Statewide, our New Hampshire schools are great. But some, in a number of our cities and rural areas, face great challenges. The great improvements in Hillsboro provide an inspiring example of how to meet those challenges in the old fashioned way, with strong leadership and good teaching.
An oped in today’s New York Times tells the story of a 25 year improvement under tough conditions in Union City, NJ.
Public schools in such communities have often operated as factories for failure. This used to be true in Union City, where the schools were once so wretched that state officials almost seized control of them. How things have changed. From third grade through high school, students’ achievement scores now approximate the statewide average. What’s more, in 2011, Union City boasted a high school graduation rate of 89.5 percent — roughly 10 percentage points higher than the national average. Last year, 75 percent of Union City graduates enrolled in college, with top students winning scholarships to the Ivies.
As someone who has worked on education policy for four decades, I’ve never seen the likes of this. After spending a year in Union City working on a book, I believe its transformation offers a nationwide strategy.
Union City, Hillsboro and other New Hampshire communities provide a practical and inspiring alternative to the corporate education reform and privatization proposals we see around us. We should tell more of those stories.
I have to add that at the schools that I substitute for the teachers are doing an absolutely first rate job. Education is critical to a nation’s future growth and prosperity.