Failed education system needs many 'brave hearts', JR Hoell OpEd, 2/13/12

posted Feb 13, 2012, 11:06 AM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Feb 15, 2012, 4:50 AM ]

DNHPE Comment:  So here we have it, yet again - the message we've been getting consistently from our legislative majority.  Rep. JR Hoell says in his Feb 13 Concord Monitor My Turn,  "Our public schools have failed.  We need to demolish them and move on to a system with no government involvement."   The language cloaked ever so slightly for political purposes, but the message is clear.  

He goes on the suggest that the teachers unions, who like government bureaucracy, are the sole opposition to dismantling the public education.  Actually, as the latest Granite State Poll shows, 68% of public school parents express satisfaction with their schools.  And all voters - left, right and center - support our public schools by a 2-1 margin, 56% to 27%.  Parents and all voters also reject, by 2-1 margins, the proposals of Rep. Hoell and his legislative colleagues to use state money to fund their vision of a privatized school system.

They know that our public schools, especially New Hampshire's high performing system,  are a precious asset and not a candidate for dismantling. 

So who is it that Rep. Hoell and his colleagues actually represent?  It's apparently not his constituents. 

Notice the similarities the Rep. Will Smith's offering a few days ago, here.

Here's what others thought:

Nonsense for Hoell, Letter to Concord Monitor, 2/15/12
Tax Credit Plan will Hurt Public Schools, Letter to Concord Monitor, 2/15/12

Concord Monitor
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Home > Failed education system needs many 'brave hearts'


Failed education system needs many 'brave hearts'

Bureaucratic mess needs to be rebuilt
February 13, 2012

While in graduate school, I was a lead volunteer for the local Habitat for Humanity. During those weekends I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some disadvantaged families who were willing to invest time, talent and energy to make a better life for themselves. The program was a clear success.

Families that were interested in moving out of the slums and purchasing homes could put "money" toward the down payment in the form of sweat equity. These families showed up every weekend, cutting wood, framing walls, hanging sheetrock and painting trim for other families' homes. They weren't working on their own homes, but they were investing in the neighborhood around them. After an "investment" of several hundred man-hours, the families were then eligible to participate in the program to purchase one of the homes with a no-interest loan.

Unfortunately, the only buildings that Habitat had access to were those with substantial damage that were being sold for back taxes. The first step in renovation was to remove the rotten portions of the building so that any future work would not be compromised by the moldy and fire-damaged sections remaining within the structure. This demolition was key if we wanted to have a solid framework upon which to construct the new homes.

So it is with our education system. It has failed and needs to be rebuilt. Local school boards are bound by policy decisions made in Concord and Washington, D.C., so teachers no longer control what is taught in their own classrooms. Edicts from the U.S. Department of Education permeate every area of the school system, yet we wonder why academic achievement continues to fall further and further behind.

In 2011, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated: "The mediocre performance of America's students is a problem we cannot afford to accept and yet cannot afford to ignore" after discussing the international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's latest 2009 Program for International Student Assessment survey of education performance, which placed the United States at 25th in math and 14th in reading among other industrialized nations.

Duncan concluded that: "The hard truth is that other high-performing nations have passed us by during the last two decades. . . . In a highly competitive knowledge economy, maintaining the educational status quo means America's students are effectively losing ground."

The National Education Association posted on its website that: "No Child Left Behind is the current incarnation of President Lyndon Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, whose purpose was to raise achievement and close achievement gaps" and then goes on later to say, "But educators know that NCLB as currently written can't get us there."

In 2009 the NEA wrote: "For seven years, educators have been living and working with the unintended and harmful consequences of No Child Left Behind, which judges schools and children based solely on standardized test scores at the expense of preparing them with 21st-century skills." The NEA understands that No Child Left Behind has been undermining the academic potential of children since 2002.

Yet teachers unions mock every effort at true reform by legislators who are willing to take a hard look at the education system as a whole and reconsider whether New Hampshire should participate in No Child Left Behind. Are they on the side of teaching children or on the side of the failed education bureaucracy?

The House Education Committee realizes that all the pieces for an effective school system exist. We have teachers who want to invest in the lives of the children, students who want to learn, parents who want to get involved. Yet the current structure fails to take advantage of all this in an effective manner. It is time to take a hard look at the underpinnings of our schools and develop a system that rewards progress, not failure; academic achievement over attendance; successful teachers over endless bureaucratic policies.

In the 1200s, William Wallace (featured as the protagonist in the movie Braveheart) fought and died for freedom for Scotland. More recently, Thomas Jefferson stated: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." There is great cost to making revolutionary change, but in the end many prosper for the investment and effort of those few. It will take bold leadership and countless brave hearts to make the changes necessary to restore our broken system.

(Republican Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton is a member of the House Education Committee.)