Today, a New Hampshire law that prohibits the state department of education and the state board of education from requiring any school or school district to implement Common Core standards goes into effect. This represents an opportunity for local communities to opt out of Common Core and nullify the program in practice.
A coalition of Republicans introduced Senate Bill 44 (SB44) in January. The legislation opens the door to to end common core in the state by prohibiting the department of education and the board of education from requiring schools to implement Common Core standards.
Neither the department of education nor the state board of education shall by statute or rule require that the common core state standards developed jointly by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers be implemented in any school or school district in this state.
In addition, SB44 prohibits the state board of education from amending existing academic standards, or approving new standards, without prior review and recommendation of an education legislative oversight committee.
The House passed SB44 by a voice vote. The Senate passed it with a 14-9 vote. With Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature, the law is effective as of Sept. 16.
This is a first step toward unraveling Common Core in New Hampshire. While it will not immediately end the program, or require school districts to abandon it, it allows for local decision-making. School districts that want to abandon the national standards are now free to do so.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Up until recently, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015 now prohibits the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.” But under the new federal law, states still must comply with College and Career Ready Standards, based on Common Core, as a condition for receiving some federal dollars. It also requires the federal education secretary to approve each state’s plans for standards and assessments.
Even with the federal strings partially cut from Common Core for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standard simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice, and freedom. Passage of this legislation into law represents a positive step forward for the people of New Hampshire and a path for other states to follow.