School Board Member in NH Speaks Out

We continue to hear from the NH Board Of Ed that all is well in New Hampshire.  Things are going great.  We wonder how an Education Board could be SO out of touch with what is going on in our schools. 
With permission to post…..

Dear Senators’ Reagan, Stiles, Avard, Kelly and Watters,

My name is Sue O’Connor, I live in Rochester and have served on the Rochester School Board for 2 terms. I am not speaking for the board itself, but what I have experienced during my tenure. Aside from the calls I receive by those who elected me, I have first hand knowledge of how poorly written and convoluted the curriculum associated with CCSS truly are. I have grandchildren in K, 3rd, 5th and 7th grades. The fact is CCSS was pushed on the state and then the districts with the usual carrot and stick. The problem with this, like most things in the educational community the standards, which require a curriculum were produced in great haste. This is seen in the daily illogical assignments children throughout this country and state have to struggle through. I urge all of you to research the development of CCSS yourselves. Do your own leg work and do not rely on the hearsay of others.

To date, Common Core is destroying the education system of the United States. Basic knowledge of this great country is slowly being eliminated. As time goes on our children and grandchildren will not know or understand how this great country came about. Immigrants taking citizenship exams know more about this country than what is now being taught in our schools, how sad is that? When I was growing up math was math. The idea that we now have “new math,” “reform math” or even “fuzzy math” teaching our children abstract thinking in the elementary schools is ludicrous. Children need to have the basics explained to them and very rudimentary methods in order to build “higher order thinking”. Why are private citizens the likes of Bill Gates, actually having a say in our education system? Why is the Federal Government attempting to take away local control of our schools? If you cannot answer these questions, as an elected official, then shame on all of you.

Rochester is in the midst of Competency Based Education, which is formerly known as Outcome Based Education. This was a failure and removed from schools decades ago. How quickly we forget the lost generation from that fiasco, now there will be yet another lost generation. It is important to understand that Competency Based Education and CCSS are all tied together with obtaining a waiver for NCLB. It is also mandatory if a district is attempting to obtain a waiver from Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As a community, we were not ready whatsoever to have this thrust upon our teachers or our students. As a board member and taxpayer, the community was lied to with regard to competencies. I have been made aware that teachers who questioned the competencies and did not let the issues drop were removed from the development committee. Is this not why we have teachers on a committee, for their opinion?

Our children who excel are now bored, unmotivated, and suffer from mediocrity. There is absolutely no “rigor” to the competencies and I have seen the work from 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades and, in my opinion, it is substandard. There is less work performed now than previously. No homework, children can redo work and assessments again and again and again. This is a practice in the middle and high school. Adults know that they cannot make the same mistakes again and again and again and expect to have a job. Why teach our children that way?

A lack of responsibility has reared its ugly head on the part of some teachers, administrators, and students. An example of what is being taught in our schools in 6th grade ELA: For a 6th grade class’s first book report one must COLOR four pictures and label the pictures. For the record this is how book reports are still being done in the 7th grade. This may be rigorous for the students who struggle, but insulting to those who do not. Those who are pushing Competency Based Education do not tell parents that “success” for all children means “success” in demonstrating only the dumbed-down outcomes that the slowest learners in the class can attain. Competency Based Education means “success” in mediocrity rather than excellence, as a true competency is precise and complex and needs to constantly be reviewed and updated. There is no funding for special programs for our gifted children.

Competency Based Education is based on the fact that the student has “mastered” the material. Most research/opinion papers/point papers are based on the fact that Competency Based Education had been implemented in the post-secondary education setting, with a major influence in the health science field, as competency based education takes into account life skills the learner needs and the demands of the workplace. Given the age of the students who will be subjected to Competency Based/Outcome Based Education, if they have not “mastered” the material in the elementary grades what “life skills” will they be bringing to their future employer?

In elementary grades, Competency Based Education does not teach children essential reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, but pretends to teach them “higher order thinking skills” instead. Competency Based Education ignores the obvious fact that one cannot engage in higher order thinking until one has some facts to think about.

All of you should be asking, “Where is the replicable research or studies that show that this works?”

I have advised many families to either home school or remove their children from the topics they find offensive and to opt out of testing. I do this because the child is the most important part of the equation that politicians seem to forget about. It is our children’s education that politicians are spinning the roulette wheel on and it is our children who are losing. I am asking you to please support SB101.
Sue O’Connor
47 Walnut Street
Rochester, NH 03867