Education

Last week, lawmakers in Concord signed off on a plan to provide state support for full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire. The new law will use revenue from the electronic gambling game keno to give school districts more money for full-day kindergarten.

NHPR reporter Jason Moon recently sat down with NHPR host Sally Hirsch-Dickinson to talk about what this mean for schools and town across New Hampshire. Listen to their conversation here.

C. Hanchey via Flickr CC.

The city of Nashua will now offer full-day kindergarten at all of its elementary schools. That decision comes as lawmakers in Concord decide whether to support full-day kindergarten state-wide.

Nashua joins the roughly three quarters of school districts around the state that offer full-day kindergarten programs.

Districts who offer full-day programs, do so without support from the state.

But interim superintendent of Nashua Schools Connie Brown says with an overall decline in enrollment, they will be able to implement the program at no cost.

New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

A new report shows disparities in school funding in New Hampshire persist, two decades after a landmark lawsuit targeted the state’s education funding system.

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The SAT scores of 11th graders in New Hampshire are up slightly from last year.

Preliminary data released this week shows New Hampshire’s high school juniors improved their scores in both the math and English portions of the College Board SAT.

Two-thirds met the state’s proficiency benchmark in English, while 44 percent met the benchmark in math.

This is the second year that the SAT has been used as the statewide assessment for 11th graders.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

When Republicans took full control in Concord this year, they wasted no time outlining an ambitious policy agenda on a number of fronts, including education.

While Republicans were able to accomplish much of that agenda, they weren’t able to get everything they wanted. Here’s a rundown of some major developments in education policy so far this year.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Hudson Middle School principal Keith Bowen noticed a disturbing trend a couple of years ago.

"A lot of our achievement scores hadn’t changed, despite all our efforts."

Test scores are one thing. But then Bowen noticed more troubling trends.

"We started to hear about the opioid crisis. There were a lot of students who lost a parent, partly because of opioid use, partly due to suicide."

In other words, students were dealing with challenges bigger than algebraic equations.

David Fernandez via Flickr

New rules on the certification of school nurses are causing a stir.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill that tightens the requirements for who can work as a school nurse in New Hampshire. Among other things, it requires a bachelor’s degree and certification from the state Board of Education – just like a teacher.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Dozens of people showed up to the State Board of Education meeting Thursday morning. They came to weigh in on a proposal to reevaluate the state standards on math and English.

Board members heard from parents, teachers, and business leaders on a request made by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut to reevaluate the state standards in math and English. These standards define what students should know, and help shape what actually gets taught in the classroom.

John DePetro was among those in favor of a review.

Jason Moon for NHPR

With 14,000 students from a huge variety of backgrounds, the Manchester School District is both the largest and most diverse in the state.

But those distinctions come with challenges that sometimes result in stark disparities between schools just a few miles apart.

The New Hampshire Department of Education has unveiled a draft of its plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, was passed in 2015 as a replacement for No Child Left Behind.

Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin

Dartmouth Professor N. Bruce Duthu has turned down the position of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences following charges that he supported a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. 

Duthu, a professor of Native American Studies and an Associate Dean, was appointed earlier this spring to be the next Dean of the Faculty starting July 1.

Casey McDermott

Commencement ceremonies took place this weekend at UNH, after a tense few weeks at the school, with a series of racial incidents prompting  community-wide conversations about campus diversity.

This weekend’s ceremony offered a chance to reflect but also to look forward. 

Mike Ross, UNH

In recent weeks the University of New Hampshire has seen a string of racially charged incidents play out on campus. The events are forcing a difficult conversation just days before graduation.

Peter Biello for NHPR

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut has pulled the plug on a scheduled speaking engagement at a GOP event this weekend.

CREDIT MIKE ROSS, UNH

UNH President Mark Huddleston addressed a growing string of racially charged incidents at the school’s Durham campus in recent weeks.

plymouth.edu

A new scholarship program at Plymouth State University will focus on reaching students in the North Country.

A now-deceased descendant of one of the school’s original funders donated $1.5 million to the university. The gift provides for a scholarship fund that will help up to 20 students with financial need each year. Priority will be given to students from Coos, Grafton, and Carroll Counties.

Paula Lee Hobson with Plymouth State says the donor, Ann Haggart, had a special connection with the North Country.

