NGSS: Cornerstone/NHBOE emails 2015

The following is a chronological account of March 5-16, 2015 emails between Cornerstone Education Liaison Ann Marie Banfield and Chairman of the State Board of Education Tom Raffio on the subject of Next Generation Science Standards.

March 6, 2015, 7:46 a.m.

Chairman Raffio and Members of the New Hampshire Board of Education:

I was unable to attend the meeting in Concord on Wednesday, March 4th. It’s my understanding that there was a discussion on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that are under consideration for adoption in New Hampshire. I would like to follow up with some questions and clarification as the Board moves forward in this adoption process.

1) Will the New Hampshire Board of Education conduct public hearings in an effort to gather feedback from the public and teachers? If so, how many public hearings? Will you have hearings throughout New Hampshire to make sure you are getting feedback from all over the state?

2) Have you compared the Next Generation Science Standards to State Science Standards that were considered the best in the country? If so, can you provide notes from those meetings so I can review them?
3) Do you have any estimates on what the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards will cost the school districts throughout New Hampshire? If so, can you provide that?

4) Have you involved the Professors of Science at the college level in New Hampshire to analyze the Next Generation Science Standards and ask for their expert opinions? If so, can you provide notes and copies of those reviews? Please provide names, titles, and academic resumes of the higher education professors of science and engineering who reviewed the NGSS.

5) When do you expect a vote on the adoption of NGSS in New Hampshire? Or has this already taken place? If so, please provide the notes from that public meeting.

6) Was there any kind of critical analysis done on the NGSS by the NH BoE members? If so, can you provide notes and documentation on the materials used?

7) Are the NGSS internationally benchmarked? If so, please provide a list of those countries.

With all of the public discourse over Common Core in New Hampshire and throughout the country, it is critical that this next adoption process is not rushed and includes feedback from teachers, parents and higher education science professors.

Best Regards,

Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison, Cornerstone Action

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Fri, March 6, 2015, 6:33 PM

Good Afternoon Ann Marie,

Thank you for reaching out to the State Board of Education members. We did have a discussion of this topic on March 4, briefly though,  as we had several other agenda items.

In short:  We have not yet begun the process of updating the New Hampshire College and Career Ready science standards and so we really cannot answer most of your questions.  We can say that when we do start the process, there will be substantial opportunity for public input.

Hope this helps for now.

Sincerely,

Tom Raffio, Chair, NH State Board Of Education

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March 8, 2015, 5:15 PM

Chairman Raffio,

Thank you for your reply.  You mentioned, ” we have not yet begun the process of updating the New Hampshire College and Career Ready science standards and so we really cannot answer most of your questions.”

I’m not so much seeking opportunities for input but looking more for information from the BoE.  Do you have any of this this information available at this time and if so, please provide it.

I have copied the House Education Committee members on this e-mail because it was a short time ago when one of the members spoke directly to Bill Duncan during a break at a hearing.  I happen to be sitting next to Bill Duncan when he mentioned that he would be making a motion on the NGSS at the next board meeting.  He can certainly clarify his remarks if that is not accurate.

Doris Hohensee, former candidate for State Senate and Chair of New Hampshire Families for Education attended the Board meeting on Wednesday and took notes.  She reported that you stated that the Board “endorsed” the NGSS.

I am adding Doris Hohensee to this e-mail since I am using her notes from Wednesday’s meeting to base my questions on and I don’t want to misrepresent her or anything the Board has done up until this point.

If there is documentation such as notes from the meeting or a video, that could clear up any misunderstanding we might have, that would be helpful.  It’s my understanding that notes have been taken in the past at retreats.

If the Board is confident in the Next Generation Standards, I would think all if not most of those questions would be easy to answer.  These are questions the Board should have been asking when the NGSS was first brought to their attention.  Would you agree?

In light of HB124 which recently passed the House Education Committee, I was hopeful the BoE would take a cue from our elected representatives and, conduct at the minimum, a fiscal analysis before considering any move to endorse or adopt new science standards.

In the meantime, I would like clarification on exactly where the Board is on the “endorsement” of NGSS given the contradiction in what I’ve been hearing and reading.  I am also requesting any information you have available at this time that would answer the questions I sent you.

Best Regards,

Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison, Cornerstone Action

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March 11, 2015, 5:05 p.m.

Hi Ann Marie,

As mentioned already, we have not started the process on science standards.   Member Bill Duncan did not make a motion.

You will have an opportunity to ask your questions once the process is under way, but, again, the process has not started yet.  The SBOE will do its due diligence and study, as we always do.

I did refer to the Governor’s Task Force on K-12 STEM Education and the Task Force’s recommendation # 2 (“NH’s College and Career Ready Science Standards are now nine years old. …. Updating the NH’s College and Career Ready Science Standards to reflect current research will provide the foundation for stimulating student interest and enhancing STEM literacy in the state.”  Etc.).

That’s all I can say at this point with regard to your emails, until the process commences.   I anticipate opportunities for you to opine and question, and I anticipate the SBOE will see your participation in action, once the process starts.

Sincerely,

Tom Raffio, Chair, State Board Of Education

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March 15, 2015, 6:14 PM

Chairman Raffio,

Thank you again for your reply.  Unfortunately there remains confusion over where the Board is in this process.

For instance in today’s edition of the Concord Monitor Bill Duncan said, http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20150315/NEWS/150319493/101098/NEWS

“According to Duncan, over ‘a period of time,’ the Board of Education will soon be working to update the state’s science standards, which are almost 10 years old, by adopting Next Generation Science Standards, and he expects opposition to this effort as well. Duncan says the standards are based on national research and science teachers ‘up and down the line’ support them.

“Twenty-six states participated in the development of the standards that were finalized in 2013, and Duncan said in New Hampshire, the Board of Education will be working with teachers and school districts and holding public meetings in a ‘participative process.’ ‘I predict though, that the same folks who oppose the Common Core standards will now turn to the NGSS,’ he said. ‘It seems to me to add up to an anti-public education statement more than it is about federal overreach or the content of standards.'”

In all honesty, it sounds like his decision has been made.  If that is the case, would public hearings be worth our time?  Or are they just a formality to say that hearings were held?

I hope you can see why I’m concerned about the BoE coming to this process without bias.  Based on statements like these, one would assume that at least with Mr. Duncan, the decision has already been made.

If that decision has been made, then maybe he and any other board member can provide the specific answers I asked in the earlier e-mail?  If they’ve come to the conclusion that the NGSS should be adopted but have not considered a thoughtful analysis based on my questions, then I would hope that you would confirm that.

Can I see the notes or video from the retreat?  At least then I could compare them to what Doris Hohensee reported.  This might be at least a small way to address some of this conflicting information that’s been presented.

Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison, Cornerstone Action

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March 15, 2015, 8:57 p.m.

Dear Ann Marie,

Nice to hear from you on a Sunday.

I will now say this for a third time:   the New Hampshire State Board of Education has not yet started the process of overseeing the development and then eventually approving the next set of science standards for New Hampshire, which are now 9 – 10 years old.

Bill is a respected member of the BOE, but is just one member.  I have no idea what other members of the SBOE are thinking on this topic; the brief discussion at the retreat related primarily to the Governor’s Task Force on STEM education which had a recommendation on the science standards.  The BOE is well aware of the many opinions on science standards, from the Task Force, to  science teachers, to education experts, to the general public, to interest groups such as the one you represent.

I am always happy to hear from you and answer your questions, but I cannot answer this one any more, or any more clearly.

If you have new questions, please as you always do, send them my way, but I have nothing more to say on this particular question at this time.

Tom Raffio, Chair, New Hampshire Board of Education