If you haven’t seen it yet, the New Hampshire Department of Education has released a survey to collect information about the best way to safely reopen our schools.
Spoiler alert: If you decide to take the survey, be prepared to spend 20 minutes of your day helping the Commissioner of Education collect data to support his political belief that public education as we know it is fundamentally flawed and that private, charter and virtual schools are the answer to all our problems.
“The commissioner’s survey is set up to deliver a pre-determined result that supports his agenda of promoting private and charter schools,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “It focuses on the experience of remote learning and fails to address the inequalities in the system that have finally come into focus during the crisis, and what steps should be taken to ensure students and staff are safe when schools re-open.”
It was clear from the start that the Commissioner had little interest in promoting the safe reopening of public schools. The Task Force he created to design the survey questions was comprised of 30% charter school representatives when less than 2% of NH students attend a charter school.
“We’ve been hearing from parents, community members and educators across the state that this survey isn’t designed to provide answers on how to safely reopen schools and is biased towards driving families to say they support charter and private schools,” said Tuttle. “Once we took the survey, we had to agree.”
None of this is surprising given the previous attempts made by Edelblut to promote charter and private schools at the expense of public neighborhood schools. His efforts to force school districts to accept graduation credits from unlicensed, non-certified sources, and his attempt to cash a $46 million check from Betsy DeVos to double the number of charter schools in the state and take funds away from neighborhood schools to pay for their ongoing operations were both thwarted. Its no secret Commissioner Edelblut is not a fan of public neighborhood schools.
Something important happens in our schools that remote learning can never replace. While remote learning is a necessary response to a national emergency, it can never replace our public neighborhood schools, does not provide equal opportunities for an adequate education, and is unsustainable for the majority of New Hampshire’s parents. Any plan that relies on remote learning as an answer to re-starting our schools is not a solution.
Educators, parents, and caregivers are all rightly concerned about when and how to safely open our schools. It’s clear that politicians should not decide when it’s safe to return to schools – health experts should.
Over the next few weeks, NEA-NH will be posting questions and concerns like these from New Hampshire educators and parents about the priority the Commissioner should be addressing: the safe reopening of our schools.