If you are not yet alarmed about Commissioner Edelblut’s proposal to privatize public education in New Hampshire, here’s our background on his Learn Everywhere plan and here is great coverage by Reaching Higher NH. The current version of the plan is here on page 345 of the board packet for the Thursday, June 13, SBOE meeting, where the board is expected to vote on the package.
Board chair Drew Cline may have to vote for the first time to get the votes needed to move the controversial plan forward, but if he does, there will still be two big obstacles. The plan is packaged as a rule so the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules must agree that it is an accurate implementation of the enabling statute. Is is not. So there is a good chance they will kill it or change the key bad provisions.
In addition, SB 140, which puts control of high school diplomas back where it belongs, in the hands of local school boards, has passed the both the House and the Senate with strong support and has a good prospect of becoming law.
That is the context. Now the nonpartisan New Hampshire League of Women Voters, which seldom weighs in on policy issues, has issued a statement in today’s Concord Monitor. It is a good summary and critique of the plan:
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, like many others in the Granite State, supports the primacy of local control in the determination of both standards and competencies, as well as in the evaluation of whether and how well those standards and competencies are met. When students are awarded their high school diplomas, local educators and local school boards are the ones accountable for ensuring that diploma requirements have been achieved by each new graduate.
New Hampshire’s public schools already award credit for work done outside the traditional high school program, including Extended Learning Opportunities coordinated by the local high schools. Running Start programs, taught by local secondary teachers with a master’s degree in the field, grant local high school credit and community college credits through the New Hampshire Community College System. We urge the New Hampshire State Board of Education to support learning opportunities such as these rather than the ill-defined Learn Everywhere proposal.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire therefore opposes the April 11 State Board of Education draft of the rules that authorize the Learn Everywhere program.
Those revised rules:
■Place the process for approval, monitoring, and oversight of Learn Everywhere providers in the control of the Department of Education with vetting by a newly appointed committee, bypassing local school district control.
■Require local districts to award academic credits for learning outside the classroom.
■Transfer the authority to approve academic programs from the local school districts and school boards to the State Board.
■Force the local superintendents to accept at least one-third and up to 100% of the credits for Learn Everywhere experiences.
■Lower the grading system to pass/fail rather than the multi-level existing systems (such as Exceeds Proficiency, Proficient, Approaching Proficient, Not Proficient).
Not addressed by the draft rules are:
■Acknowledgment that accreditation of schools and colleges requires both authority and accountability evidence provided by each individual school being accredited.
■Application requirements of colleges and universities, which themselves face accreditation requirements for local governance and assessment.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire urges the New Hampshire State Board of Education to place the power for granting credit for extended learning and work-based programs in the control of local school districts and school boards – where that power belongs.
(Liz Tentarelli is president of the League of Women Voters New Hampshire.)
ed a strong statement opposing Learn Everywhere in today’s Concord Monitor: