Our debates about public education in New Hampshire are part of a national debate on the future of American public education. We need to understand this debate as context for our discussions about public education in New Hampshire.
Sometimes we see these positions reflected in legislative and policy proposals. But we also need to realize that we are something of an island of sanity in the turbulent national education debate. Our voucher program is new, tiny, has little public or business support and may just die on the vine. Our charters are focused primarily on special situations that complement our public school systems. Student testing, teacher evaluations and implementation of Common Core State Standards have all been subject to sensible long term management and are not generating the level of public debate here that you see in other states. Perhaps most importantly, have not had the kind of top-to-bottom single party political leadership that has led to the most damaging education proposals in other states.
But this is a long term battle with the highest of stakes. National – and some local – advocacy organizations will continue to look for opportunities to advance the privatization process in New Hampshire. So this report is a good way to understand the terms of the debate and recognize where it will lead if we let it.
The article is long but, to draw you in, here’s the beginning. It’s definitely worth the read.
In statehouses and cities across the country, battles are raging over the direction of education policy—from the standards that will shape what students learn to how test results will be used to judge a teacher’s performance.
Students and teachers, in passive resistance, are refusing to take and give standardized tests. Protesters have marched to the White House over what they see as the privatization of the nation’s schools. Professional and citizen lobbyists are packing hearings in state capitols to argue that the federal government is trying to dictate curricula through the use of common standards.
New advocacy groups, meanwhile, are taking their fight city to city by pouring record sums of money into school board races.
Not since the battles over school desegregation has the debate about public education been so intense and polarized, observers say, for rarely before has an institution that historically is slow to change been forced to deal with so much change at once.
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia are implementing the Common Core State Standards, and nearly as many are developing common tests that are expected to debut in 2014-15.
More than three dozen states are working on incorporating student test scores into evaluations of teachers and principals.
And a majority of states are creating new accountability systems as part of the flexibility federal officials are offering through No Child Left Behind Act waivers.
All this change—and more—in education is happening against a backdrop of rapidly shifting demographics, technology that is changing lives at blazing speeds, and an economy still recovering from the Great Recession.
At the same time, education is caught in a push for state and federal budget austerity and faces a Congress so gripped by gridlock that some educators are wondering if the withering Elementary and Secondary Education Act will ever get rewritten.