In NH debate, no common ground found on Common CoreBy JULIE HANSON
Union Leader Correspondent
May 20. 2014 9:15AM
GOFFSTOWN — No common ground was discovered at a public forum Monday night discussing the pros and cons of Common Core.
Both sides came to the table at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College to explore whether Common Core education standards are good for Granite State families. About 150 people heard panelists explain their support or opposition to the federally-developed standards at the event hosted by Cornerstone Action and Cornerstone Policy Research.
Opponents criticized the standards and the process that brought Common Core to this state.
Jamie Gass, Boston-based Director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, said his organization did independent analysis of Common Core. He told the audience that Massachusetts owes much of its history of academic success to a deep commitment to classic literature, drama and poetry. Common Core, he said, represents a dramatic shift away from classic literature toward informational texts and non-fiction.
“The quality of the language and vocabulary is significantly better than informational texts and nonfiction that Common Core offers,” Gass said.
Since Massachusetts is one of the highest performing states in the nation and New Hampshire is right behind, both have a great deal to lose in term of quality of education, Gass said.
Emmett McGroarty, executive director of Education at American Principles Project, argued the core’s math standards replace traditional algorithms with strategies, leaving children behind their counterparts in other high-performing countries.
“If it weren’t so sad it would be comical,” McGroarty said.
Ann Marie Bandfield, education researcher and education liaison for Cornerstone Action, said the standards set for younger students were inappropriate.
“Asking children to abstract think in lower grades sets up a stressful situation for children,” Banfield said.
But David Pook, a teacher at the Derryfield School and Granite State College and who was a contributing writer or the Common Core English Language Arts standards, disagreed on both points.
“The goal is to have kids read closely, examine complex texts and compare required skills,” Pook said. “Any sensible school in society would have their kids be able to do this.”
Tom Raffio, Chairman of the state Board of Education, which has endorsed Common Core, presented comments from educators across the state supporting Common Core.
Many teachers felt it was beneficial to know what students learned the previous years and what to expect from students transferring in from other districts.
“It was a very inclusive process and we’ve seen the results,” Raffio said.