CONCORD — Common Core opponent Doris Hohensee of Manchester arrived early for the legislative workshop on educational reform, and set up her camera before security could begin to block access to the room.
"They asked us to wait in the hall until they were sure there would be enough seats for lawmakers," she said. "No way was I going to wait in the hall."
Security personnel did not ask Hohensee and her entourage to leave, but as other Common Core opponents arrived, they waited quietly outside the room until it was obvious there would be enough seats for everyone.
Two statewide conservative groups that have opposed Common Core — Cornerstone Policy Research and Americans for Prosperity — both criticized the session as too one-sided.
Greg Moore, state director of AFP-NH, called the event a "Common Core rally."
"While it's certainly fine for Common Core supporters to have their own event to promote their agenda, they certainly should not be given a platform to offer a one-sided argument to a legislative committee," he said. "I hope that the chair of the committee, Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, offers the same opportunity to Common Core opponents that she's given to its supporters."
Ann Marie Banfield, education liaison at Cornerstone, said her organization has called for the Department of Education to host a debate on the issue, but has been ignored.
"It was very one-sided, not a public debate," she said of the Tuesday information session. "We're a little disappointed in the lack of balance."
AFP-NH's Moore said the House Education Committee needs to hear from those who are supporters of home-schooling, charter schools and private schools, and those who have legitimate concerns about Common Core standards, testing and privacy.
"The education bureaucracy was well represented in this hearing, but no one from outside the traditional public education structure was invited to present," he said in a statement released minutes after the meeting ended. "The House Education Committee should be a forum for new ideas and concerns, not an echo chamber to benefit one group of the education system. The fact that the group will not hear about the real issues raised by the opponents strikes at the heart of the democratic process and undermines the transparency that our state legislature has rightly fostered."