Chartered public schools are facing multiple challenges in the coming several months. Not only did the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee recently table a $46 million federal grant intended to expand our chartered public schools, several bills are filed for the 2020 legislative session and some would put more restrictions on these critical educational options within the public-school system. On the positive side, there is increasing support for educational options and chartered public schools across various demographic groups.
$46 M Grant Tabled
This fall the New Hampshire Department of Education announced the state received a $46 million grant from the federal Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program. NH was one of only three states to receive the grant, and awarded the highest amount. It is intended to help expand and replicate successful chartered schools and create new ones in areas of need to support at-risk and educationally disadvantaged students.
In a statement from the DOE, Commissioner Frank Edelblut said, “New Hampshire charter schools have not only provided excellent educations for Granite State students, but provided a model for innovation and education improvement for the nation. Every kid deserves an educational environment in which they can thrive. Charter schools provide a valuable alternative for students who need one.”
In early November, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee tabled the grant in a 7 to 3 partisan vote, effectively stopping it from entering the state. Unless they vote to reconsider the grant at an upcoming meeting, NH will lose the grant.
Families and school leaders across the state are upset with the committee’s vote.
A mother of five children and state representative, Dr. Becky Owens, said the following:
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.
Kelli Twiss with the Granite State Arts Academy shared these 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.”
Stacy Johnson and Kelly Gordon with the Seacoast Charter School published a letter in the Concord Monitor.
We and our colleagues have taught in traditional public schools and at private schools, and we would never say anything negative about the way another school operates. The work we do, and the work done by teachers in every type of school across the state, is too important to pit people against each other. We believe everyone in education should support one another.
We also believe that students benefit when they have multiple public schools to choose from. Since every child is different, doesn’t it make sense that we need different types of schools to meet the needs of every student?
The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee will meet next on Friday, December 13th at the Legislative Office Building, room 210-211 at 10:00am.
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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.
The start of the 2020 legislative session is not far off and several bills are filed regarding chartered public schools. So far it appears, based on limited information, that some will likely have a negative impact on these important educational options within our public-school system. Please consider following us to keep up with these bills over the coming months.
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School Choice and Charter Schools are Important to Families
Recent polls show that educational opportunities, and chartered public schools in particular, are important to people across various demographics and political affiliations. While school choice and charters seem to be partisan issues in the Granite State, they are less so among voters who put their children’s education at high value.
John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children said,
“Most parents want a different option for their child and are willing to make sacrifices to go to a better school if they had the option. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and communities of color are all demanding greater choice in K-12 education. It’s time for policymakers to listen to these voters and pass legislation that gives more families the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their child.”
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The President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Nina Rees, said this about the EdNext poll:
“Today’s results are a powerful reminder that parents vote with their feet, and support for charter schools is growing.”
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