Inside New Hampshire’s Common Core Showdown: Will Gov. Hassan’s Veto Embolden The Critics?

Inside New Hampshire’s Common Core Showdown: Will Gov. Hassan’s Veto Embolden the Critics?

This article is part of a series focusing on New Hampshire’s education system leading up to the NH Education Summit on August 19. The summit is hosted by The Seventy Four and sponsored by the American Federation for Children. Complete coverage can be found on on August 19, including conversations with Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and Scott Walker. More information can be found at

Anne Marie Banfield assures the crowd that she will be brief, noting that the Bruins game is on. She is speaking about the Common Core, and for the parents gathered in Barrington, New Hampshire, what Banfield has to say is more important than the hockey game.

However, Banfield ends up speaking for an hour straight and then answers questions for another 45 minutes. The event was recorded and uploaded to YouTube in June 2013, and continues to receive views.

Banfield’s initial monologue about the Common Core is engaging, if somewhat stream-of-consciousness. She first explains that Common Core is difficult to define, similar to ObamaCare.

She then proceeds to list a series of complaints about the standards: Common Core is too similar to the European system; the standards are too easy; English textbooks are overly politicized and try to indoctrinate students with stories about Cesar Chavez; there is not enough focus on grammar; it requires the collection of data; too much time is spent explaining math rather than focusing on getting the correct answers. Banfield even suggests that it may require students to read books that are both anti-Christian and Marxist, citing Barbara Ehrenreich’s "Nickel and Dimed."

The most concerning aspect, according to Banfield, is the elaborate tracking system that she claims the federal government is implementing through Common Core. She asserts that the government will use the collected data to steer students towards specific careers, regardless of their personal preferences. Banfield recounts one specific incident where a parent in Nashua reported that her son, after taking one of the surveys associated with Common Core, was informed that he should pursue a career as a rapper. The audience laughs, albeit nervously, unsure about which of their children may be directed by Common Core towards becoming a rapper.

There are legitimate arguments against the Common Core, and Banfield raises some of them in her talk. However, it is unlikely that minor changes in the amount of informational (non-fiction) texts are what has fueled the widespread opposition to the Common Core in New Hampshire and beyond. Instead, it is likely the troubling aspects that Banfield describes, such as left-wing indoctrination and government control over careers, that have sparked the rebellion.

Since her presentation, Banfield has continued to write extensively about the standards, contributing to mainstream publications and conservative blogs.

This type of grassroots activism, including writing in various mediums, using social media, and speaking in school cafeterias, is leaving an impact. In New Hampshire, it has even resulted in anti-Common Core legislation.

A few months ago, both the New Hampshire state Senate and House passed a bill that would prevent the state Education Department or Board of Education from mandating the use of the Common Core in any school district. The bill easily passed in the House with a vote of 202-138.

Kevin Avard, the primary sponsor of the bill, explained, "I have heard from many parents across the state who are concerned not only about the quality of these federal educational programs, but also about the mandate that they be implemented statewide, limiting the ability of individual towns and cities to decide on their students’ education."

It is likely that some of these parents were influenced to contact Avard by activists like Banfield.

However, to their disappointment, Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan strongly supports the Common Core and vetoed Avard’s bill in early May. She pointed out that New Hampshire districts already have the freedom to choose whether or not to implement the standards and expressed her belief in their value.

"As this bill has no practical impact, its purpose appears to be that of sending a message, and it is the wrong message," Hassan stated in her veto message. "New Hampshire must be clear that it is dedicated to developing a workforce and citizenry for the 21st century, that it welcomes innovation, and that it is modernizing its education system to reflect these values."

Hassan, a firm supporter of the Common Core, recently joined the board of Achieve, a non-profit organization that played a significant role in the development of the standards. During her re-election campaign in 2014, Hassan defended the Common Core against criticism from her Republican opponent, who strongly campaigned against it.

Although Hassan emerged victorious and has been able to prevent state lawmakers from overturning her veto, the battle over the Common Core is far from settled in New Hampshire. Determined opponents continue to voice their opposition, regularly sharing content on the Stop Common Core New Hampshire Facebook page. Additionally, an online petition to abandon the standards has surpassed 1,500 signatures as of Friday.

As the 2016 presidential election approaches, where criticism of the Common Core has gained traction among many GOP candidates, the question remains as to how long this activist energy in New Hampshire can endure, especially with a governor like Hassan who shows unwavering support.

Alternatively, the question may be how long supporters of the Common Core, including Hassan herself, can contain the growing opposition.

(Photo by Getty Images)


  • kaylarusso

    Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.



Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.

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