The Home Education Advisory Council held a special meeting on Thursday, June 3, 2021 because the regular meeting in May had problems with the online link, so the council could not officially conduct business. Our notes and video for this meeting are available here.
The HEAC members in attendance were Kitty Michelotti (Chairman, Granite State Home Educators), George D’Orazio (Vice Chairman, Catholics United for Home Education NH), Fred Fraser (Secretary, NH DOE Higher Education), Jennifer Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education NH), Stef Marsh (NH Homeschooling Coalition), Amanda Weeden (Granite State Home Educators), Shireen Meskoob (NH DOE), and Michelle Levell (member of the public). Several members were unable to attend, but a quorum was satisfied.
HEAC’s June special meeting was recorded and available here. GSHE has all of the 2020-21 meetings published on our YouTube channel and a special page of our website.
At the June meeting, HEAC approved the draft annual report that Chairman, Kitty Michelotti (GSHE), will present to the state Board of Education at a summer meeting.
It also gave an opportunity to discuss the NH Department of Education’s Recovering Bright Futures program that Representative Glenn Cordelli mentioned at the May meeting. Several HEAC members were unfamiliar with the new program and had questions.
GSHE interviewed Commissioner Edelblut about this new program in late April; our article and the recorded discussion are available here.
The NH DOE announced in mid-April that they are using a federal Covid grant to sponsor learning pods across the state. There are two forms: one is organized by local districts and is considered public education and the other is community-based and an option for homeschoolers. Both use the same curriculum that is aligned to state standards and enrolled students participate in the same statewide annual testing that public-school students take each spring. It is for students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade starting in fall 2021, and Prenda is the educational provider.
Families may reach out to the department at their new website, learningpodseducation.nh.gov, for more information, to apply, and to encourage their local districts to make learning pods available. The department’s FAQ also has details about the initiative. Families may also reach out to Prenda directly through their website specifically for NH and Facebook page.
HEAC’s homeschool representatives have concerns that the community model is homeschooling and uses public education standards and tests. They were told that taking the NH State Assessment System (NHSAS) test is a function of the funding source. Several expressed concerns that this could lead to requiring homeschoolers use official programs that align to state standards and tests, or use state approved sources.
The council decided to send an email to Commissioner Edelblut asking if the community model could be considered a separate way to satisfy education attendance requirements per RSA 193:1 so it is not under the home education option.
The Commissioner told HEAC he would discuss it with legal counsel.
HEAC is recessed for summer and will resume meetings in September 2021.
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By Michelle Levell