Peter Biello for NHPR

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is asking lawmakers to up state spending on STEM education and career technical education.

In a request to the Senate Finance Committee, Commissioner Edelblut is requesting $17 million for the renovation of two career technical centers in Rochester and Plymouth, $4 million to expand broadband internet to more schools in the state, and about $900,000 to establish a grant program for robotics education.

In Manchester, the city School Board has approved a plan by the superintendent to lay off 14 school district employees.

The positions to be eliminated all come from Manchester high schools and include an English teacher, a Latin teacher, and a P.E. teacher.

Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says the layoffs are a direct result of declining enrollment in the Manchester School District – that trend has been steady over the last decade.

With fewer students, the district gets less money from the state. Vargas says stopping that decline is one of his major priorities.

Jason Moon for NHPR

At a town hall style event on Friday, State Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut declined to take a position on whether the state should fund full day kindergarten programs.

Speaking to a crowd of about 75 at New England College, Commissioner Edelblut was asked by audience members about several ongoing education policy debates.

On state funding for full day kindergarten, which has the support of Governor Chris Sununu, Edelblut declined to offer an opinion. He stressed that the department doesn’t take positions on pending legislation.

Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr CC

The Republican-controlled House Education Committee voted 15 to 4 today to offer state support for full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire for the first time.

Under the current state education funding system, kindergartners are counted at half the rate as other grades, so districts get just half the money to educate kindergartners as they do for students in other grades.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Lawmakers in the House put the brakes on a sweeping school choice bill that would have allowed parents to use public money for private school and homeschool expenses.

The House Education Committee voted to retain the bill, which means it is effectively dead for the current session.

Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will debate a controversial education bill Tuesday that would allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private school tuition and homeschool expenses.

The bill is testing how far and how fast school choice advocates are willing to go in implementing their agenda.

About 1,000 New Hampshire students who apply to Keene State College and Plymouth State University are not offered admission — and now, those two institutions are offering them alternative pathways through future enrollment.

The Public Promise initiative provides paths including associate degree programs, Dual Admission options and targeted coursework. Once completed, the options would allow students to transfer into the institution of their choice.

Public Promise will start in May with outreach to applicants wanting to attend college in fall 2017.

The Manchester School Board has approved a new plan for how students will progress from one school to the next. It’s the first step in a broader school redistricting effort in the state’s largest city.

For nearly a decade, city officials in Manchester have been trying to overhaul the system that determines which kids go to which schools.

Last night, the School Board took its first step. It approved a change to the feeder pattern - which determines the path students follow as they move from elementary to middle to high school.

Wednesday night, the Manchester school board will vote on proposals that would change how students move from one school to another.

This overhaul of what's known as the feeder pattern is just one part of a larger redistricting process that the city has been struggling to accomplish for nearly a decade.

NHPR reporter Jason Moon spoke with All Things Considered host Peter Biello about the process, and why it's been so fraught for so long.

Via LinkedIn

Governor Chris Sununu has tapped Drew Cline, a former editorial page editor at the Union Leader newspaper, to join the state board of education.  Cline will replace Tom Raffio, who has been on the board since 2007.

Raffio’s official term has been up since January, but he continued to serve while the governor decided whether to keep or replace him.

Peter Biello for NHPR

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is dismissing claims that he’s seeking more power for his new position.

Earlier this week, Republican State Senator John Reagan introduced an amendment to a bill that would consolidate some authorities in DOE under the commissioner’s office.

Edelblut says he asked for the changes, but he disputes charges from Democrats and the state’s largest teachers union that this is a power grab.

A proposal to reorganize the state department of education is attracting some controversy.

Republican State Senator John Reagan proposed the change in an amendment to an unrelated education bill.

www.harriman.com

  Nashua's Board of Education approved a budget this week that includes full-day kindergarten at all of the city’s schools. Currently, full-day kindergarten is offered at six the city’s twelve elementary schools.

Its expansion has been championed by Jim Donchess, the city’s mayor.

Nashua’s school budget, including funds for full day kindergarten, will now go to the Board of Alderman and then the Board of Education.

About three quarters of towns and cities in New Hampshire offer full day kindergarten.

 Below story corrects information in an earlier post found here

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