By MICHAEL A. BALBONI
When there’s something wrong with your home heating system, you either fix it or suffer the consequences. It amazes me that some would prefer our children suffer rather than fix our public education system.
Bill Duncan, in his Nov. 13 guest commentary (“Public education under attack in NH”), doesn’t appreciate the changes being made to our public education system by the Republican majority in the New Hampshire Legislature. Mr. Duncan believes no changes are needed, and he wrote: “New Hampshire’s public school system works well today.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a standardized national assessment tool used to determine if our public schoolchildren are proficient in reading and math, the two fundamental building blocks to all future learning.
The latest 2011 results clearly show there is a major problem with our New Hampshire public school system. For example, 43 percent of fourth-graders cannot do math at grade level. And the results are worse for eighth-graders, where 56 percent cannot do math at grade level.
If the math numbers aren’t bad enough, let’s look at the reading results. Fifty-seven percent of fourth-graders cannot read at grade level, and 60 percent of eighth-graders cannot read at grade level.
Mr. Duncan, in light of these dismal results, why do you want to maintain the status quo and let our children continue to fall behind the rest of the world?
The Republican Legislature clearly recognizes this problem, cares about the future of our children, and is making positive changes:
Republicans committed record amounts of state funds to local school districts to ensure every child has a highly qualified teacher along with the needed school supplies in each classroom.
To help those children who are having difficulty learning to read, Republicans this year changed the state’s public education funding plan to include an additional $675 for each third-grade student who is not yet reading at the third-grade level.
Republicans are committed to reducing state regulations on local school districts so local parents, teachers and support staff can determine how best to educate their children.
The Republican Legislature is encouraging parental involvement and choice in education by supporting additional public charter schools and reducing regulations on home schoolers.
And to help those parents who choose an alternative to the traditional public school, the Republican Legislature is looking into ways of providing financial aid (such as scholarships), particularly to middle- and lower-class families who currently cannot afford a better educational alternative for their child.
So, Mr. Duncan, you may not like Republicans who are providing local districts, parents and children with opportunities for educational hope and change, but we must do so if we want a better future for our children.
Rep. Michael A. Balboni, of Nashua, is chairman of the New Hampshire House Education Committee.