Tag Archives: KevinVerville

The NH Dept. of Ed, now running local schools: One parent’s frustration

We have many parents and teachers who contribute to our blog and we want to thank them for helping other people to understand the numerous problems surrounding Common Core.

Most of the time we refrain from sharing the identity of our contributors because teachers for instance, can face bullying from administrators if they speak publicly against this reform effort and expose what is going on in the classroom.

With permission to post……

Just when you thought things were bad enough, it gets worse. We have entered the Orwellian Era when school board members no longer use the plain and primary, or tertiary for that matter, definitions of words in an effort to make any word or phrase have the meaning they desire in place of the plain meaning and intention of the original author. Lest we be convinced, the original author of 2015 School Warrant Article 6 went on the written record time and again to state the intent and purpose of the article in question. Therefore the obfuscation by the school board members is intentional.

But wait, it gets worse. They told us that the Smarter Balance Assessment© (SBA) would provide us more timely results that teachers could access to customize student education plans. Well here it is late October and we are still waiting for the results! Then there is the actual scoring. The SBA is designed to allow comparison across schools, districts, and states as to the efficacy of their educational system. Almost like the SAT’s, GRE’s, etc. The striking difference is that different states have different ‘cut scores’. That is to say, different states have been given different thresholds as to what is acceptable and what needs improvement. That means that the state to state comparisons we were promised will not be possible. What is the criteria for setting the ‘cut scores’ you ask? That is a very good question. Let me know if you can get a straight answer, or any answer, to that question.

But wait, it gets worse. The results have been known for quite some time, yet the NH Department of Education refuses to release the scores. Further, the NH Department of Education has instructed Superintendents to tell school boards and citizens that the reason for the non-release is because they are still scoring the paper and pencil version of the test. The online version of the test is adaptive. That is to say if you answer correctly you move on to more difficult questions. If you answer in error then you continue to receive questions of a similar difficulty. This is not possible on a paper and pencil test. This means that the results of the online and paper and pencil versions should be neither combined nor compared. So why the delay? That is a very good question. Good luck getting an answer that is not evasive.

But wait, it gets worse. The administration, to include the DCS principle and SAU53 superintendent say that the school district will respect a parent’s right to refuse their children(s) participation in the SBA. One school board member is on record saying that parents do not have such a right. Likely there are other members of the board that agree with the aforementioned member but they are unwilling to comment publicly on any matter of importance for reasons known only to themselves. There is no clear policy on the matter and the board refuses to even discuss the matter despite repeated requests for clarification on this point. So the elected body that is responsible for setting policy refuses to perform their duties. This leaves parents in limbo and creates needless confusion. This situation could lead to needless, time consuming, and costly legal action against the district should the wrong tack be taken.

But wait, it gets worse. Imagine an elected body that refuses to perform is primary duties in earnest but will while away their time on perfunctory matters. At least we have very clear definition as to the priority user list for the school gymnasium and the fees for such use! Imagine an elected body that ignores the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box that they were elected to represent.

One has to wonder why we should trust our elected officials when they are so feckless and unresponsive.

Respectfully,
Kevin Verville
Deerfield, NH

NH Parents Fighting For Local Control!

Have parents in NH been cut out of their local schools? When voters overwhelmingly support a warrant article, directing their local school district, why do they have to continue the fight?

That’s what the Federal education reforms are doing to our schools. Pitting parents against their local schools!!!!

We need MORE parents like this one…

Relative to the Deerfield School Board:

Let us not lose sight of why the anti-Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balance Assessment Warrant Article was petitioned in the first place; the failure of the Deerfield School Board to address standards that it implemented with zero public input, no public hearings, no discussion or debate, and no vote! Combine that with a complete disregard of repeated requests to hold public forums on the matter to hear from the people they were elected to represent. This is the people’s vehicle for redress when their elected representatives ignore the will of the people.

The fact that this article passed at the ballot box is the mandate of the people, regardless of how school board members feel, and demonstrates that there is an issue to be dealt with, no matter how much the School Board may want to ignore it and hope it goes away. The reason we have petitioned Warrant Articles is to demonstrate dissatisfaction and to urge corrective action be taken. Any elected official who disregards the will of the people should not be in office under a republican form of government.

