Photo by Sam Warren via Wordpress

In rural towns, getting to school isn't always as easy as the walks I used to take in suburban Long Island. Small towns rely heavily on parents to give kids rides, and on kids taking lengthy bus rides...not exactly the healthiest option at a time when childhood obesity rates are climbing exponentially.

Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past, but every day hundreds of students — from preschoolers to high school seniors — are still being paddled by teachers and principals.

In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student.

"I been getting them since about first grade," says Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. "It's just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you're going to get."

Brainlesssteel via Flickr CC


The House Finance committee is taking a hard look at a bill that would eliminate the Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire. University trustees say that as written, the bill will cost the universities more money.

Milton Republican Robbie Parson’s bill has the backing of House leadership, and has already been approved in a preliminary vote on the house floor.

Photo by Pierre Vignau, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Making it to the NBA or any pro sports league is an expensive, potentially dangerous undertaking with extremely tough odds.  For homeschooled kids, the likelihood of a career in sports is especially tough. For years, many states barred kids from outside the public school system from playing on their athletic teams. Now, 25 states allow homeschooled students onto varsity teams, signaling a change in attitudes -  along with more room for debate on whether and how to integrate them.

There's little dispute among educators that kids are not reading as well as they should be, but there's endless debate over what to do about it. Now, a growing number of states are taking a hard-line approach through mandatory retentions — meaning third-graders who can't read at grade level will automatically get held back.

To those pushing the idea, it's equal doses of tough and love: You are not doing kids any favors, they say, by waiving them on to fourth grade if they aren't up to snuff on their reading.

Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.

Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.

Yawa Agbenowossi came to the United States from Togo, in West Africa, as a young child. She discovered the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester when she was in middle school. 

YAWA: Well, before I found the club, I just never took anything into consideration. I was never worried about the future. I found the club by a friend introducing it to me actually. She said that “you can come to the Boys and Girls Club” and soon enough I was coming there every day. They couldn’t keep me away from the club. That’s when I started to change.

Today, we sit down with New Hampshire’s Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.  We’ll talk with her about recent questions concerning the Federal No Child Left Behind law, and whether New Hampshire should seek a waiver.  Also, we'll examine recent bills in the Legislature aimed at increasing parental control over instruction and a possible education funding amendment.  


The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will revisit the divisive issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court agreed to hear arguments next fall in a case that challenges the affirmative action program at the University of Texas. By re-entering the fray after more than 30 years of settled law on the issue, the newly energized conservative court majority has signaled that it may be willing to unsettle much of that law.

Community School

Feb 18, 2012
Cheryl Senter, NHPR

The “local foods” movement is a growing trend. In South Tamworth, The Community School has embraced it – serving an open lunch for the community every week at no set charge, made of locally-produced foods. They call the program “Farmers’s Table.”

In his state-of-the-state speech, Governor Lynch made it clear that he’d like to see a change to the Constitution,  setting out how New Hampshire pays for public schools. Similar efforts have failed before, sometimes over the meaning of a single word or phrase.   We’ll look at this latest attempt, the arguments around it, and whether this year is the year an amendment is approved. 


The North Country’s Senator John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was among the 17 senators voting Wednesday in favor of a constitutional school funding amendment.

There were seven “no” votes.

As reported by NHPR’s Josh Rogers:

(Please) Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

Feb 14, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons/Just Some Dust

A bill requiring New Hampshire students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance passed a house committee today.

"Standing is a sign of national patriotism," says Republican Representative Lawrence Kappler.

Current law permits students to remain seated, as long as they are silent and respectful. The constitutionality of the bill is in question, however. Representative Gary Richardson believes that requiring someone to stand is clearly an issue of free speech. 

Flikr Creative Commons / Renator Ganoza

The New Hampshire Department of Education says it will not yet ask the federal government  for flexibility with the requirements of No Child Left Behind, the federal education law. The DOE is gearing up to request a waiver this spring.

According to state education officials New Hampshire is not ready to ask for a waiver from the toughest testing standards required under No Child Left Behind. Paul Leather from the Department of Education says  in order to get a waiver, the state must first build a system that will evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness.

Photo by F. Tronchin via Flickr Creative Commons

Same-sex marriage is back in the headlines with a ruling on Proposition 8 in California and legislative action in Washington state. Earlier this week, New Hampshire saw rallies both for and against traditional marriage. As this front in the culture war rages from coast to coast, maybe it’s time to figure out exactly what we’re fighting over.

House Votes to End Chancellor's Office

Feb 8, 2012

The New Hampshire House today voted to eliminate the Chancellor’s Office within the University System. The bill calls for many of the responsibilities of the Office to be shifted to the Board of Trustees and to school presidents. Created in 1974, the Chancellor’s duties include government relations, purchasing and audits.

Flikr Creative Commons/ evmaiden

The New Hampshire House voted to put off making a final decision on a pair of bills that would withdraw the state from No Child Left Behind, and forego $61.6 million dollars in federal funding.

