At the State Board of Education meeting in July, the Board voted to affirm their support of the current state standards. Commissioner Edelblut said that the Department of Education will proceed with an informal review.
Reaching Higher NH’s coverage of the meeting was featured in Education Week’s reporting. Ed Week also interviewed the Commissioner and SBOE Chair, Drew Cline, on their position on the standards review. Here’s an excerpt:
As commissioner, Edelblut can review standards informally and suggest changes to the state board of education—like any other private citizen. But only the board can open up the formal process for revising standards.
Some see Edelblut’s desire to look at the standards as an attempt to fufill a campaign promise. Both he and the eventual victor in the governor’s race, Chris Sununu, campaigned on a platform opposing the common core. (In what may be a case of keeping-your-enemies-closer, Sununu appointed Edelblut to the commissioner’s job in January.)
In an interview with Education Week last month, Edeblut said that he was merely trying to meet his duties spelled out in state code, which says the commissioner should continually review standards. “I’m new on the job here, so I absolutely don’t have anything definitive I’d be ready to propose at this point,” he said then. “I don’t even know for sure if there will be any changes proposed.”
But the tensions came to the forefront last week, according to the website Reaching Higher New Hampshire, which covered the most recent board meeting. At it, several board members questioned whether politics were really the driving force behind the discussion.
“I don’t think we’re talking about tweaks here, I think we’re talking standards, and it’s a political decision. I know common core has gotten a bad political review,” said board member Cindy Chagnon, who opposes a revision, largely on the grounds that such an action would be both costly and time-consuming.
Edelblut countered: “We have to reflect on the fact that voters spoke with some decisiveness to elect a governor who ran on repealing common core,” he said, according to Reaching Higher.
In the end, board member Bill Duncan pressed for a vote on language affirming the common core, which passed 3-1, with three abstentions. The language acknowledges Edelblut’s plan to look at the standards on his own, but states that the board believes that the standards “are serving our students well and are not in need of modification.”
Board Chairman Drew Cline, who abstained from the vote, demurred when asked last month whether he thought the standards should be revised.
“I am personally still learning a lot, and still talking to a lot of folks; I share concerns with other board members that this process be collaborative and not chaotic,” he said. “I also think that rarely is there a set of standards or rules that are 100 percent perfect.”