HB 323 Radically Grants Control to the NH Commissioner of Education

by Jane Cormier

Recently, House Education Committee Chair, Rick Ladd introduced a dangerous amendment to HB 323, which was precipitously passed by the NH House. There was NO time for a careful review by the House members, nor any opportunity for the public to comment on this proposal. It was a last minute floor amendment, on a very busy session day, when everyone was already overloaded.

As written, the amendment enables the federal government to expand its inappropriate control over New Hampshire’s public schools. It grants the NH Commissioner of Education, a completely unprecedented amount of authority over our statewide assessments. (This ought to work out well.)

Under this proposal, the Commissioner will develop a new statewide assessment program WITHOUT OVERSIGHT. Let’s say that again. WITHOUT OVERSIGHT. The Commissioner may select the grades which will be required to participate in “new” Common Core aligned PACE assessment program. (This is a newly revamped idea to try to derail the outrage over Common Core Smarter Balance Assessments by eliminating parental right to REFUSE. You know how it goes – basically, the same program just CALLED something else…). In fact, the Commissioner may selectively approve which districts will be “allowed” to administer these new assessments. (This just keeps getting better and better.)

Here is what is so BAD about HB323:

  • Doesn’t allow REFUSALS or “opt outs” for parents if the assessments prove to be problematic

  • Adds MORE testing (weekly testing), does not reduce testing
  • Puts the State and Feds in control of curriculum instead of local school boards and parents
  • Implements workforce training that focuses on dispositions, attitudes and workforce skills vs literacy
  • Reduces students to “human capital” for the workforce vs. educating the student to the best of their abilities.

Previously, the General Court retained control over this process through its Legislative Oversight Committee. Coincidentally, Chairman Ladd is the current Chairman of this Committee.

So the question is, why would any legislator seek to RELINQUISH education control to the Commissioner? Certainly, not due to “good” behavior, as Commissioner Barry has failed to provide any transparency on the contents of this waiver “proposal” and has issued technical advisories which undermined the rights of parents to REFUSE Smarter Balance Assessments. (These “advisories” were encouraging districts to bully and intimidate parents into compliance across the state.)

None of this bodes well to local and parent-directed education of our youth. We should REJECT any legislation which seeks to diminish parental rights while empowering the NH Department of Education. We need to say NO and get government bureaucracy OUT of education.

Please contact your state Senator immediately. Tell them that parents do NOT want to expand the Commissioner’s authority. Parents want local control, not workforce training, which is essentially limited learning for lifelong labor. We can and must demand better. You can find your state senator: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

NH Families For Education are up to the minute with information regarding the NH DOE and education legislation. I invite you to visit them on Facebook or at their site: www.nhfamiliesforeducation.com.

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