My Turn: Students will be better off with more educational options

For the Monitor
Published: 12/7/2019 6:00:33 AM

All our state’s students deserve the best education possible, and many people contribute to making that happen. Parents, teachers and school officials are all critical in the effort to educate our kids and help them unlock their potential. But our state legislators are also important, because they help set the overall approach that schools take in our state – and right now, they are failing.

Our schools always deal with challenges, and administrators are charged with offering our kids a high-quality education even in the face of those challenges. New Hampshire’s schools will see declining enrollment in the years ahead, and we need to account for that.

With this in mind, the state Department of Education applied for a federal grant that will help at-risk students and create public charter schools that are better prepared to adapt and succeed under just these conditions. Earlier this year, the federal government responded by awarding $46 million in multi-year assistance to help fund the expansion of public charter schools in the state. This is the largest grant of this kind in the nation.

Unfortunately, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee of the state Legislature is holding up the grant – a move that can only hurt students and families.

Expanding public charter schools would help offer more equal access for all our kids to an education that best meets their needs. Right now, many children are stuck in a school that does not respond to their needs and talents.

Every Granite State student deserves an education that works for them, no matter where they live or the income of their parents. That starts with leveling the playing field for all students and parents to access the right education. Rejecting this grant – one that’s already been appropriated at the federal level – would only serve to deny students and their families the freedom to choose the right type of education for them.

Ultimately, our goal has to be to ensure the best possible education for all New Hampshire students. We want our K-12 schools to help them build knowledge and skills, and to identify and unlock their talents and passions. Doing so is critical to future success – whether in college or in life.

To that end, all kids should have access to a quality education, regardless of their income or ZIP code – one that provides them the opportunity to learn and succeed by applying their abilities in ways to help improve their lives.

We shouldn’t expect every state or school district to adopt the same answers and approaches. But in New Hampshire, in an era of declining enrollment, our leaders should accept this assistance to expand public charter schools in some areas. Charter schools – which are still part of our public school system – are designed to offer more educational options that are responsive to students’ individual needs.

While this important funding is held up, this issue is not over. The Fiscal Committee is expected to seek more information and revisit the issue. When they do so, we can only hope that our legislators will recognize the importance of creating better educational options for students and families – and act to release this funding.

(Sarah Scott is deputy director of grassroots operations at Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire.)


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