A bill to prevent the state government from requiring schools to use the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) passed the New Hampshire Senate.
CCSS is a set of national standards dictating what students should know at the end of each grade level. Senate Bill 44, introduced in January 2017, would “[prohibit] the department of education and the state board of education from requiring the implementation of the common core standards in any school or school district in this state,” the bill’s text states.
SB 44 passed along party lines with a 14–9 vote in February and moved to the House for consideration. Republicans in the Senate supported the bill; Democrats uniformly opposed it.
‘SB 44 Is Pushback’
Ann Marie Banfield, education liaison at Cornerstone Policy Research, says getting rid of CCSS has been a constant battle in New Hampshire.
“Since , parents from across the state have been leading an effort to get rid of the standards,” Banfield said. “SB 44 is pushback, but we’ve been trying that for a few years. Unfortunately, our former governor, [Maggie Hassan (D)], was fully invested in Common Core. In November, our new governor, [Chris Sununu (R)], ran his campaign saying he’d scrap Common Core.”
State Rep. Victoria Sullivan (R-Hillsborough), a member of the House Education Committee, says a similar House bill, House Bill 207, which awaits a hearing by the House Education Committee, goes even further toward stopping the implementation and use of the standards.
“[HB 207] states that changes to the academic standards adopted by the state must [first] be approved by [the state’s legislature],” Sullivan said. “The hope is that standards like Common Core do not sneak into the state in the future.”
Sullivan says both the House and Senate bills would keep the state from “falling into a trap like Common Core again.”
Smarter Balanced Snag
New Hampshire is a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of states that develops Common Core-aligned assessments. Sullivan says as long as the state belongs to the consortium, its school curricula do as well.
“Districts haven’t had much of a choice, since our state assessment is the method by which we currently, in law, measure an adequate education,” Sullivan said. “I am hopeful our new commissioner of education, [homeschooling father Frank Edelblut], will find a way to do away with the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Until then, districts do not truly have the freedom to develop their own standards.”
New Leaders, New Chance
Banfield says she’s optimistic the new government leadership will eliminate CCSS.
“SB 44 finally has a chance of passing with new leadership,” Banfield said. “Not only do I believe [Sununu] will sign the bill if the House passes this bill, New Hampshire will have to adopt new academic standards.”
Banfield says members of the State Board of Education could try to thwart parents’ goals.
“All members were appointed during previous administrations and have been supportive of Common Core,” Banfield said. “The voters sent a message in November, with the election of Gov. Sununu to lead New Hampshire. Those who would stand in the way are those who would continue to ignore the will of parents.”
Sullivan says the stars are finally aligned for Common Core opponents in New Hampshire.
“I believe that [Edelblut’s] goal is to return local control to parents and districts, and I believe the governor is in agreement with him,” Sullivan said. “This is great news for New Hampshire. We finally have a commissioner of education, governor, and legislative body all on the same page when it comes to local control of education.”
Jenni White (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.