There are some votes of note coming in the New Hampshire State Senate this week and conservative groups are urging folks to contact their senators in advance. Cornerstone Action is urging, as we do here at Girard at Large, an “OUGHT TO PASS” on H B 603, which declares that a student exempted from taking the statewide assessment by the student’s parent or legal guardian shall not be penalized. The bill also requires a school district to provide an appropriate alternative educational activity for the time period during which the assessment is administered. Cornerstone says codifying a parent’s right to refuse the assessments is of utmost importance given that math content experts have said the math assessments are quote “fatally flawed” and that licensed child psychologists have also warned that these assessments are developmentally inappropriate, especially for younger children.
Also up for a vote is HB 323. Education and parental rights advocates strenuously oppose this bill and are calling on the Senate to vote “INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE” as amended. Critics, which include us, say HB 323:
- Gives the Department of Education a blank check to re-design our statewide assessment program without legislative checks and balances.
- Enables the DoE to establish and control a PACE pilot program of weekly assessments in lieu of one end-of-year assessment. This doesn’t reduce testing as claimed by the D O E.
- The Department received its No Child Left Behind waiver on March 5th, after promising that all public schools would make the transition over to its regionally-implemented PACE program. All assessments are regionally planned and scored under the department’s control.
- The PACE program requires all schools to “voluntarily” adopt Common Core.
- The PACE assessments are based on the same Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced protocols. However, as we heard in our interview with Doris Hohensee and Michelle Levell of NH Families for Education, there is no provision to allow parents to refuse these weekly assessments as they will used to demonstrate that the student does or does not meet various unauthorized state graduation competencies.
We’ve linked to the NH Senate’s Web page so you can contact your senator on these immensely important bills.
Reminder, New Hampshire Education Commissioner Virginia Barry and State Board of Education Chairman Tom Raffio, who stand on the other side of these bills, will appear before the Manchester Board of School Committee in a special meeting that begins at seven tonight. Our live coverage of the event with co host Sid Glassner will begin at six. Be sure to tune in!
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The hits just keep coming out of the Timberlane Regional School District. Oh My HEAD! This time they’re over questions about the district’s special eduction program from School Board member Donna Green of Sandown. Green was unable to attend a meeting at which details of the district’s Special Education Program were presented. She’d actually requested the presentation, but when a conflict arose, the board neither agreed to move the item to another agenda nor allow her to participate by telephone, which is allowed under the Right to Know Law.
Anyway, during the presentation, Special Education Director Beth Rincon invited questions from the board, which Green sent via email after watching a recording of the meeting. In response, she received this email from Board Chair Nancy Steenson:
I must ask you, yet again, to please follow the proper chain of command. Any questions you have for a district employee must go through the School Board Chair. Your other alternative is to file a RTK request. Please do not continue to contact district personnel on your own. It is entirely inappropriate for you to do so as a Board member.
Needless to say, Green wrote back asking where it was written board members weren’t allowed to communicate with district personnel and wondered why Rincon wasn’t told that couldn’t happen under board policy when she made the offer. Steenson’s response was to forward the policy she said governed board member interactions with district personnel and wrote that Superintendent Earl Metzler wants all such communications sent to him through the board’s chair, which Green did, though she challenged Steenson’s interpretation of the the policy, which reads quote
“All official communications, policies, and directives of employee interest and concern will be communicated to employees through the Superintendent, and the Superintendent will employ all such media as are appropriate to keep staff fully informed of the Board’s actions and concerns.”
In reply to Greens’ questions, Metzler responded, and this is priceless, quote:
Mrs. Green – I have been forwarded your special education questions. I will research what records we have regarding your inquiry. We do not typically respond to questions that are subjective in nature or that we do not have actual data to support findings. We will let you know once we have finished our research.
Two other points…first district employees will not be responding to you directly. They understand how the communication chain works and will be working directly through me. Secondly, regarding the courtesy of moving agenda items. It has an impact on presenters and their availability. It is not just about you…although you always think it is. Notifying the chair that you suddenly can’t make it 48 hours before a meeting and want the agenda adjusted shows little respect for the presenters and their families. I suggest you keep that in mind when criticizing the Chair that has a lot more to think of than just you. You get what you give. If respect is what you are after…I suggest giving some. You may find the experience serendipitous.
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
Nope, can’t make this stuff up! We’ve linked to it all so you can read it and watch it first hand.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.