Public Schools

Casey McDermott / NHPR

All this week, NHPR is looking at how New Hampshire schools are rethinking the role they play in the lives of their students and their communities.  More students are arriving preoccupied with hunger, homelessness, and other family crises.  Teachers are on the front lines, trying to fill basic needs before the learning begins. Schools are cobbling together their own system of social services in the face of the state’s heroin crisis, the aftermath of the recession, and struggling local economies.  


Smart Sign / Flickr/CC

The Obama administration's recent directive addressing the use of school bathrooms and other facilities by transgender students heightened a debate playing out in several states over so-called bathroom bills and transgender rights.  We'll look at how New Hampshire schools and communities are responding.


Dover School District

On Friday, all three branches of New Hampshire’s government will meet in a courtroom, in the latest dispute over how the state pays for public schools.

The showdown is prompted by a lawsuit brought by the city of Dover. It challenges a spending cap the Legislature has placed on how much money public schools can get from the state each year.

Scroll down for a chart and map tallying the impact of this policy over the past few years.

NHPR’s Jason Moon recently talked with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley to discuss the case and its place in a long history of education funding battles.

Juliana Robidoux via ManchesterInkLink.com

Next month, a primary election in Manchester will narrow an unusually crowded field of candidates seeking to unseat three-term mayor Ted Gatsas. The race has been roiled by Gatsas’s recent decision to nix a contract with the city’s teachers union. The move has enraged the educators, who have been working without a contract — and without raises — for the past two years, and it’s given new ammunition to the mayor’s rivals.

Melissa Moreno / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire has been engaged in a perennial argument about the state’s role in paying for schools. In 2011, a compromise put that debate on hold. But dissatisfaction has been brewing and now a bipartisan bill would tweak the formula, igniting speculation about who would win and who would lose under a new arrangement.

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danagoldstein.com

A new book explores the tumultuous history of public education: from racial integration, to unions and teacher-tenure, to standardized tests and charter schools. We’re sitting down with writer Dana Goldstein to discuss why the profession has long been so fraught, and how it’s affected the schooling of our kids. 

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alamosbasement / Flickr/CC

The original legislation to allow charters schools in New Hampshire passed way back in 1995, but it would take another ten years before the first of these publically funded independent learning facilities was opened.  Since then charter school have had their ups and downs in the state: many had a hard time getting off the ground, a few had to close their doors, some have been criticized for not being alternative enough from their public school counterparts. There was even a moratorium on new facilities for two years.

School Security: Finding The Right Balance

Apr 16, 2014
SPSOA UNION / Flickr/CC

A recent stabbing incident, which injured more than twenty-students at a Pennsylvania school, has once again reminded us that violence can occur in any district and in any form.  And schools in New Hampshire are taking note, continually adjusting their safety plans.  We’re finding out how this discussion continues to evolve.

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EasternMennoniteUniversity / Flickr Creative Commons

We finish a two-part series on the teaching profession, with a look at how we prepare our teachers.  After criticism claiming credentialing standards in the U.S. are lax, many states, including New Hampshire, are trying to raise the bar and turn out more qualified teachers. Some say more in-classroom experience is key. But there are challenges to such changes, including the expense.  

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rbcullen / Flickr Creative Commons

Today, defining a good teacher has become far more complex than we might remember from our own schooldays. Many states now rely on student test scores as a major way to assess teacher quality, while others also use classroom observations, student evaluations, and lesson plan reviews. Backers of tougher assessments argue that since U.S. students as a whole are lagging behind other industrialized nations, something needs to be done.  But others worry that these data-driven judgments diminish what’s really important:  teachers using their skills and creativity to engage with students .

New Hampshire is among some forty states to adopt this more rigorous set of standards for math and language arts in public schools. But just as this bi-partisan effort becomes reality, the system is facing some backlash from both the right and left. We’ll find out more about Common Core and the challenges it faces getting off the ground.

Guests:

Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

Concerned parents, teachers, and children held a rally in Manchester Saturday to protest the state of the Manchester school district. At least 200 people showed up to the rally at Veterans Memorial Park.

The event was organized by Citizens for Manchester Schools, a group formed in response to a budget shortfall that prompted the school district to lay off close to 150 teachers.

One of the group’s chief concerns is the burgeoning average class size in Manchester, with some classes reaching over 40 students.

Sam Evans-Brown

For most New Hampshire students Tuesday or Wednesday is the first day of school. For some New Hampshire schools “day-one” really is day-one.

For those kids headed starting classes tomorrow, like Andrew Pollak, emotions are mixed.

"It’s gonna be scary but fun," says Pollock, "because who knows what’s gonna happen tomorrow, it could be anything!"

Not long after the start of the school year, Monique Sanders, a teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Manchester, Conn., realized many of her students were going to bed hungry.

"It was very bad. I had parents calling me several times a week, asking did I know of any other way that they could get food because they had already gone to a food pantry," Sanders says. "The food pantry only allows you to go twice per month, so if you are running low on your food stamps or you didn't get what you needed and you're not able to feed your family, that's very stressful."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in on the use of so-called pink slime in beef served in the government's free and reduced-price school lunch program.

Under the federal health care law, money is going out around the country to help school campuses boost health services for their students.

At Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles students often visit a modest trailer at the back of the sprawling campus. It's in a neighborhood near downtown L.A. where houses are missing windows and have peeling paint.

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.