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ANHPE Update 12/10/12: Education funding amendment under discussion

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Friends of New Hampshire Public Education,

First, it’s worth scanning down the list of education bills we’re now following.  So far, these are just Legislative Services Requests and will not become bills with the details filled in for awhile. Many of the anti-education bills brought forward from in last year’s session are presumably DOA.  But still, there are a lot of bills.
Another education funding amendment is on the way
The headline is that Rep. Gary Richardson and Sen. Nancy Stiles will propose another education funding amendment.
Last year, Rep. Richardson made the case that a desirable amendment would be one that enabled targeting but did not change the responsibility of the Legislature to fund education or the power of the Court to enforce the Constitution.  Sen.Stiles says she is authoring an amendment that goes back to language that has received support in the past.  She might be referring to something like this, CACR 18 in the 2007 legislative session.  CACR 18 was focused more on targeting and less on the court as well, so might be similar to Rep. Richardson’s proposal.  Then-Sen. Hassan seemed supportive of the concept at that time.
Anything that Sen. Stiles and Rep. Richardson propose is automatically credible.  However, many attorneys, advocates and legislators knowledgeable about education funding make the case that targeting to communities in need is possible already – without a constitutional amendment.
ANHPE agrees and will flesh out the targeting-can-be-done-now case in the coming days.
Lots of early childhood development in New Hampshire
The Gap perpetuates poverty and poor educational performance.  But Spark NH, the hub of early child development energy in New Hampshire, is out to do something about it.  Look at the number and breadth of the council members.  They have a big agenda and will continue to grow.
Tom Raffio, chair of the New Hampshire Board of Education and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, has been talking about the importance of early childhood development and getting business leaders interested.  He and Fred Kocher are forming a business and educator round table to promote improved student readiness for the workforce, including early childhood education.
That will be an important step because New Hampshire is one of only a few states in the country with no publicly supported Pre-K education program.  All the other New England states have good programs.  Vermont’s is most impressive, reaching 67% of the 4 year olds.  Vermont has built a highly productive public/private partnership – a model for us?

Rough sledding for private school vouchers
There’s been a lot of objection in other states to voucher programs funding secular schools that teach a creationist curriculum (and here).  The Louisiana voucher program has been declared unconstitutional in lower courts for that reason and others.  We have schools in New Hampshire that teach at same curriculum – this one, for instance.
In Wisconsin and other states, there are new calls for accountability in voucher schools.  There is no accountability required of voucher schools in New Hampshire.
Governor-Elect Hassan and many legislators continue to discuss repeal of the voucher plan or at least putting the plan on hold right away while options are discussed.  It’s a bad plan paid for by our property tax payers.  And it, in effect, shifts money from poorer to richer communities.  One way or another, it needs to be gone.


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