea that this is state led, is nothing but a farce.
The Obama redesign consists of states:
1) Adopting the dumbed down Common Core standards in Math and English (done)
2) Adopting the new dumbed down Next Generation Science Standards (in process)
3) Adopting the new dumbed down the national Social Studies Standards (to come)
4) Requiring teacher evaluations tied to the Common Core tests (done per HB142)
5) Requiring schools to use Competency Based Education model (aka..Outcome Based Education) (done)
6) Data mining of information on your children (done)
The data collected helps the State to determine where your child fits into the workforce. It’s a BIG government, centralized bureaucratic system that will put your child on a track to either college or career.
In addition to the Common Core Standards, New Hampshire Schools are also implementing the Outcome Based Ed model, called Competency Based Education. No parents asked for this transformation in their public schools, but they are seeing it fully implemented.
As Heidi Sampson, State Board of Education Member in Maine described this model, “Outcome Based Education decades ago was the last big push to change the nature and outcomes of our public education. It destroys traditional education, its methods, curriculum, and its means of assessment, time frames and goals. The Competency-Based model will only teach students what to think, not how to think. It will necessarily lower the bar in an attempt to equalize outcomes… and that never works.” (1)
How well is this working in New Hampshire? One School Board member in Rochester described it like this, “Our children who excel are now bored, unmotivated, and suffer from mediocrity. There is absolutely no “rigor” to the competencies and I have seen the work from 2nd, 4th, and 6th grades and, in my opinion, it is substandard. There is less work performed this year than last. No homework, children can redo work and assessments again and again and again. This is a practice in the middle and high school. Adults know that they cannot make the same mistakes again and again and again and expect to have a job. Why teach our children that way?” (2)
Many parents in New Hampshire do not realize that “Common Core” and “Competency Based Ed,” is being implemented in their school district and that it’s being facilitated with the help of the New Hampshire Department of Education. But the assistance to implement the Obama Education reform goes beyond the NH DoE because the NH DoE needs help from the legislative body too.
Marc Tucker knew that an education reform that comes directly from the Feds would be met with resistance from those who understand the limits of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s why this reform needs the help of state departments of education and state legislators. If the Feds can push the Obama education reform through the states, the backlash shouldn’t be as severe. So they thought.
How are the Feds accomplishing this enormous task? With the help of legislators like Nancy Stiles (R) and Representative Rick Ladd (R).
A few years ago, Sen. Stiles introduced SB48 that changed the statute on school performance and accountability. The bill repealed the local education improvement fund established under the statewide assessment program and established definitions of “priority school” and “focus school.”
That same year, Rep. Rick Ladd (R) introduced HB142 which implemented a teacher and principal evaluation system. Every evaluation must include a weight of 20% on student growth measures. These new regulations would be directed at schools that receive Title 1 funds.
This legislation was so important to the Feds that they used coercive measures like the “No Child Left Behind Waiver” as the tool to get New Hampshire to comply.
One would think legislators in a state that prides itself on local control would at least be cautious of sponsoring state laws and regulations that carry forward a federal education reform agenda. Unfortunately not only did we see caution thrown to the wind, these two legislators worked to implement the Obama education agenda by sponsoring the legislation.
Schools are now categorized as Priority or Focus schools based on how well their students perform on the Common Core aligned assessments. During the debate on SB48, many legislators were in denial that this Bill would push a Common Core agenda in the public schools. However as we continue to watch Manchester maneuver their way through this process, it’s becoming clear that SB48 put in motion the ability of the State to intercede to further incorporate the Common Core agenda in schools like Manchester.
In this document from the NH Dept. of Education, you can see the plan for the public schools laid out if they fall into the Priority and Focus category.(3)
Professional learning opportunities that support educator effectiveness and college- and career-ready standards can be found on page 42. College and career ready standards ARE Common Core Standards.
Essentially what happens is, the New Hampshire Department of Education will step in and offer remediation services to the Priority or Focus Schools. As you scroll through that document, you will note that there is no reference to parents as a source for improving the local schools but plenty of references to implementing Common Core.
As Manchester continues to struggle with the poor quality of math in the elementary schools, one would think asking for input from parents would be the priority. Parents in the district have expressed their frustration with the fuzzy Everyday math program in their schools. However under the Obama agenda, the goal is not to solicit information and opinions from parents, but rather incorporate a plan to further drive Common Core curriculum and the Competency Based Education model in the public schools.
