Today’s Union Leader Sunday News has great coverage of the school funding issue in two articles, Dave Solomon’s “Spending and student achievement linked, but that’s not the whole story” and Shawn Wickham’s companion piece “Granite State schools reveal their ‘special sauce’.” We’ll post more about them later but what immediately jumps off the page is the Governor’s statement on the school funding issue, provided through a spokesman:
“Gov. Sununu believes that investing in kids, not institutions, will produce positive results for New Hampshire students, which is why he supports SB 193, giving families more freedom in their children’s education,” he said, referring to the school choice bill backed by Sununu and Edelblut.
We have the Governor of New Hampshire saying he does not believe in investing in the public school “institutions” that educate New Hampshire’s children. He supports SB 193, co-authored by his education commissioner, to invest in private school institutions instead.
Here’s how U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos describes this same vision of public education:
“If we really want to help students, then we need to focus everything about education on individual students – funding, supporting and investing in them. Not in buildings; not in systems. It shouldn’t matter where a student learns so long as they are actually learning.”
And Jeb Bush agrees:
“My personal opinion is that the 12,000 or 13,000 government-run, unionized, politicized monopolies — we call them school districts — is not the best governance model for the world we’re moving towards.”
Rochester Republican State Senator Jim Gray voices the same widely held view in a recent letter to the Fosters Daily Democrat, saying that education funding monies actually belong to the kids and that it’s fundamental right of tax paying parents to use that money as they see fit. Here’s how he says it:
…The State of New Hampshire distributes money to each school district for each child attending….
…I believe that every child deserves an education. I believe that the funds for education are for all of the children of the state not just those that attend a public school. I believe that students who would be better served in a home school setting should have that opportunity.
While supporters talk of reaching poor kids with SB 193, the bigger vision is private and home school funding for all parents.
In the meantime, New Hampshire schools lead the country in student achievement and innovation. We get the kind of commitment Shawne Wickham writes about in her piece today. She quotes Joe Voci, the 23 year leader of one of our highly successful public school institutions, the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School in Bartlett:
“So I think those [high state test] scores come from really getting to know your kids, really knowing what they’re good at, their strengths, and kind of concentrating on those things they need to improve on,” he said.
The town was one of the first to fund full-day kindergarten and at the recent town meeting, residents voted overwhelmingly to fund a public preschool program. “That early intervention is huge,” Voci said.
It’s about “equalizing the playing field,” he said. In the past, kindergartners who did not attend preschool “came in behind and stayed behind.”
“It shouldn’t matter whether a child is born rich or poor,” Voci said. “It shouldn’t matter where in New Hampshire a child is born. That shouldn’t affect their educational opportunities.”…..
“It’s a heart thing,” he said.
Governor Sununu and Commissioner Edelblut should visit Principal Voci and the many other great school leaders to get a new vision of what is possible if they invested in our public schools.