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Teachers Testify to Keep Common Core in New Hampshire Classrooms

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Pam Harland
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Angie Miller
Last week, two of our New Hampshire Teacher Champions had the opportunity to testify before the House Education Committee, in opposition to SB 101. The bill, which had already passed the State Senate, would prohibit New Hampshire from implementing the Common Core State Standards. See below for excerpts from their prepared remarks – and don’t forget to click on the links to read the full testimony.

Pam Harland is past president of the NH School Library Media Association and Librarian at Sanborn Regional High School.Read Pam’s full testimony here or view her testimony here.

“Working with teachers across all subjects, school librarians have a unique perspective on the curriculum. Fifteen years ago, I saw a lot of worksheets, cut & paste poster projects, and rote memorization. That is useless learning. Students memorize facts for a few minutes, but do not evaluate or synthesize or demonstrate real understanding.

One teacher I worked with the other day had just completed a unit. She gave her students the relevant common core standards and asked them to show what they had learned in a creative way. One of the common core standards she shared was ‘Draw evidence from texts to support analysis and research,’ another was ‘Determine the central ideas of a text.’ When given the assignment, one of her students said, ‘I liked it better when they told us what to write’ because this kind of freedom is challenging to teenagers. In the end, every student produced out-of-the box ways to satisfy the assignment. One student compared Johnny Cash lyrics to a scene in a novel. Another wrote about how social issues have changed throughout history. They all incorporated reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and responsible use of information into their projects.

Our teachers are making assessments that require students to actually understand and use the material. Comprehension is no longer an optional component of learning.”

Angie Miller is a Library Media Specialist at Inter-Lakes Junior/Senior High School, Government Relations and Advocacy Chair for the NH State Library Media Association, and a mother of three. She was previously a middle school English Language Arts teacher, where she was honored as the 2011 New Hampshire State Teacher of the Year. Read Angie’s full testimony here or view her testimony here.

“When I first was introduced to the standards, I was hesitant about changing, but as I started to sift through our old standards and compare them to the CCSS, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief–they gave me control over content in my classroom; they provided clear language to communicate with students and parents; and for the first time, we had standards that introduced research-based practices like writing across the curriculum that were long overdue.

I know that local control is always a concern in our state where we value and uphold independence. But I don’t see the adoption of the standards as a threat to local control. A friend of mine who was the National Teacher of the Year, always says, “Common does not mean the same.” The adoption of the Common Core does not ask our districts to do the same things. If you read through the Common Core Standards, you will see that they are not a curriculum, nor do they mandate how a teacher should teach. This is important because curriculum and instructional practices are always best when left to the professionals in the field. There are a multitude of ways to meet a standard, and it is crucial that teachers and districts decide the best way to meet their students’ needs. Certainly, a student from a mill family in Berlin will have a different background than an immigrant student in Manchester, and we should consider individually which materials would best help every student thrive. However, we should have equally high standards for every single student, regardless of background.