New law will improve our schools

Last modified: 2/3/2012 12:00:00 AM
Does the public school system serve the educators in New Hampshire or the students and parents?

Gov. John Lynch vetoed HB 542, showing many parents that he is out of touch with what is going on in the public school system. I applaud and thank the Legislature for overriding his veto and putting the control of public education back into the hands of parents and students.

HB 542 supports parents when they object to material used in the classroom. Parents must pay for alternative material, and it must be agreed upon by both the parents and the administration. HB 542 does not dictate what needs to be taught in a classroom, so the argument that there is an "overreach" with this legislation is simply false.

Parents pay the taxes that fund public schools, and it is their children who are sometimes subjected to inferior programs. Why would anyone object to allowing parents to direct the taxes they paid to guide their children the best way they see fit?

"One size fits all" education does not work for many students.

In 1999 parents in Texas filed a class-action lawsuit against the Plano Independent School District for denying an alternative to the Connected Math Program (which many parents opposed). Texas state law at that time provided parents an option of an alternative program if sufficient numbers wanted it. The alternative program conformed to guidelines and required no additional expense to the school. The parents were awarded $400,000.

 Fuzzy math


An employee at Sylvan Learning Centers in Bedford confirmed for me that many Bedford students are now seeking private tutoring due to the "fuzzy" math in the school (the "Everyday Math" program). Prior to the adoption of fuzzy math, Sylvan didn't need to provide math tutoring services to Bedford students.

The New York Daily News recently reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan could remove 1,700 teachers from failing schools. Unfortunately, nowhere in the plan does it state that they will remove the poor-quality textbooks many teachers are forced to use in the classroom - ignoring again the deficiencies in materials that sometimes prevent the teacher from offering the quality parents expect.

Several states have passed legislation tying a teacher's evaluation to the standardized test. Not only are students and parents paying a high price for poor-quality programs, but unfortunately teachers are now going to also going to be paying a high price.

 Academically rich


I don't expect we will see large numbers of parents objecting to any material that is academically rich in content. However, if the material is "dumbed down" or from an extreme political perspective, I suspect we may see some parents objecting and asking for quality materials as a substitute.

I would hope that any legislation that seeks to empower parents and improve the quality of education would have bipartisan support.

I applaud the teachers who have had to use inferior materials in their classroom and have worked to fill in the gaps as best they can.

Not only have many parents been ignored, but teachers have also been told they have to use these materials because fuzzy math programs meet the fuzzy math standards.

Parents know what's best for their children. I would hope that educators would be supportive of collaborating with parents instead of having to answer to government bureaucrats who think they know how best to run the school system.

(Ann Marie Banfield of Bedford is education liaison for Cornerstone Action.)

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