Back in 2010 when the New Hampshire State Board of Education adopted Common Core, I warned that this was a set up for failure. Not only would Common Core dumb down our public schools, we’d see other negative changes, including an exodus from public schools. Lower enrollment means there is less demand for teachers and why the Concord Monitor is reporting that there has been a decline in teaching jobs over the last decade.
“Public school enrollment has shrunk 11 percent over the past decade, according to state Department of Education data.“
Parents have filled public hearings on Common Core since 2010 begging legislators to end Common Core in New Hampshire. The only ones who publicly supported the dumbed down standards were mainly bureaucrats and the Business Industry Association (BIA). The BIA is NH’s Chamber of Commerce and it should be noted that the Chamber received a HUGE donation from the Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation is the entity that has been pushing Common Core since it’s inception.
The parents who were disappointed when (former) Governor Hassan would veto legislation to get rid of Common Core, moved on. Many are now home-schooling their children or found refuge for them at a private school. Not only has there been an exodus from public schools, teaching jobs are shrinking too.
Some schools are also looking to online resources to replace teachers. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the new education law signed by President Obama to replace No Child Left Behind. Â ESSA includes a major ed tech provision within the new flexible bock grant. The inclusion of the grant was a huge win for the ed tech industry. The funding will provide money for ed tech professional development, as well as devices and tools.
Online resources present a completely different set of problems in public education. The most obvious is the lack of one on one instruction from a qualified teaching professional. Anyone (myself included) who has tutored students, knows the value of personal instruction. As a math tutor myself, I could sense when a child did not understand the math concept, even if they didn’t want to admit it. I would then go back and reteach it to make sure that child fully understood the correct procedure. You will never get that from an online program.
The technology industry is there to sell a product. Their goal is a profit, which is very different from the goal of a highly qualified and dedicated teacher in the classroom. The teacher’s goal is to make sure their students are learning.
The tech industry has a product to sell and part of what they receive in return is personal data on children. This was highlighted in a recent Forbes article titled, “Why Schools Should Be Wary Of Free Tech Products — And Startups Shouldn’t Make Them.” According to Forbes,
“There really is no such thing as a free education technology product for the user because what’s more valuable than money? Data. If educators bring free tools into classrooms or schools, they maybe be giving their students data away without even realizing it…..reports from bloggers revealed that Edmodo had been tracking student and teacher users with cookies from DoubleClick (which advertisers and ad brokers use to conduct ad delivery to websites) in order to make some money.“
Those who think technology can successfully replace a good teacher isn’t paying attention to what is going on in public education today. While technology can certainly be a valuable tool, the push for more technology is coming from those who are profiting off of your child’s personal information. I’m not surprised by the decline in teaching jobs based on the push for technology and the federal education reforms.
Commissioner Frank Edelblut is trying to change this direction by reviewing the current standards and practices. He’s found resistance among some political factions who seem to be oblivious to the consequences that have contributed to the declining enrollments. Instead of supporting the Commissioner’s attempt to improve the quality of public education for our children, he’s found some of the State Board Members objecting.
What are they afraid of? Improving literacy? Improving our public schools? That seems to be the message coming from those who are objecting to improving academic standards in our state.
Finally, as one New Hampshire teacher, Diane Sekula recently said,
“I’m certified in Mass. There are many of us who go over the border to teach and it’s not without reason…..I still face things like ridiculous scripted lessons. However, MA has no choice but to bend in many ways to the educated and vocal parents and teachers. …. It is my teaching philosophy to try my hardest to provide my students with an education that mirrors the education that my own children receive at the private schools they are now forced to attend because of the insidious and callous nature of the school reform initiatives that have been allowed to creep in to New Hampshire public schools. … I’m sorry to say that if I were forced into a position where I had to send my kids to public schools again, they would be getting in my car at 5:45 am to drive to school with me. … … There really needs to be some changes for the better here for our children. Â What kind of a state allows things to get so bad?”
When public school teachers feel the need to escape teaching in New Hampshire AND remove their children from New Hampshire public schools due to the federal education reforms, maybe it’s time to take a serious look at the outcomes.
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at: [email protected]