With the term “Common Core” becoming toxic bureaucrats simply changed the name to “College and Career ready standards. The NH Department of Education is now there to facilitate the Obama redesign regardless of whether parents want this model or not.
Since the Manchester Public schools fall into the Priority school category they must begin the process of remediation. Manchester developed an “Innovation Zone Implementation Plan ” in October 28, 2013. Within this plan, you can see the Obama redesign model within the plan. For instance #17 addresses the Principal and Teacher evaluations based on the 20% of student growth.
Several courageous teachers around New Hampshire are now speaking out about the problems these reforms are having in their classrooms. They are given scripts to follow and yet if they follow the script and the students do not perform well on the scripted assessments, who gets the blame? Certainly not the bureaucrats who came up with this reform. (4)
The Manchester School District Strategic Plan (DRAFT) further drives the Innovative Plan. If you scroll down to page 16 under 5.1 you will see a reference to employing the P21 framework as a guide. (5)
Through these “Innovative and Strategic” plans which were put in place through SB48 and sponsored by Senator Stiles, the Obama agenda in education will be carried out without the input or knowledge of Manchester parents. This is how a top-down education reform works. First the Federal Department of Education sets the plan and then the State officials begin the process of passing legislation or rules that force it into the public schools.
It’s important that parents know that the P21 framework is based on the failed Outcome Based Education model (OBE). OBE is another fad that shifts a teacher’s focus away from academic excellence to dumbed down workforce skills. The NH DoE should at least be required to show independent data that proves this model has improved academic achievement.
In other words, P21, School to Work, Outcome Based Ed, 21st Century Skills, or Competency Based Ed all mean the same thing. It is the fundamental transformation of public education from an academic liberal arts model to a dumbed down workforce training model. A model that parents in New Hampshire never asked for.
There has been a struggle between those who want to continue to improve upon the liberal arts model by focusing on improving the academic content and those who want to abolish this model so schools focus on non-academic workforce skills.
The argument against P21 was made years ago by a group of individuals fighting for literacy and academic excellence. They challenged the idea that public schools should be transformed into workforce training centers. This organization, ironically named Common Core at that time had NO connection to the Common Core Standards Initiative we are familiar with today. DO NOT confuse these two organizations.
While it appears this former organization no longer operates as an organization, one can certainly read from their document about how the P21 model, “marginalizes knowledge and therefore will deny students the liberal education they need.”
They go on to say, “Attempts to teach skills apart from knowledge have failed repeatedly over the last century because they do not work. Unless it is fundamentally revised, the program put forth by P21 also will fail. In the meantime, it is undermining the quality of education in America.” (6)
How do they know this? Because the current Competency Based or P21 reform being implemented in Manchester, has been tried numerous times in the past. Competency Based Education isn’t new or innovative, it’s based the old Outcome Based Education model. In other words, the Obama education reform is being implemented in the Manchester schools with help from the NH Dept. of Ed and by legislators like Senator Stiles as prime sponsor of SB48 and supporter of Competency Based Ed in New Hampshire .
What do the workforce competencies look like and what are they based on? The SCANS report as described in this 2001 report from the Heritage Foundation. (6) The author reports, “Proponents claim that for students to attain higher levels of academic achievement, education must be relevant to the real world: that is, to the world of work. They assert that integrating academic and vocational education in every subject for all grades will produce this relevancy. Thus, STW is much more than career awareness and guidance counseling; it is career integration in every discipline, across all subjects, at all grade levels, in all schools.”
This is exactly what is happening in the New Hampshire schools including the Manchester Public schools as you can see in the Manchester draft report.
You can also view the Obama agenda to redesign schools by visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s web site. (7)
The failures of these past reforms show how OBE is based on behavioral objectives not on literacy or academic achievement. If parents are looking for schools to focus on improving the academic content in the curriculum, they will not find it through this latest reform agenda put forth by the Obama administration.
As the Manchester School district continues with implementing the Obama education reform through the NH DoE and legislators willing to sponsor and work for laws that support this reform, it’s a good time to reflect on how your district got here and whether this is something you want for your children.
You are the ones paying for this reform in your school whether you like it or not. It is your children who will be subjected to this latest reform. It’s now up to you to decide whether you want to get involved in maintaining the status quo or working as a community to demand a quality academic program of studies for your children.