Tax credit plan is good for students, Concord Monitor OpEd, 2/20/12

posted Feb 20, 2012, 1:22 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Feb 20, 2012, 1:25 PM ]

DNHPE Comment: We think the authors are making the case that New Hampshire's schools are not good, though it is hard to tell.  They says that the voucher bill that intends to siphon students and public money out of public schools into private schools is a good thing...because it is a good thing.  But they really never say anything about it.  Or lay a glove or Salvio and Onsoko.

And Ann Marie Banfield testified before the Senate Education Committee on 2/14/12, advocating for a provision that was already in the bill.

Published on Concord Monitor (
Tax credit plan is good for students
Tax credit plan is good for students
By Ann Marie Banfield and Wendy Warcholik / For the Monitor
February 20, 2012

After reading "Education tax credit won't serve the majority of us" (Paula Salvio and Joe Onosko, Monitor Forum, Feb. 9), it was unclear if these education professors from the University of New Hampshire understand what is occurring in public school classrooms throughout New Hampshire.

First, they argue against giving parents a choice in education because they believe that House Bill 1607 will not serve the majority of students in New Hampshire.

Under Gov. John Lynch, we did not see any proposal to offer school choice to all children. Maybe that should have been his focus.

They also cite the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress Grade 4 results. They indicate that these fourth-graders are among the highest performers in mathematics in New Hampshire. However, they failed to discuss the growing number of students now enrolled in private tutoring.

For instance, in Bedford, the employees at Sylvan Learning Centers confirmed that many Bedford students are now enrolled in private math tutoring due to the fuzzy math program used in our schools. Prior to the adoption of Everyday Math, Sylvan didn't offer tutoring services to our students. Bedford has some of the highest proficiency rates in the state. Is that a direct result of the quality of education students receive in school or from the numerous hours spent at Sylvan?

The authors' argument against school choice is misleading. How many of our graduating students entering college need remedial education? Sadly, New Hampshire does not collect this data like other states do.

Remedial education required by high school graduates is a nationwide crisis. We have community colleges in New Hampshire having to re-educate students who lack the basic skills one would expect after receiving a quality education.

While we do not have the exact data, I would challenge anyone to pick up a phone, call their local community college and ask the percentage of entering students in need of remedial education. The focus should be on those who just graduated from a New Hampshire high school.

If there are public schools in New Hampshire exceeding expectations, then no one has anything to fear. Parents will simply keep their children in public schools. If there are students not being served by their local district, the option to choose another school (a result of HB 1607) will now be available to those parents. School choice has always been available to the rich in this country. It's only been denied to those who cannot afford it.

Dr. William Schmidt of Michigan State University conducted a six-country study looking at how middle-school teachers are prepared while attending college. He referenced Taiwanese and Korean students who do very well on international tests because their teachers are prepared in the field of mathematics.

Their future teachers are expected to take advanced mathematics like calculus while earning their degree in education. He compares that to what middle-school teachers are required to take in U.S. schools of education. He acknowledges that many of our teachers have never taken calculus, highlighting the clear difference in teacher preparation for U.S. teachers compared to those in the top performing countries.

Instead of focusing on legislation that will help students, Salvio and Onosko should instead focus on what they can do to improve the quality of education offered to future teachers at UNH.

(Ann Marie Banfield is education liaison at Cornerstone Policy Research. Wendy Warcholik is the group's executive director.)

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