The poor man, whom the law does not allow to take an ear of corn when starving, nor a pair of shoes when freezing, is allowed to put his hand into the pockets of others and say, “You shall educate me.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson.
We’re obligated to educate our young. But while our New Hampshire constitution tells us to “cherish” education it does not tell us that we must indoctrinate and proselytize in the process.
So consider that a “Reaching Higher New Hampshire” electronic newsletter recently reported that an English Language teacher at Manchester West High School encouraged her students to write letters to the Commission to Study School Funding to highlight education “inequities” and ask for more money—the preponderance of which goes to teacher salaries.
It sounds to some like student exploitation: using youngsters to try to influence public policy and spending priorities to suit a narrow financial interest. It doesn’t get much more political than that.
We already live with proselytization and indoctrination in higher education. Statistical and anecdotal evidence abound. According to “Inside Higher Ed” 61% of liberal arts college faculty members identify as liberal while only 3.9% identify as conservative. Around 80% of students in Granite State college towns voted democratic in 2016. It is what it is. But professors have academic freedom and their students are adults—not impressionable grade-schoolers.
According to published reports and school statistics, 60% of West High School teachers were absent 10 or more times during the 180-day 2017-18 school year. This paid truancy wreaked havoc on school finances while disrupting education patterns. Yet West teachers want their students to lobby for more money for them. This is apparently not essay material—though perhaps it should be.
And what is the Commission to Study School Funding? It’s a 2019 creation of the Democratic legislature made up of education establishment sympathizers. The six legislators involved include five Democrats and one GOP moderate. The Commission’s inevitable conclusion will be that New Hampshire needs an income tax to generate more money for schools.
As a lifetime educator, it troubles me to see schools exploited by partisan interests focusing on money, influence, and political empowerment—as opposed to student success and the intrinsic rewards that motivate most teachers.
The Commission’s preordained inclinations earlier received cover from the media, including a Sept. 19 Concord Monitor “news” piece by a former Monitor editorialist which only cited data supporting the sentiments of the only members quoted—liberal Democrat legislators.
New Hampshire public schools already spend around $17,000 a year per student. But in a time of declining enrollments and declining test scores, the Commission will say more money is needed via a broad-based tax. The Commission itself was given a half-million taxpayer dollars by the Democratic legislature to provide expected conclusions justifying new taxes.
But pesky voters have now elected a new Republican legislature that will presumably take the Commission’s preordained recommendations with a few grains of salt. (Perhaps we should have a commission that focuses on student achievement as opposed to raising taxes?)
“Reaching Higher” is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. But a request to respond to their newsletter’s content was ignored. Not good.
It’s all quite illustrative of what some call the “Deep State.” Proselytizing educators. A quiescent if not collaborative media. Expensive commissions with preordained outcomes made up of partisan legislators and unelected bureaucrats.
Thank goodness those pesky voters sometimes get to have a say!