Here is DJ Bettencourt's OpEd version of last week's press conference. (emphasis added)
Published on Concord Monitor (http://www.concordmonitor.com)
Home > Jobs remain the focus in Concord
STATE HOUSE MEMO
Our agenda centers on employers' needs
February 13, 2012
For this Legislature, 2011 was a year of extraordinary achievements. We committed to voters to live within our means and balance our budget without raising taxes and did an uncommon thing for elected officials: We kept our promises.
The Legislature also must focus on issues closely related to jobs, such as creating an educational system that helps us compete globally. We live in a time in which educational attainment and economic success are correlated as never before.
Employers have repeatedly told us that they have jobs available but often lack a qualified workforce to fill them. This must change.
We are lucky that New Hampshire has an abundance of great teachers. But neither they alone nor throwing more taxpayer money at education is going to advance our system from providing an adequate education to an excellent education.
There is not a direct correlation between school performance and the amount government spends on education. Finland, for instance - which has a 93 percent graduation rate and came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math - spends 30 percent less on education than our country. Part of this, of course, is the money wasted on the inefficiencies of administration and bureaucracy.
We are committed to better standards in our schools, which includes empowering parents to become more actively involved in their children's education.
It also includes choice and competition. No parent should ever be forced to send their child to a bad school, and school choice shouldn't be an option only afforded to the rich.
House Bill 1607 would introduce an education tax credit program designed to save the state money and ensure that every student has access to an education based on excellence.
Improving the engineering and technology curriculums in our public schools, and empowering students to prepare for college while still in high school also will aid the work force.
(Rep. D.J. Bettencourt of Salem is the majority leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and represents the town of Salem.)