While we have one Common Core apologist and one other supporter of Common Core on the Board, the rest of the Deerfield School Board sits silent, feckless, and completely unwilling to publically declare their position or even make a motion to begin the discussion the voters have demanded.

When the intellect chooses rhetorical tricks in place of facts then it is clear the points being made are almost certainly inaccurate and incorrect. Fiery language will persuade the casual observer but it cannot stand the test of time.

Since Deerfield School Board member Menard has chosen to continue to try to confuse and mislead members of the community by playing games with semantics, it seems only reasonable to turn a critical eye towards his recent writings presented during the October 2015 School Board meeting. This tirade is an effort at defending the Common Core State Standards© (CCSS) and Smarter Balance Assessment© (SBA), as well as the decision by the current Deerfield School Board to ignore the will of the people with respect to the 2015 warrant article passed by the voters.

Member Menard writes, “I take the warrant article to mean that we as a school board are advised to closely examine Common Core standards and Smarter Balance Assessment, and to look at replacing the same with locally developed standards and assessments.” This is School Board member Menard’s interpretation of “reject and immediately discontinue participation.” While I certainly do not want to put words into School Board member Deely’s mouth, I think it is safe to say that Mr. Deely agrees, at least in principle, with Mr. Menard’s interpretation, based on the published record. This does not even past the stink test! I will make the obligatory joke that clearly the two gentlemen have been studying their Common Core language arts standards to an exemplary degree. I challenge anyone to find a reputable source with an accepted primary definition of either reject or discontinue that reconciles with the assertions of member Menard or Deely.

Occasionally the supporters of CCSS let the cat out of the bag. Member Menard continues, “…common core, which is a set of standards in Math and Language Arts, that inform our math and language arts teachers as to what curriculum our DCS staff uses…” This is interesting, as we are told that standards are not curriculum and curriculum is not standards, but now we hear that the two are integrally linked at the hip. The CCSS is a de facto national set of standards. So is the CCSS also a de facto national curriculum or a vehicle to that end? Members Menard and Deely will presumably walk this back as there is a law on the federal books prohibiting a national curriculum! However, their remarks certainly expose the real end game of the CCSS and associated assessments, a national curriculum developed at the federal level.

Further, if the previous standards in language arts and mathematics were so lacking and inferior does it not stand that the standards for all other subject areas suffer from the same unacceptable deficiencies? Then where are, five years later, the proposed new standards in other subject areas?! Why is this not being addressed? Spoiler alert! Because there was nothing wrong with the previous set of standards. Nor is there any quantitative evidence that the CCSS are superior to the previous set of standards.

It is important to note that Warrant Article 6 2015 makes no mention of curriculum. The Article speaks only to the Common Core State Standards© and the Smarter Balanced Assessment©. Despite this fact member Menard goes on, “The next question is what body or committee is best suited to advise this board, as called for the warrant article. The Curriculum Review Board is already composed of Deerfield Staff, a school Board member, and DCS administration.” As the Article goes to standards and assessments I will contend that the Curriculum Review Board is not the board to deal with the Article. In fact while the article calls for “School Board to reject and immediately discontinue participation in the CCSS and SBA, it merely “recommend(s) that the School Board form a committee…to develop the Deerfield School District Academic Standards and Assessments.” Further, when has the Deerfield School Board instructed that the scope, role and, responsibility of the Curriculum Review Board be expanded to address the Article? Spoiler alert! This has not happened, nor should it.

Mr. Menard continues, adding the bluff and bluster of overheated rhetoric, “It would be ludicrous to take a slash and burn approach to implicating (sic) this warrant article. To unilaterally reject or existing standards and resulting curriculum, and embark upon an institution-wide refashioning of the whole educational framework of DCS without having well though-out replacements and improvements already in place would be educational suicide. It would create unmitigated chaos.” I would dare say Mr. Menard should have been making these remarks when the Deerfield School Board adopted the CCSS and SBA! Was that not a slash and burn, unilateral rejection of existing standards that lay an entire language arts and math curriculum to waste? As for unmitigated chaos, where are the spring 2015 SBA test results anyway? Member Menard wants us to believe that the CCSS and SBA just eased on in and the curriculum was all but in place. Nothing could be further from the truth, except that they eased it on in. A change in standards does not mandate in instantaneous change in curriculum as the implementation of the CCSS has demonstrated. Again, the argument does not even pass the stink test.

