HB 542, parents intervening in curriculum, debated in NHPR, The Exchange 1/17/12

posted Jan 18, 2012, 7:49 AM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Jan 28, 2012, 9:48 AM ]

This is worth listening to all the way through.  You get a real sense of the tone and attitude of the advocates for this kind of intervention in the public school curriculum.

You will hear Rep. Hoell alludes again to the story of the Bedford, NH family who objected to the use of "Nickel and Dimed," a book by Barbara Ehrenreich about how hard it is to live on minimum wage. Following the established pattern in these parents' rights bills, the real story is not like my myth retold by advocates.  Here it is.

4:50 Rep. JR Hoell (R, Dunbarton), explaining how the law would work, says (5:55), 

"...the child goes into a study hall and the parent pays for an outside learning center.  This is happening in Bedford....so I think there's a number of options.  Why does it have to be that the additional material is taught by the school system?  Maybe they can't come up with an agreement about the material but the parent says, "Then I'll go to a private school or I'll go to a private tutor.  Will that work?  And that may meet all the requirements."

9:40, Rhonda Wesolowski, President of NEA-NH: 
"Any parent, regardless of qualifications, can veto any lesson plan on any grounds.  That has wide open ramification for New Hampshire education."

10:00, J. Scott Moody, Vice President of Policy at Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action:  
"Fundamentally, it boils down to the question of parental rights....at the end of the day, the responsibility to educate a child is his or her parents'....they spend more time with their children, far more time than the eight hours a day they spend in the classroom.... and based on that knowledge...they can determine whether or not they need to look for alternatives.

"And, frankly, I think this is good for the school system...Competition is good in the private sector.  It's going to be good in the education sector as well.  

"In New Hampshire, we're seeing a decline in school age children.....If that parent feels they need to pull their child out of the public school system and put them into a private school, that's going to hurt the public school system as a whole.  This will give parents other options and potentially keep that child in the school system."

27:30, Mark Joyce, Executive Director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.
Advocates for the public's control over public education:

(30:20) "...really at the core of this issue is a fundamental question about whether public education is an overall public good that should be controlled by all citizens - or is it a private right of every parent.  Now, historically, for well over 100 years in our country, one of our greatest assets has been the public's control over public education.

Whether a citizen has a child or not, or ever will, they have a good interest in whether we have an educated citizenry.  And that, I think, is what's at the core here.

(31:15) Laura Knoy: Are you saying this threatens a well educated citizenry?

"I think it certainly fractures the belief that all children deserve a quality education that is publicly controlled. 

It's forever been an issue that a parent has a right to alter that by providing private education...However, now we're talking about changing the nature of public education based on the interests of one parent.