The New Hampshire House of Representatives shelved all five bills that would have scaled back the state’s Common Core policies late in March, signaling that Common Core is here to stay in the Granite State, at least for now.
Announcing the defeat of the delaying bills, chairwoman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Mary Stuart Gile (D-Concord) said, “Termination for all this effort and activity would be nothing less than chaotic for our students, teachers and others.”
The bills ranged from one that would have put a complete stop to the educational standards to another that would have delayed it while a statewide study was conducted by the education committee. There were also bills stopping or controlling the collection of student data. All five were defeated.
In the one case, sixteen House Republicans joined the Democrats to defeat HB 1508, which would have eliminated Common Core altogether. The bill went down to defeat in a 201 to 138 vote.
Even the two bills that would have limited or stopped the collection of student data to be gathered and sent to the federal government and state authorities failed.
Responding to the defeat of the bills, Rep. Laura Jones (R-Rochester) said, “I thought we wanted excellence in education, not the mediocracy that these standards will produce.”
Much of the confusion in New Hampshire revolves around just what standards school districts are supposed to follow. Proponents of the Common Core law hasten to point out that each district is not required to use the Common Core standards and therefore that complaints from those against the standards are unwarranted.
However, opponents of Common Core note that the basic testing standards being used are those of Common Core, so it hardly makes any difference whether the standards are “required” or not, since without them, success on the statewide tests would be impossible.
“The Department of Education keeps stating that school districts are not mandated to use Common Core, but the statewide testing is based on Common Core, and you can’t have one without the other,” said Rep. Ralph Boehm (R-Litchfield). “It’s a mandate, but they need to spin it around New Hampshire’s constitution.”
Another stumbling block in New Hampshire is one seen in states across the country as new standards are being required by legislators in state capitals without having the new systems funded among the school districts. These massive and expensive new educational changes are an unfunded mandate, and legislators expect schools to foot the costs without having funds allocated to do so. For school districts that already feel they are strapped for cash, this is a major problem.
Kearsarge Regional School Board member Joseph Mendola is one who says that Granite Staters should dump the whole Common Core scheme.
“Local control of school standards has been, since the public school system was implemented in America in 1845, about teaching students to strive for excellence in learning, not adopting standards that are common to the core,” Mendola said recently. “New Hampshire is capable of adopting more excellent standards for our children, and we can develop tests that are appropriate so that our children will learn to love learning – not hate it because of ridiculous testing.”
Another opponent of Common Core, Kimberly Morin of Manchester, said of the failures of the bills, “Democrats chose to continue implementation of a program that was never piloted and never tested to verify good outcomes in education. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration requires years of testing drugs before they are allowed to be marketed. Why would the Department of Education not require some testing of a massive educational program before implementation across the country? Today, Democrats in the New Hampshire Legislature chose Common Core over kids.”
Regardless, Common Core has been upheld despite the confusion of just what standards districts are supposed to follow and despite that no money has been allocated to fulfill the requirements.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.