Chartered Public Schools Need Support

On November 8th, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee voted to table a $46 million grant that would allow New Hampshire to add another 20 chartered public schools that expand or replicate successful models or offer schools in communities currently under-served.

We have heard from many families and charter school leaders who are upset with the committee’s vote. The following letter is shared with permission.

Dr. Becky Owens is a first year NH State Representative serving Auburn, Chester and Sandown.  Dr. Owens is an educator, and currently an adjunct at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a resident of Chester, NH and her and her husband have five children.  She is an avid supporter of school choice and charter schools. She holds a PhD in Education, and a Masters in Education and is currently pursuing an MBA in Public Administration.  

As a parent of a child that attends a charter school, and a NH State representative, I am extremely saddened and disappointed by the recent decision to table the $46 million grant for charter schools.  

Many families in my town and in others, are leaving public schools for various reasons. A large percentage of them are in special education and others have experienced bullying with no real solution.  Many others are unhappy with common core and the teachers’ lack of academic freedom. They are flocking to charter schools for smaller classroom sizes, more personalized learning, and to learn from teachers that teach to the student, not the test. 

I am a mother of five children.  I have homeschooled my children and they have attended public school and one son is enrolled in a charter school.  He was diagnosed with slow processing. As a result, he was pulled out of his class for most of the day. He became very withdrawn, anxious and unhappy with school.  He missed seeing his friends and felt like he was “not normal.” After many meetings with his teachers and case manager, they expressed that they also noticed this behavior and asked me if I had any ideas on how to proceed, since they had no other recourse.  

My husband and I decided to withdraw him from school and homeschool for a couple of years until he needed more consistent social interaction.  We researched other options and decided that the charter school would be the best of both worlds; small class sizes, no testing, project based, and he would not be pulled from class. 

This has made a world of difference.  He is happy and confident. He plays on the rec soccer and basketball teams and is planning to try out for the school teams. He has many friends and is active in the classroom.  Dozens of parents have approached us requesting information on charters, based on the evident positive changes in him.  

The public schools are common core aligned and with this means hours of standardized testing each year and teachers are teaching to the test.  There is no room for personalized learning or academic freedom. For those students that do not fit into this cookie cutter educational system, this can lead to a variety of problems, both academic and behavioral.  

Charter schools are not trying to replace public schools as many have accused them of, but provide an alternative for those that do not fit the mold, and the current educational system cannot support. The success of the student should be the main concern, not the success of the school.  

Charter schools have a significant disadvantage in funding.  But the funding that they do receive, goes towards academics and the students, not the building or administrative fees.  Public schools should follow suit.  

With academic scores at an all time low in NH, it seems like the logical solution.  The amount of money given to public schools has increased while the academic scores have decreased every year.  This begs the question, is giving more funding to public schools really the answer? Or should we support the schools that are having success?

The current rhetoric is that charter schools serve at risk students; whether that is low income or poor educational options.  I think that there is another category; students that do not fit the current mold. They have different learning styles or special needs and forcing a round peg in a square hole, has consequences for the child.  Unless public schools in NH are willing to meet the needs of ALL students learning needs which includes addressing bullying, teaching to the student and not the test, and teaching to the many different learning styles, charter schools should be fairly funded.

The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee will meet again on December 13 and needs a ⅔ vote to take the grant off the table for any further consideration. Below is the contact information for the committee members.

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Read more about the grant and the Fiscal Committee’s vote at Politicizing Public Education. Learn more about various educational options, including our chartered public schools, at our FAQ and Map page.