Today ‘School Choice for New Hampshire’ wrote about the latest compromise in House Bill 323 – “An Act relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program.” Proponents of the original bill want to take local control out of the hands of parents and school boards and have it at a regional level. Opponents are fighting against this because school districts need to be controlled at the local level, not by some bureaucrats who have no idea what is going on in the district.
The New Hampshire Senate has been back and forth on this bill more times than probably any other bill this session. Senator Nancy Stiles and Representative Rick Ladd prefer to hand over local control and decision making to people above the local school district. In other words, they want to cut off parental rights because parents have more of a say in their child’s education when they can be involved at the local level.
This is nothing new for Governor Hassan’s politically appointed hack Bill Duncan who does not have a background in education but was appointed by Hassan to the Department of Education anyway (and it was while he was involved in a lawsuit against the state regarding school choice). At each turn, Duncan has fought against what is best for Granite State students, parents and school districts. Duncan is a huge proponent of Common Core. This is from a release he senttoday:
Senate leadership is committed to HB 323 but key senators need to hear from us. Just convey your support for the good work DOE is doing. And say that:
• The charges opponents are making are without foundation.
• PACE is a voluntary program in which DOE supports districts in replacing some standardized testing with classroom based assessments developed by your teachers.
• The SAT provision is important but amendments that take everything but the SAT out of the bill are no good. We need the support for PACE.
Bill Duncan is supposed to represent what is best for the children but what he’s doing is lying about what is best and indeed lying about the PACE program. And why is Duncan acting in an activist role while he is being paid by the taxpayers of New Hampshire to act on behalf of everyone? Of course Duncan is also a well-known liar and he proves it yet again. From the School Choice blog:
The state DOE, Bill Duncan of the state Board of Education, and Rep. Ladd claim that PACE is voluntary, yet demand it be written into HB 323. PACE is only optional during this pilot phase when districts may choose to participate. PACE is being piloted in four NH districts currently — Rochester, Sanborn Regional, Epping, and Souhegan. It is intended to be alternated with the Smarter Balanced Assessments at different grades. This amendment is also fully consistent with the FAQ that Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner of the state DOE, sent to senators. These claims are completely refuted in Things Come Apart So Easily using the state DOE’s information, the US DOE waiver letter, and state law. Also the US DOE’s waiver letter dated 3/5/15 makes it clear that NH must use a single statewide assessment. That means all NH schools will be required to implement PACE; it will be mandatory. These documents clearly show that PACE, the experimental integrated assessment program, is not intended to be optional beyond this pilot phase. If PACE is written into state law via HB 323, then it will become mandatory.
As always, Duncan is against local control, teachers, children and parents. School Choice New Hampshire is urging Granite Staters to contact their senator to vote for Senator Bradley’s amendment. It’s the only one that makes sense. To understand more about why PACE is so bad:
In truth PACE is more testing because it is an integrated assessment program per the DOE’s own documents. These assessments are like Unit Study tests given regularly as part of the classroom work. Students have assessments approximately every week and they must re-test until they are proficient. Parents in these pilot districts have indicated these assessments are given on an approximately weekly basis. Weekly assessments in a 30 week school year is clearly more testing, not less. Also, because PACE is integrated, parents cannot refuse their child’s participation without the child failing that subject. A parent in one of these districts told us that her 6th grade son is likely to fail the year because he did not test “proficient” on the poetry unit. It also means that students’ regular course exams are being used for accountability to the state and federal government. This is a very different structure from those used previously when assessments did not have direct impact on students’ grades or grade-level advancements.
Parents, educators and activists have been fighting for local control and to do what is right for students across the Granite State. They have been met with closed minds and condescending attitudes in the Department of Education who seek to control every aspect of education in the state. Parents should have the ultimate control over choices in their children’s education, not some politically appointed hack like Duncan who has no background in education nor children in the public education system.