Politicizing Public Education

In a blatant politically-charged vote on Friday, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee decided to table a $46 million federal grant awarded to New Hampshire to support 20 new chartered public schools focused on at-risk and educationally disadvantaged students.

All of New Hampshire’s 29 charter schools are non-profit public schools. As such, they must accept students on a non-discriminatory basis, only limited by available seats. They are not restricted by zip codes and may use different educational approaches and pedagogies. New Hampshire has various types of charter schools, including Montessori, STEM, fine-arts, ones that support at-risk students, and more.

As of the 2018-2019 school year, there are 3,932 students enrolled in chartered public schools across the Granite State. There are schools like Mills Falls Charter School in Manchester that has 168 students, but has a wait-list of over 500 children. The Academy for Science and Design Charter School in Nashua, a National Blue Ribbon award-winning school, has 532 students and a wait-list of over 100 children.

Clearly, families want more educational opportunities within our public-school system.

New Hampshire was one of only three states to be awarded a grant from the federal Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program. It would give the state $10.1 million in the first year of the grant with the rest of the funds disbursed over the following four years.

At our charter school event on Thursday evening, Commissioner Frank Edelblut said the grant could be used to replicate and expand successful charter schools, and open new ones across the state.

He mentioned that public schools can sponsor charter schools, as was done for the North Country Charter Academy. In that situation, several superintendents recognized that a significant portion of their student population had different learning needs and they wanted to create a different learning environment to support them.

In a statement released by the Department of Education, Commissioner Edelblut said, “This grant would build on that success by giving both public charter and traditional district schools a chance to try new ways to reach students most at risk.”

The committee vote is a grave disappointment and a disservice to children who need a different educational fit from what is available at their local public school.

Kelli Twiss with the Granite State Arts Academy shared the following remarks:

US DOE: Here, NH. We would like to give you $46 million to expand charter schools and improve outcomes for disadvantaged students.

NH: No, thanks.

Does that seem ridiculous? Well, that is exactly what some people in NH said, “no, thank you” to providing much needed options for students who otherwise may not graduate high school at all. No thanks to giving kids that are not thriving in their district school an alternative path to success. No, thank you. Thanks, but no thanks. We feel all kids are the same and should just suck it up and go to the school they are assigned to based on zip code.”

Children have only one opportunity for their K-12 education. Why would the Democrat members of the fiscal committee hold children’s education hostage for political purposes?

The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee 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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Learn more about various educational options, including our chartered public schools, at our FAQ and Map page.