Home > Uncategorized > Concord Monitor Op Ed Captures Current Situation, Backstory in NH Public Education

Concord Monitor Op Ed Captures Current Situation, Backstory in NH Public Education

September 25, 2018

This past Sunday’s Concord Monitor featured an op ed piece by Sam Osherson that accurately described the current state of affairs in New Hampshire public education and the backstory that led to where we stand now.

As readers of this blog realize, public schools in New Hampshire are now “led” by Frank Edelblut, a former businessman who ran for Governor in the GOP primary against Chris Sununu and nearly won despite receiving no support from the party leadership. The base of Mr. Edelblut’s support was Evangelicals, anti-government libertarians, and homeschooling parents who saw Mr. Edelblut’s experience as a homeschooling parent as a signal that he would support their continued efforts to operate with little to no oversight.

Once he was apportioned to the position despite his lack of qualifications, Mr. Edelblut’s speeches about public education mirror that of Betsy DeVos. He inaccurately decries the “poor performance” of New Hampshire schools (they are always ranked in the top 3-5 in the nation), the high paid “educrats” who lead the “failing government schools” (NH principals are paid $6,000 below the national average, teachers roughly $2,000 below the national average, and only a handful of Superintendents make a salary in excess of the national average of $156,000), and the need to introduce “choice” into schools to help them improve. Based on his public statements, he seems unaware of the initiatives launched during his predecessors term, initiatives in assessment and instruction that garnered favorable attention across the country.

So why is Mr. Edelblut sending a negative message about public education? The title of Mr. Osherson’s op ed piece explains: “Public Schools and the Push to Privatize Everything”. While Mr. Edelblut may be unaware of the economic theory of Hayek and Freidman that underlies his diatribes against public education, Mr. Osherson is clearly aware of it and clearly aware that it is communicated nationally thanks to well heeled billionaires:

There is now a well-established network of conservative think tanks across the country such as ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council – that supplies local right-wing legislators with boilerplate bills that they can introduce into their state houses. In addition, many national conservative organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity, send operatives to states to lobby for bills that support their agendas.

This privatization agenda has consisted of a “long effort to demonize public service workers – a constant theme of anti-government forces to the present.”

And the NH legislature, like Mr. Edelblut, may not be aware of economic theory, they ARE aware of the ALEC playbook and used it extensively in the most recent session to craft legislation that undercuts public schools and promotes privatization. In the last legislative session they came painfully close to enacting a bill that would have allowed millionaires to make tax deductible contributions to education savings accounts and created a de facto voucher system that would have diverted funds from public schools into private schools and even home schooling parents.

In his concluding paragraphs Mr. Osherson issues a call to action to those who want to improve public schools in new Hampshire:

Instead of draining public tax money away from public schools and toward a group of private schools outside of public oversight, we need elected officials who will dedicate themselves to the achievable goal of excellent public schools for all N.H. students.

Like other parts of the common good – affordable health care, our beautiful public lands, the right to vote for all – public schools now need us to step up in their defense. The Nov. 6 election provides an important opportunity for us all to support public education by electing public officials who understand its crucial role in our democracy.

Here’s hoping the public awakens to the agenda of the state and national GOP and turns out in November to vote those out of office who want to destroy democracy through the privatization of public schools.

 

 

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  1. Jamie
    September 27, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    The push for privatization is not an Agenda. It is the push for positive change within the education system.

    Many parents are homeschooling because of the inadequacies of the public schools. We are forcing kids into a one size fits all system. That simply doesn’t fit all. Many are left floundering and efforts to make change are met with resistance.

    School choice is needed so that those who don’t fit within the environment can still obtain an adequate education. A single system cannot do it all, and when they try there are failures. Stop fighting the need and start providing the means to adequate education.

    • September 28, 2018 at 9:25 am

      If privatization was a “push for positive change within the education system” I’d be all for it… because as the “About” section of this blog indicates there is a need for change within the public education system. Unfortunately, as Mr. Osherson notes in his op ed article, PROFIT is the motivation for the privatization movement in NH. As for homeschooling, I encourage you to read an article I wrote for Education Week in the early 2000s describing a homeschool-public school hybrid that I saw as a good model for the future. Alas the decision to adopt standardized test scores as the metric for public schools has made the kind of school described in that article an impossibility and reinforced the one-size fits all factory model that for-profit privatizers endorse.

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