I write to you today with extreme concern for many of the students in New Hampshire. As a parental rights advocate, the number of students suffering from the lack of in-school learning should have us all concerned.
I am currently participating in a few parent groups on social media that have popped up in an effort to push forward a complete re-opening of their public schools in New Hampshire. As I listen to their stories dealing with extremely challenging situations with their children, I felt compelled to send you an email questioning the logic behind an upcoming Zoom meeting on Wednesday, October 7th.
Chairman Kahn, members of the Senate Education & Workforce Development Committee, Commissioner Edelblut, and members of the New Hampshire State Board of Education, I ask you to look at the list of participating members included in this meeting. No where will you find distressed parents. No where are any parental rights advocates listed. Who will speak for the many parents who are desperate to be heard?
Why are lobbyists for principals listed but not the principals themselves? Why are the union representatives included but not the numerous teachers who continue to support a full re-opening of the schools? Parents who want their children in school, respect the decisions of other parents who want to continue working remotely. However, remote learning is not working for a large number of families in New Hampshire.
I’m concerned that within this limited discussion, you will hear limited viewpoints and not the viewpoints of the large numbers of parents and teachers, demanding that their schools fully open.
Their children are being sent to community centers but cannot enter a school building. Their children are dealing with mental health issues but your list does not include them or any mental health professionals who can provide information on how this shut-down has negatively impacted these children.
I will encourage parents to join the zoom meeting but a 9am meeting on a Wednesday morning also makes for a difficult time slot for those who are juggling a job and remote learning.
Some of the most important people in this crisis have been left out of the discussion. Why is that? Is there a way to revise this list prior to the meeting?
I feel the urgency that these parents are experiencing when they share their stories. Many feel that their voices are going unheard by Superintendents and some School Board Members. Now they will look at this meeting and question why they have no seat at the table.
Finally, I want to know if any of these shut-downs are due to “politics.” I urge you to read through the two articles listed below. One describes Education Reimagined, a blueprint put out in 2014 describing a new education model that removes teachers from the classroom and replaces them with online learning services. See page 5: Role of Adults. There is a shift away from teachers in the classroom to adults facilitating learning. Since this document includes signatures from the national teacher’s unions, Nellie Mae, Ed Tech companies, and other prominent individuals guiding education policy, I think parents need to know how much of this model they will see in their public schools in the future. Will their teachers eventually be replaced by online sources?
In the second article, written by a former teacher in Maine, Emily Talmage ties all of this together in an effort to also seek answers on this paradigm shift in public education. If Competency-Based Education is the vehicle to remove teachers in the classroom and, replace them with online learning facilitated by adults, parents need to understand this model so they can make the best decisions for their children.
These are the types of discussions parents need to hear and participate in. It was through the New Hampshire legislative body that Competency-Based Education was passed into law several years ago.
Please update me if there are any changes to this format. I will do my best to notify parents in New Hampshire so they can listen to the discussion.
Ann Marie Banfield
Literacy and Parental Rights Advocate