02-07-2014 News

The War over the Common Core national education standards was played out in front of the New Hampshire General Court yesterday as the House Education Committee took testimony on House Bill fifteen oh eight.  Not only did the hearing have to be relocated to a larger room, it had to be continued at another time and there were simply too many speakers in the over capacity crowd.  While opponents of the national standards provided examples of the new Common Core aligned school work their children have brought home from school and raised fundamental points about academics and their teaching, supporters, largely superintendents who’d implemented the standards without a vote of approval from their school boards and other educrats, aired the familiar claims asserting the standards would make education the same across the country, improve global competitiveness, and produce students that were college and career ready, whatever that means.  But the marquee moment of the hearing came during the testimony of Virginia Barry, New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Education.  In addition to offering the well rehearsed, but unsubstantiated, platitudes about the national standards improving education, she said educators across the state were shocked at how such  quote “a small, loud group of misinformed individuals could continue to distort information about the standards” end quote  and not so subtlety implied they weren’t interested in improving education.  She also seemed to contradict herself at times saying on one hand, the standards were necessary to transform education in the state, but on the other they were voluntary and school districts could choose to adopt them or not.  She made no mention that her department had moved to require districts use the Smarter Balanced Assessment test, which, of course, is aligned to the standards, though she did say the test itself would improve education, but provided no evidence where that has proven to be the case.  She similarly made no mention of the rules changes the department’s trying to push through the legislature which install Common Core through the state’s Minimum Standards in Education, nor did she address how the state had imposed the paradigm on schools and districts across the state via the waiver it obtained from the No Child Left Act.  But, she did accuse opponents of acting against local control by attempting to remove the national standards from use.  Barry said the opposition was quote very old now end quote and causing stress on local districts and called on the committee to lead on the issue by deep sixing the bill and moving on, more or less as if there was nothing to see here.  Um, I’m thinking there’s something to see and say here, how about you?

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Republicans in New Boston gathered at the Whipple Free Library last night as the two currently declared candidates for congress in the Second District squared off in their first debate, which I had the honor and pleasure of moderating.  Former State Senator Colonel Gary Lambert of Nashua and State Representative Marilinda Garcia of Salem took any and all questions from the nearly fifty people in the room for nearly an hour and half.  What became evident as questioners quizzed the candidates was they were looking for someone who would go to Washington and not be co-opted or corrupted by it.  As one lady said afterward to me, she didn’t want another Kelly Ayotte who said one thing then fell under the spell of Senator John McCain to do another.  Many of the questions focused on how they would build and and maintain party unity and win the seat.  Questions about the size and scope of government dominated the night.  The two differed far more in style than they did on substance.  Lambert, a retired Marine Colonel, was direct, plain spoken and action oriented.  Some said he was a fighter and more of a quote unquote “in your face kind of guy.”  Garcia,  was characterized as more reserved, well spoken and thoughtful.  Both emphasized their independence and leadership capabilities in what was, I must say, a fascinating exchange between the people and those seeking to be elected by them.

A dramatic show down of sorts may be in the making at the Hooksett School Board.  In yet another disaster of a meeting, Superintendent Charles “Chucky the Super” Littlefield warned board members, especially John Lyscars, to be very clear and careful about what information they wanted to send to a lawyer on this question he’s raised about a hostile work place.  Lyscars had asked the board to send the transcript of Littlefield’s seven minute speech making the complaint as well as his responses to the letters sent by administrators complaining about him.  Littlefield warned them to be careful about what they send and to be clear because he had three boxes of emails and social media posts that he would gladly turn over to the attorney.  Lyscars was unphased by the threat noting he has nothing to hide having made everything public.

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