Mr. Menard’s most telling statement reads, “I don’t want to make matters worse knowingly.” Finally an admission of a problem! I will do you one better; I do not want to make matters worse either knowingly or by blindly following recommendations from unelected state bureaucrats!
Again, let us review the structure of our local school. The school board is the board of directors for the school. They are the boss. They set the policy of the school. The administration, to include the superintendent and principle, are employees of the school board. It is the job and duty of the administrative staff to implement and carry out the policies set forth by the school board. The remaining staff, to include teachers, are direct reports to the administrative staff and ultimately to the school board. There are but a few ways that a teacher can be fired in New Hampshire. One of the ways is insubordination. If a teacher, or any member of the staff, be it administrative or below, is found to be in insubordination then that employee is in jeopardy of job loss. Now that we have the management structure of the school clear in our minds we can see that the anecdotal stories that member Menard regales us with bring absolutely nothing to the discussion. When a school board member that has gone on the record time and again in support of the CCSS and SBA makes an inquiry from a subordinate employee what that employee thinks of the mandatory policy put in place under the tenure of said school board member it is no wonder that response will be favorable and polite. It is based on these facts that I dismiss out of hand member Menard’s commentary about his college years and interviews with DCS staff. While some may find these stories entertaining, they bring no quantitative data to the discussion and any qualitative data one may suppose they bring to the table is tainted by the above facts. It is interesting that a man with a scientific background would resort to this type of hearsay defense of the CCSS and SBA.

Mr. Menard returns to the dilapidated Trojan horse of “opting out”. I have never circulated anything that referenced “opting out”. We are not asking anyone to opt anyone out of anything. We are not asking; we are not requesting. We are flat out refusing our children’s participation in the Smarter Balance Assessment and any other assessment or questionnaire or survey or assignment we find objectionable as provided by NH RSA 186:11 IX-c and Deerfield School District policy IGE.
On the documents published on this topic by the New Hampshire Department of Education on this topic they are simply bulls and veiled threats to try to convince people that have no say in these matters. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Member Menard quotes bulletins from the New Hampshire Department of Education liberally. That being said, he is also cherry picking. He fails to quote the following addendum to the Technical Assistance RSA 193-C; RSA 186: 11 IX-c that he referenced, “ADDENDUM – Added January 13, 2015 – Although RSA 193-C-6 requires all public school students to participate in the statewide assessment (one assessment in English language arts, mathematics and science), there are no laws in the State of New Hampshire or rules at the New Hampshire Department of Education that would penalize a student for not participating in the statewide assessment. Additionally, the same is true if a parent determined that they would not allow their child to participate. However, the district will incur a lower participation rate, which is reported to the public.

Decisions regarding placements, grade retention and/or teacher evaluations in regards to the statewide assessment or any other assessment required by the school or school district are made at the local level. Supports for students with disabilities must be in accordance with state and federal law; however, a school district may always go above and beyond what is required in law.”
In fact the State writes in another Technical Assistance RSA 193-C, “If a parent keeps their child home, the districts should respond as it would with any situation where a parent keeps their child out of school. If a student is at school and simply refuses to take the assessment, the school should respond in a manner similar to any other instance where a student refuses to participate in an assignment.”

So how does that reconcile with what the superintendent of SAU 53 and the principle of the Deerfield Community School has advised parents on the matter? It does not. So the question is, what is the Deerfield School Board going to do to reconcile this issue? Spoiler alert! Probably nothing. My guess is they will allow this ambiguity to continue and provide no direction to the administration or parents. While we have two members on the record, one must conclude that the other three are in alignment by both their silence and inaction. True politicians all three be, for sure.

Therefore, when member Menard writes, “So to me it seems ‘if it ain’t (sic) broke, why fix it’.” Well it would seem to me that there is a lot that needs fixing around here. We just lack the right people on the Deerfield School Board to deal with it.

Why the Deerfield School Board would leave the District in potential legal jeopardy when very simple solutions to these issues abound and have been presented to them is beyond comprehension.

In conclusion member Menard’s most recent missive is more a story about how member Menard wishes the situation to be instead of representing the reality of the situation.

Respectfully,
Kevin Verville
Deerfield, NH