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Valley News - Draft NH Education Standards Challenged by Public School Advocates

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CONOCRD — A group of educators and business leaders has been working for over a year to revise the rules and definitions of New Hampshire’s public schools.

The changes could affect “nearly every aspect of school operations,” stripping away local control and “creating the conditions for the deconstruction of the public education system into components that can be outsourced and commercialized,” it said. , the policy group Reaching NH announced. An early draft of the proposed amendments online.

“There seems to be a move towards what we call ‘educational unbundling’. Programs will be standardized and distilled down to their most basics, allowing private organizations to step in and provide those services. Separate from public education,” said Christina Pretorius, policy director at Reaching Higher.

School board member Frank Edelblut said the change is part of a regular review.

“Regulations are being considered to ensure that they reflect the continuing evolution of the education offered in public schools and that they have the flexibility to meet the needs of students,” said Edelblut.

Known as the Minimum Standards for Public School Recognition, the rules have not been fully revised since 2008, but individual items have been revised over the years.

Edelblut has championed state school choice policies that accommodate different learning styles and family preferences, including an Education Freedom Account program that allows families to spend on private school tuition and fees. His stance has been a source of contention among advocates of the traditional public school model, who say the account robs state school districts of critical resources.

On September 2, Reaching Higher published an early copy of the proposed revision. The changes are highlighted in red in this 42-page document. A Reaching Higher official declined to say where he got the documents, but the Department of Education said he sent the documents to four New Hampshire Professional Education Associations for feedback. said.

Among the edits proposed in the lengthy document are changes regarding the school atmosphere and code of discipline, locally developed competencies and program elements, and changes in definitions and terminology.

Some of the changes include changing school-specific terms to broader terms, such as changing ‘course’ to ‘learning opportunity’, ‘grade’ to ‘learning level’, and ‘instruction’ to ‘learning’. includes changing to This can open up more interpretations. The draft changes the phrase “acquisition of competencies” required for students to graduate to “recognition of competencies.” According to the draft, students are only required to demonstrate “proficiency” in competencies, not “proficiency”.

Other changes found in early drafts include the addition of a section on providing healthy meals in schools, the removal of the requirement to establish a fair and equitable code of discipline, and the recognition of school districts as “private learning.” Plans include requirements for formulating policies. ”

“We read these through the lens of ‘how does this affect students,'” Pretorius said. “How will this affect our families? How will this affect their communities? When it comes to equity, student protection and equitable learning opportunities, these are the It’s something we really care about: public education is for all children.”

At the State Board of Education meeting on September 8, Commissioner Edelblut confirmed that this was a draft and told board members that this was still work in progress and should not be considered a final draft. emphasized that

In a statement last week, Edelblatt said, “It is unfortunate that so few individuals are preempting the process and misinforming the excellent work of dedicated educators.

In November 2020, the Department of Education contracted the National Center for Competency-Based Learning, a Durham-based non-profit organization, and its founder, Fred Bramante, to lead the revision process. Bramante is the former chairman of the New Hampshire Board of Education and a former Republican candidate for governor.

The $50,000 contract was originally scheduled to expire in June 2021, but the Department of Education was granted an extension through June 2022 and then a second extension through June 2023 to complete the work. It took longer than expected to do. In a letter to Governor Chris Sununu dated June 6, Edelblatt detailed the delay.

“This project took significantly longer than we had originally anticipated. This was due, in part, to the extensive stakeholder involvement required by state regulations over 70 pages long. This is due to the time-consuming process of developing and promoting a task force to provide revised revisions,” Edelbrute wrote. “The stakeholder engagement process is expected to continue through summer-fall 2022, requiring an extension of the contract at no cost.”

The agreement calls for the Bramante nonprofits to form a task force to revise the regulations to include updated language that “accurately represents learning in the 21st century.” The advisory group has been meeting regularly since early 2021, according to the Ministry of Education.

Reaching Higher also expressed concern that the group has so far undertaken drafting without broad public input. Earlier this month, Reaching Higher contrasted current processes with those that led to the creation of the Holocaust and Genocide Education Regulations 2020-2022.

Pretorius said Reaching Higher published the draft and its accompanying analysis in order to make as many people aware of and involved in the process as possible.

“This is a potential impact and we need to keep that in mind and keep our focus on students and families and our community as we start talking about it.” Pretorius said.

According to a June 23 letter from the 306 Task Force to education leaders, members include Bramante, Nathaniel Green, Jeffrey Beard, Barrett Christina, Carolyn Eastman, David Ryan, Stephen Kosakoski, and Bryan. • Stack, Val Zanchuk, Mary Ford, Jackie Gillett, Nathan Harris and Robert McLaughlin.

Once the draft is complete, the department publishes it, presents the rule to state boards of education, goes through a rule-making process that includes an opportunity for public hearings and public comment, and finally passes it to the legislature for adoption.