New NH law allows parental objection to any course material; educators wary of potential consequences, Nashua Telegraph, 1/22/12

posted Jan 22, 2012, 7:58 AM by Bill Duncan
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Here are quotes from the article in the Nashua Telegraph.  Go to the link for the full article.  Also, below, is attached the sample policy the Telegraph attached to its article.


Published:
Sunday, January 22, 2012
New NH law allows parental objection to any course material; educators wary of potential consequencesBy CAMERON KITTLE Staff Writer

Education officials in New Hampshire have grave concerns about a new state law giving parents the right to object to any course material in their child’s curriculum – so long as they find a reasonable alternative approved by the district and pay for any associated costs.

The law was passed earlier this month after the state Legislature voted to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto. The law went into effect immediately and requires all school districts to create a policy for parental objections and implement the policy as soon as possible.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, called it a “minute change” in language, but the law has stirred a national conversation about how much authority parents should have in deciding what their children are taught. It also has raised the eyebrows of national education officials.

“You can’t have it perfectly customized to what every parent wants; that’s the nature of public schools,” said national education researcher Matthew Chingos, of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “If the state’s goal was to encourage choice and competition amongst their schools, there are probably a lot better ways to do it than a law like this 

Kevin G. Welner, professor and director at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, said the New Hampshire law goes “far beyond” the opt-out policies of any other state.

“The law strikes me as very poorly written and as extraordinarily broad and vague in its scope – swatting at a gnat with a sledgehammer,” Welner wrote in an e-mail.

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“It escalated enough that the parents pulled their kids out of school,” Hoell said. “If that’s the only option left, there’s a problem in our education system.”

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Hoell and other proponents remain firm: The law will give parents more clout in choosing the curriculum, which Hoell argued is not only necessary, but important.

Most parents won’t want to pay more money and take more time to research an alternative education plan for their child, Hoell said, but some will. He called it a form of “micro-private schooling.”

“Maybe they say, ‘Hey, I can’t afford to send my child to an $8,000-$12,000 program, but I care enough about reading that I want you to put a paraprofessional with my child and I’m willing to pay for it,” Hoell said. “Parents have been extremely excited about this, to have some of the say in the curriculum.”

Hoell said he was surprised at all the media attention the bill has received, especially on the national level. He said it could even put more money in school districts’ pockets.

“I would think the NEA would be all for this,” he said. “I find it ironic that the NEA is turning money away.”

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“For me, the most troubling aspect is that parents could essentially select their own curriculum,” Conrad said. “When we’re serving a population of almost 12,000 students, we can’t be in that position.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Kittle on Twitter (@Telegraph_CamK).
© 2010, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Bill Duncan,
Jan 22, 2012, 7:58 AM