12-20-2013 News

There have been major developments in the battle over the imposition of the Common Core national standards in this state.  As followers of this show know, the State Department of Education has proposed significant changes to E D 3 0 6, the state rules that govern local districts.  Those rules are under review by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules and have been since September.  Girard at Large has learned that the committee, known as “JLCAR,” has postponed any action on the rules until at least January 17th for quote unquote  “unresolved issues.”  The committee was supposed to meet and take action on the rules today.  If adopted, the proposed changes, which have provoked opposition from education groups around the state, including the New Hampshire School Board’s Association, would have a profound impact on the school districts in matters of required policies, practices and finances.  Recent testimony presented to JLCAR by Nashua School Board Member and State Representative Dr. David Murotake underscored many of these concerns, pointing out the extraordinary power they would give the state and federal governments over local school boards and districts.  More importantly, in his testimony, he related the experiences of many Nashua teachers who sat for the Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment that the State Board of Education has adopted and required school districts to adopt unless they come up with an acceptable alternative on their own.  According to Murotake, the experience was a miserable one for the teachers he heard from.  Some of the comments he presented in his testimony to JLCAR include:  “It was a shockingly negative experience;” “Totally grade level inappropriate; difficult for even teachers with advanced degrees;” “Seems the test was designed more as a psychological or sociological experiment, not as a measure of academic learning;” “This would be a crushing emotional experience for my students” and “It would be nothing less than child abuse for my special education students.”  Common Core opponents note that the feedback of Nashua’s teachers sounds an awful like the feedback coming out of the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Kentucky where the tests have been administered to students statewide and teachers and parents, particularly in New York, are in a state of revolt against their departments of Education.  We’ve published Murotake’s testimony, which isn’t all that long, actually, and the contact information for JLCAR members so that those in the public who still want to submit their comments on the matter may do so.  There are several members who live in our listening area and they need to hear from you, no matter what your concerns.  Our thanks to those who sent the information our way.  This is why LOCAL matters!

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Just two days after the Hooksett School Board voted to approve a ten year tuition contract with Pinkerton Academy in Derry, think of that ride everyday, the State Department of Education officially recognized its legal settlement with the Manchester School District as a tuition contract; something the Hooksett board asked the state to do several weeks ago.  We understand that means that Manchester remains a school maintained by Hooksett for the next four years in the eyes of the state.  In light of Hooksett’s action to designate Pinkerton as its quote un-quote high school of record and assign all of its outgoing eighth graders there for the next decade, it remains to be seen just what the state D O E’s action means, if anything.  Meanwhile, fallout in the wake of the board’s decision has been swift and certain.  Town Council Chairman James Sullivan, who has declared his candidacy for the school board, said all of the school board members behavior must stop, calling them disgraceful.  He predicts the election will be a perfect storm against the Pinkerton contract asserting people will vote no for many reasons, including they don’t like the school board, won’t want to be forced to go all the way to Derry for high school, will want to have maximum choices, and don’t trust the board to follow any contract, agreement, rule, law or proper procedures.  Sullivan hammered the board for not clearly explaining what was before the public and not properly informing or taking input from the public.  Sullivan supported the angry, emotional comments of Board Secretary and former School Board Chair Leanne Moynahan saying the town’s folk are disgusted, embarrassed and appalled with the school board and have had enough.  Finally, Board Vice Chair David Pearl has called Board Chair Trisha Korkosz out for comments reported in the newspaper.  Pearl says Korkosz divulged non-public information in saying it was a matter of debate whether or not Hooksett notified Manchester of the number of students that will attend school next year and for representing a  conclusion the board had not reached, that being they felt Manchester was notified.  Gotta love this stuff!

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.