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt from Salem cited the lost money as he urged collegues to table the bills.

"There are significant and justifiable concerns about withdrawing from this program," Bettencourt said, "concerns regarding the potential loss of significant federal funds currently being received by our local school districts."

Flikr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is currently awash in education bills, many of which will never see the light of day. However, some of these bills are setting the stage for big discussions about public schools, the role of the state, and the rights of parents.

To help sort through the confusion, the following is a roundup of bills coming before the House between now and Crossover day.

R.I. Student Draws Ire Over School Prayer Challenge

Feb 7, 2012

There are not many 16-year-olds who take a police escort to school, but until recently, Jessica Ahlquist was one of them.

An atheist, Ahlquist sued the city of Cranston, R.I., over a banner hanging in the auditorium of her high school, Cranston High School West. Printed on the banner, a longtime feature at the school, is a prayer to "Our Heavenly Father."

In January, a federal judge ordered the banner removed. The school board is expected to decide Thursday whether to appeal.

Chris LoCascio, a junior at UC Riverside, feared that there was no end in sight for tuition increases at the University of California. The state kept cutting subsidies, students kept protesting, but no one had any answers. So he and other students decided to turn the discussion on its head.

What if, he says, "instead of charging students upfront for their education, students would attend the UC with no upfront costs whatsoever"?

Under the Fix UC proposal, the bill would not come due until students graduate and start making money.

We sit down with Ross Gittell, the New Chancellor of New Hampshire’s Community College System.  As one of the state’s leading economists, Gittell enters the job with a deep understanding of  our business and jobs climate.  Now, as Chancellor, he hopes to draw upon that background:  making a strong link between education, training and economic health.  We'll talk with him about his new role


So-called helicopter parents first made headlines on college campuses a few years ago, when they began trying to direct everything from their children's course schedules to which roommate they were assigned.

With millennial children now in their 20s, more helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace, sometimes even phoning human resources managers to advocate on their child's behalf.

Megan Huffnagle, a former human resources manager at a Denver theme park, recalls being shocked several years ago when she received a call from a young job applicant's mother.

Flikr Creative Commons / Renato Ganoza


New Hampshire students continue to improve academically, according to the results of the latest round of standardized tests.

The New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, test students in grades 3 through 8 and eleventh graders.

The test shows that 67% of all students are proficient in math, up two percentage points from last year. 79% are proficient in reading, and only 54% are proficient in writing.

black man is President of the United States, an increasing number of women are running large companies, and same-sex marriage is legal in a  number of states. Still, hate crimes and societal and institutional discrimination continue across the country.  We tend to hear about the most egregious examples. We’re going to focus in this segment on the more subtle exercise of bigotry that academics call “microaggressions”.

The New Hampshire House is considering a plan to allow students replace any two public school courses with courses designed and taught by a parent or their designee. 

Under the bill, schools couldn’t veto subjects or teaching methods of parents but would have to grant students credits toward graduation. The measure’s sponsor, JR Hoell of Dunbarton, says the proposal affords parents a needed bit of freedom.

“Parents are taking a greater role in overseeing the academic progress of their children; the school system is taking a reduced role.”


A House Committee has voted to recommend that New Hampshire pull out of No Child Left Behind.

Republican lawmakers on the House education committee cited local control and small government as reasons to withdraw the state from No Child Left Behind.

The vote was along party lines.

The dissenting democrats say they too are frustrated with the federal education laws, but are concerned about the federal money the state would lose if it withdrew from the program.

If the bill passes the state would forfeit $63 million in federal grants.

Lawmakers heard testimony Monday about a bill that would give public school students an average of $2,500 for homeschooling or private school attendance.

The funds would come from a tax credit given to businesses that donate to state-certified scholarship programs.

 “In the last decade eight states have launched education tax credit programs to expand educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students,” said House Majority DJ Bettencourt, who sponsored the legislation.

“Education tax credit programs have saved money in other states,” said Bettencourt.

A decade ago, President Bush signed into this wide-ranging education reform bill into law, which has been hotly debated since. Supporters of No Child Left Behind said it was a “wake up call” for public schools, but opponents said it created a nightmare of paperwork and impossible expectations.  We’ll look at the legacy of NCLB, where its helped the national education system, its challenges and how the Obama White House has approached it.


By zooovro

A new law allows parents who object to certain classroom materials to request alternative coursework for their child.  Governor Lynch vetoed the bill last year, but the legislature recently overrode that veto.  We’ll look at arguments for and against this law, and how school districts may adapt.   


  • J. Scott Moody, Vice President of Policy at Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action
  • Rhonda Wesolowski, President of NEA-NH.

We'll also hear from:

Since the state received eleven and a half million dollars in federal money for charter schools last year, there has been a flurry of activity, including in Nashua where two charter schools are in the works. Meanwhile, though many former foes now support charter schools, questions remain on such issues as admission policies, accountability, and how teacher unions fit in.  Today we'll look at how charter schools are doing and where they're heading.