Accountability Betsy DeVos Charter Schools Early Childhood Education Education Industry Education Reform New Hampshire Privatization

New Hampshire Seeks to Pilot Online Pre-Schooling and Tries Again for Charters

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New Hampshire’s Governor is a Trump-style extremist, Chris Sununu, whose father John advised the first President Bush. Sununu appointed Frank Edelblut as state commissioner of education. The state commissioner home-schooled his children and follows the ideology of Betsy DeVos. He thinks government money should go wherever children go, regardless of who gets the money. That’s called “Learning Everywhere.”

Edelblut is an extremist libertarian.

Now he wants to pilot online leaning for pre-schoolers. This is his response to the growing recognition of the value of early childhood education.

Not surprisingly, advocates for ECE are alarmed that sitting in front of a computer is being substituted for play, where children learn to cooperate with others and make things and use their imagination. One group said:

Kids aren’t meant to sit still in front of a screen. They use their whole bodies to learn, and they want and need to move. Let’s not forget that some of the essential milestones for preschoolers are gross and fine motor skills. They need to practice galloping, throwing a ball, zipping up their jackets to go outside, and holding a pencil. Having good motor control is essential for children’s growth and independence. They cannot develop it by sitting at a computer.

You may recall that DeVos offered New Hampshire $46 million to double the number of charter schools in the state. The Democrats in the legislature have twice turned down her offer. New Hampshire has declining student enrollment, and the Fiscal Oversight Committee said it would be irresponsible to add new charter schools, which would drain students and resources from existing public schools.

Edelblut came back with his own analysis, claiming that adding more charter schools in a time of declining enrollment would save money.

According to the report from Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, doubling the number of charter schools over the next 10 years could translate into at least $60 million in savings for local taxpayers as 4,000 students leave traditional public schools.

Edelblut’s report points to studies that warn declines in enrollments not related to charter schools will be at least 24,000 by 2030 — and could approach double that figure.

“If the visceral reaction is how are we going to manage a declining student enrollment due to public charter schools, the answer is you are going to have to deal with this issue regardless of this grant,” Edelblut said…

This report clearly responds to analysis from Reaching Higher New Hampshire, which supports traditional public schools.

The group has warned the charter school grant could cost the state an additional $57 million to $104 million in its first 10 years.

The same organization found in its analysis of 20 of the state’s charter schools that at least 1,083 of the 4,025 seats available went unfilled in the 2018-2019 school year.

Reaching Higher New Hampshire also maintains state funding alone often doesn’t cover operating costs for these charter schools, which make them unsustainable.

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, said the new report doesn’t change his view that the panel should keep rejecting this grant.

“We need to support our public schools and the successful existing charter schools, work on the over 1,000 open spots in existing charter schools, and protect New Hampshire taxpayers. This fiscally irresponsible grant will cause our already record high property taxes to continue to increase, which is unacceptable,” Feltes said in a statement.

With 25% of the state’s charter school seats empty, it should be hard to make the case that NH needs more charters.

Reaching Higher NH’s research on the charter grant is cited here.

Edelblut welcomes the Trump administration’s plan to turn all education funding into a block grant as he feels it will give him more control over federal money. His own philosophy is that public schools are unnecessary, which is rooted in the practices of the 18th century.

 

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