School choice Sam Osheron

Dear Friends:

 
Once again, we need to defend public education and local taxpayers against the so-called “school choice” people!  HB 1492  would allow parents to have their child transferred from his local public school to a school in another district, at the local district’s expense, just by: (a) declaring that it’s not “in the child’s best interest” to stay in the local school and (b) getting the State Board of Education (led by a school choice proponent) to agree.
 
As you’ll see below, Rep Bob Elliott (in Salem) needs to hear from us, urging him to vote against this bill.
 
Thank you for your help.
All best,
Sam Osherson
Coordinator
Monadnock United 2018
What You Can Do:
1.  Please take a moment to understand how this complicated bill could work: 
A student at Goffstown High School breaks up with his girlfriend and doesn’t like bumping into her in the hallways.  His mother decides it would be in her son’s best interest to go to Bow High.  She petitions the Goffstown school board, and since her determination of her son’s best interests is conclusive, the school board can’t argue that she hasn’t met the “best interest” standard (which isn’t defined anyway.)  The school board can, however, offer a different remedy than the one she requests, so it offers to change the boy’s schedule at Goffstown High to make it less likely that he’ll run into the girl.  The mother files an appeal with the State Board of Education, whose chairperson believes the parent always knows best.  The State Board orders Goffstown School District to send the boy to Bow and pay the $15,600 tuition charged by Bow (Goffstown’s cost per pupil is $12,900).  Bow, though full to capacity, cannot refuse to accept the boy. 
2.  Now that you’re fired up, send emails opposing HB 1492 to the Republican members of the House Education Committee listed below and get your friends/neighbors to do the same
• If you’re a constituent of any of them, send your rep an email, identifying yourself as a constituent in the message line.  Encourage friends/contacts in your district to do so as well. Then send other emails as follows. Talking points are below.
• If you’re not a constituent, send emails to as many people on the list as you can!  Be sure to say in your subject line “this is not a form email” & include your full name and town.  Talking points are below.
3.  Send a copy of your email to Mel Myler and Linda Tanner, democrats on the committee, and thank them for resisting this bill. mel.Myler@leg.state.nh.us   linda.tanner@leg.state.nh.us We want the dems to know we’re standing behind them.  
4. Send a Letter to the Editor, using the same talking points below (in your own words please!)
Republican Representatives to contact:
 
Salem:  Bob Elliottbob.elliott@leg.state.nh.us
Acworth, Goshen, Dempster, Langdon, Washington:  James Grenier,  jimgreniersullivan7@gmail.com
Newbury, New London:  Dan Wolfdan.Wolf@leg.state.nh.us
Bedford:   Terry Wolf,   terry.wolf@leg.state.nh.us
Loudon, Canterbury:  Michale Moffett,   michael.moffett@leg.state.nh.us
Milford:  Carolyn Halstead    carolyn.halstead@leg.state.nh.us
Merrimack:  Josh Moore   josh.moore@leg.state.nh.us
Farmington:  Joseph Pitre   joe@joepitre.com
Manchester Ward 9:   Victoria Sullivan   patchessul@comcast.net
Talking Points (please choose among them and use your own words!) :
1.  The bill allows parents to make unilateral decisions that can significantly impact their school district’s budget
     Background:  When a parent tells a local school board that it’s not in his/her child’s best interest to stay in the local school, s/he isn’t required to offer any evidence or meet any standard of proof in support of her statement.  Proponents of the bill have said that the existence of an AP class in another school would be reason enough, as would the desire to be on another school’s sports team or a parent’s desire to have the child attend school near her workplace.  Why not because the child’s best friend is in the other school or because the child thinks her teacher gives too much homework? 
      If the locally elected school board disagrees with the parent, there’s nothing it can do, other than to try to find the least expensive or disruptive remedy authorized under the bill.  And if the parent appeals to the State Board of Education, the State Board can overturn that remedy and order the child’s transfer to another district at the local district’s expense. The State Board’s discretion is completely unfettered; it doesn’t have to make any particular findings before reversing the school district’s decision. The current chair, appointed by Gov. Sununu, is a “school choice” advocate who appears to believe that parents’ decisions about their child’s best interest are not to be questioned, even when public funds are at stake.
2.  The bill would cause administrative chaos and economic hardship to school districts
Background:  Given the extremely loose and undefined standard of “best interest of the child”, there’s no limit to the number of students who could petition to transfer from their local schools to other districts for all sorts of reasons, many of which might seem frivolous to taxpayers. Every petition must be addressed and considered by the school board, and appeals will result in legal fees for the district. Every time a child is transferred out of district, the local district must pay tuition to the receiving district (ranging from $11,000+ to $30,000+ per year), and it also loses  the state adequacy grant attributable to that child ($3,600 or more). Yet very few costs decline when a student leaves. 
3.  Schools should not be forced to accept students from other districts against their will  
Background:  Under the bill, schools are required to accept students from other districts whether they want to or not.  But think about this: if your district is desirable, that reflects your community’s collective decision to invest in public education.  HB 1492 would ask your town to bear the burden of accepting an unlimited number of students from communities that either have chosen not to invest as much in education or don’t have the means to do so (which is an issue for the state to address).  While tuition payments would be made to your district to pay for these transferred students, large numbers of transfers could eventually lead to the need to build new facilities, and in the meantime class sizes would likely increase.  And parents paying low taxes in a neighboring town will get the benefit of the high taxes you pay, without incurring the cost themselves. 
4.  A reasonable procedure already exists for reassigning students to other schools when there’s real need
Background:  Under current law, if the parents demonstrate that remaining in the current school would result in a “manifest educational hardship” for the student (i.e. the school isn’t meeting the student’s needs and this is having a detrimental effect on the student’s academic progress), the student can be transferred to a different school.  Principals, superintendents and parents also often work together informally to ensure that the student’s needs are met, including working together to reassign the student to another school.  These procedures already enable school boards to respond to real problems a student might face, and they are working well.  

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