In a few short weeks NH residents will select a governor, five executive council members, 24 state senators, and 400 state representatives who will have decision-making authority on education policies and state agency members for the next two years. The outcome will greatly impact our children’s education and schools for years to come.
Below is a list of 10 simple questions voters can pose to candidates to find out where they stand on critical school choice issues. Note they are a mix of positive and negative questions, specifically designed to make it a bit more challenging for candidates to immediately discern the “correct” answer.
Do you believe only public schools can provide an adequate education?
Preferred response: If schools are responsive to parents, students will receive an education that fits their needs. Market-driven forces and competition improve education for all students.
Do you support the tax-credit scholarship program for families of low to moderate means?
Preferred response: NH’s tax-credit scholarship program does a great job leveling the playing field for our neediest families. Wealthier families already have access to choice; the scholarship empowers families who would otherwise be limited to their zip-code assigned schools.
Read K-12 Scholarships in NH for more information.
Do you believe charter schools are only beneficial to students in socio-economic challenged communities?
Preferred response: NH’s public charter schools provide the opportunity for students to access a learning environment that better fits their unique needs and goals within the public school system. Charters offer greater flexibility for teaching methods and philosophies that may be more supportive of some students, and that is not limited by zip codes or socio-economic status.
Do you believe homeschoolers need more accountability to the state to ensure they are complying with all state laws and education standards?
Preferred response: Homeschooling families are required to conduct year-end evaluations, even though the results may be kept private. Should the student eventually enroll in another school setting, they will need to provide some evidence of proficiency — transcripts or placement tests — just like other transfer students. Also, homeschoolers are already accountable given they are preparing their children for their futures. If college is the goal, homeschoolers must meet comparable admission requirements for post-secondary schools or training programs. There is no evidence of NH homeschooling students “falling through the cracks.”
Do you support parents having the ability to refuse their children’s participation in statewide assessments?
Preferred response: Parents have the right to direct their children’s education, and that does not end when they are enrolled in public schools. They may have any number of reasons why to refuse their child’s participation in the statewide assessments — test anxiety, concerns of over-testing, problems with student information put at risk, and more. The state DOE has always recognized that parents may refuse. The state is accountable to parents; not the other way around.
Should local school boards have the ability to make tuition agreements with area public and private schools for out-of-district placements?
Preferred response: The state already recognizes public-private tuition agreements, including with schools located out-of-state. Local school boards, residents, and parents should be trusted to make decisions to better fit their students’ needs.
Read more at Support Croydon.
Do you believe the tax-credit scholarship program improperly allows state dollars to be used at private schools?
Preferred response: The tax-credit scholarship is funded by private donations, not state money; therefore parents may use the funds for tuition at private and religious schools of their choice or for homeschooling expenses.
For more information read What Do They Have Against Needy Students.
Should there be more privacy protections for public school students’ information?
Preferred response: The state has a couple student databases including the massive Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and Initiative for School Empowerment and Excellence (i4see). They collect a great amount of personal and academic information on students which they share with other government agencies and third-party organizations. Parents should receive more information about these databases, who has access, and ways to protect their students’ private information.
Read NH’s Student Database for more information.
Do you believe chartered public schools should be required to follow all the same standards and requirements as traditional public schools?
Preferred response: Because all of NH’s charter schools are part of the public school system, they already must follow many of the same requirements as traditional public schools, such as fair and equal enrollment practices, provide learning disability supports, participation in statewide testing, and more. They are also tuition-free to NH residents. Charters have flexibility with regards to certified teachers on staff and learning methods. This flexibility is key to the success of charter schools and their students.
Do you support families having more access to educational options to better meet their children’s unique learning needs and goals?
Preferred response: Educational options are a win for students, schools, and communities. When students have educations that fit their needs, everyone benefits.
Many incumbents are up for re-election, too. Find out their grades in the 2016 Legislator Report Card based on their voting records.
Elections matter and supporting solid school choice candidates is the simplest way to make a difference. Remember to vote on November 8th. Thank you!