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Charter schools vs. the school choice movement: who speaks for charter schools in New Hampshire?

Charter, voucher and anti-Common Core advocates (mostly the same people) teamed up to mobilize charter school parents and others in opposition to my nomination to the State Board of Education.  I’ve now been confirmed but the debate itself highlighted again the difference between the charter schools and the school choice movement.


The HB 435 highlighted the tipping point in New Hampshire charter policy

Dave Solomon, from his new “Granite Status” chair replacing John DiStaso, wrote recently that charter schools

“…are enormously popular in the 16 communities where they exist….But charter school advocates are not feeling the love.”

He was referring to the fact that Rep. Ken Weyler (R-Kensington) and other charter advocates are angry the HB 435 failed.  The bill would have increased charter tuition aid by indexing it to the average cost of education in New Hampshire. (more…)

Wrong again, Charlie. NHDOE projections of charter funding are precise and conservative

Mr. Arlinghaus’ erroneous column from two days ago has been pulled from the web.  The Union Leader, running a correction for the biggest error, agrees that NHDOE was the author of a financial analysis clearly labeled as coming from NHDOE.  (The column made  other errors as well, like misunderstanding which bill was actually under discussion.) (more…)

HB 435, to increase charter funding, sent to interim study.

The New Hampshire House voted 167-151 this afternoon to send to interim study HB 435, the bill that would have fundamentally changed how charter schools are funded in New Hampshire.

This was a good step.  Now it will be important for all who support the good work that charters do to help the study committee this summer figure out a way for New Hampshire charters to thrive alongside district schools.

NHDOE confirms the validity of its analysis that HB 435 carries a very high cost for NH

Apparently Matt Southerton, Director, NH Center for Innovative Schools, wrote to NHDOE Commissioner Virginia Barry questioning the authenticity of this clearly marked analysis of the impact of HB 435, the bill to charter school tuition aid.  This morning, the Department of Education responded with this letter to Mr. Southerton.

The first point to make is that, as I said here this morning, the projections are obviously made – with great attention to detail – by NHDOE.  In addition, NHDOE responded point-by-point to a number of the objections Mr. Southerton apparently raised in his letter – points which were faithfully repeated by Charlie Arlinghaus in his Union Leader column this morning.

This should end the back and forth about the authenticity and validity of the NHDOE projections.  The only question now is whether House members think New Hampshire can afford to build a second, state-funded, charter school system in addition to our locally-funded public schools.

NHDOE projections are realistic. HB 435 will change charter funding forever.

Take this to be bank: Charlie Arlinghaus is wrong in today’s Union Leader about the source of the charter funding projections I post here and about the impact of HB 435, the bill to change the way charters are funded in New Hampshire.  He’s even wrong about what the bill says.

Here are the facts: (more…)

Message to NH House members: HB 435 would increase charter funding by $30 million in the next 3 years

You will vote on HB 435 this week – for the second time.  When you passed HB 435 through to Finance in January, the bill may have looked like a proposal to use up a little extra appropriation in the charter schools account.  Now it is clear that HB 435 is a much bigger step than that. (more…)

New NHDOE projections show the high cost of charter schools in New Hampshire

It’s difficult to make accurate projections about future charter enrollments and costs.  How fast will existing schools expand?  How soon will new ones get started?  How much would charters cost under various funding projections?

I have done projections based on the best figures I could put together.  And now the New Hampshire Department of Education has released its own calculations.  The NHDOE projections are similar to mine but their figures suggest that, where I projected that HB 435 could cost the State $25 million more over the next three years, NHDOE thinks the figure could be closer to $30 million.

In both cases, these are predictions so it is important to read the assumptions in the footnotes, but the message is the same: charter school funding has been growing fast in New Hampshire and HB 435 will further accelerate that growth.

Charters replacing school boards – a future NH can’t afford

In New Hampshire, we tend to see charters as locally grown alternative schools for a few students with special needs or special talents.  Many of us have children or neighbors who may have benefitted from a charter school.

But if you stand back and look at the charter school movement in the United States, the picture is much different.  Although overall charter school performance is essentially the same as that of traditional public schools, the opportunity to create a privately managed school with public funding has, with heavy promotion from the U.S. Department of Education, led to high growth in charter enrollments.  There are now almost 3 million charter school students in the U.S., double the number in the 2007/8 school year.  One third of the schools, with 44% of the students, are managed by multi-school management organizations.  (Just over half of those are for-profit.).


Should adequacy funding pay for charter school expansion?


HB 435 will come to the House floor in March with a recommendation of interim study (13-8) from the Finance Committee.

The bill carries a large price tag.

Now that charter enrollment is growing so quickly, the $1,231 per student increase in HB 435, with further automatic increases every year, would have a major impact on the General Fund.  If enrollment continues to grow at its current rate, the price tag for HB 435 could be as much as $117 million over the next 3 years. (more…)