I’ll stop short of saying last night’s meeting of the Manchester School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee was raucous, but it sure was animated as nearly twenty speakers took to the microphones. All but three who spoke were opposed to the district adopting the standards. As for the three who spoke in favor, they were Manchester teachers who’d been paid to realign the city’s curriculum over the summer. Even they had a questions, with one of them saying there’s a lot more to learn about what they are and how they work. Highlights of the evening included testimony for George D’Orazio from Ward 10 who recounted the story of how Massachusetts managed to directly or indirectly involve over fifty thousand of its citizens when it undertook an overhaul of its standards beginning in nineteen ninety three. Sibohan Tautkus of Ward 1, a former education policy aid to Governor Steve Merrill, hammered the nonsensical actions of the federal government on everything from denying Manchester’s request to NOT test kids who don’t speak the English until they do, to special education failures, to forcing teachers to incorrectly teach math because they goofed up the test and asked just what does the federal government do well? Richard Dumont, a former school board member from Ward 2 who once chaired the “C and I” Committee recounted the battles over the implementation of Outcome Based Education programs like Whole Word Language versus phonics and asked why the district would implement a massive experimental overhaul of what it does instead of relying on proven methodologies, especially given all the major unanswered questions. He also challenged the claim that Common Core’s just a set of standards noting how teaching methods, classroom materials and testing are all being realigned to do it their way. Folks I could go on as there were so many great speakers, like math teacher Natalie Brankin of Ward 6 who just dismantled the math standards and Ward 11 State Rep. Emily Sandblade, a former college professor, who said the administration deserved a C or a D for their poor non-answers to the questions she posed back in August on behalf of her constituents.
In the end, the committee voted unanimously to refer the matter to the School Board’s next meeting without a recommendation and request that Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry be present to answer questions. They also adopted Ward 9 School Board Member Arthur Beaudry‘s motion to create a committee to further examine the Common Core State Standards and as well as the Smarter Balanced testing regime and investigate alternatives the city could choose from, including the pre-Core standards from Massachusetts, often cited by speakers and critics around the country as the best in the nation. The committee would have members of the public and the profession in addition to school board members. Only Ward 8 school board member Erika Connors opposed the motion arguing that if the committee was going to send the matter to the board without a recommendation, then it shouldn’t recommend a committee. She originally moved to adopt the standards, but not the test and have the district monitor their implementation and effectiveness. After a hastily called recess by Chairman Sarah Ambrogi, she withdrew the motion. We’ve linked to the heavily trafficked live blog from last night’s meeting for your convenience. This, you’ve got to read! Of course, we’ll be talking about this this morning.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
G O P U S Senate Candidate Jim Rubens has taken Jeanne Shaheen to the woodshed for saying Obamacare is having quote “a real positive impact already on people’s lives.” End quote. Rubens cited statements from Democrat state senators Betty Lasky of Nashua and Sylvia Larson of Concord who recently expressed concern over the impact of Obamacare on women’s health issues after Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it was dropping ten of the twenty six hospitals in its network and cutting twenty five percent of its participating physicians loose because of the increased costs, taxes, fees and service mandates imposed by the plan. Neither Shaheen nor the state’s two congresswomen, Carol Shea Porter and Annie Kuster, have announced whether or not they and their staffs will accept Obamacare or the waiver that will allow them to stay status quo come October 1st. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Comprehensive Kelly Ayotte announced her opposition to defunding Obamacare through the continuing resolution process, although she’s still opposed to it…gimme a break, and First District G O P congressional candidate Frank Guinta announced his support for the move by House Republicans to de-fund it.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is just 30 seconds away!