We publish this letter from Cornerstone Education Liaison Ann Marie Banfield to NH DOE Commissioner Virginia Barry and Chief of Staff Heather Gage on claims made during legislative testimony on HB 603.  These are the kinds of questions school boards and superintendents ought to be asking, but aren’t.  ~Publis

Banfield:  Asking questions  local school officials should be asking

Banfield: Asking questions local school officials should be asking

Commissioner Barry and Ms. Gage,

Today at the hearing on HB603, Ms. Gage made a statement about her concern for the loss of federal money if HB603 were to pass.  I believe her concern was over the loss of Title 1 funding?  I’m also unclear as to exactly how HB603 would violate any federal or state law that is currently in place since as two Representatives agreed, it would put into statute something that is already taking place in the schools.

My questions are:

  1. What federal funding would be lost if HB603 were to pass?  Where is the documentation?
  2. How does HB603 violate any current state or federal laws?

I think it might be helpful to visit this web site: http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.htmlwhere they make the argument that schools would not lose funding if the participation rate fell below 95%.

We’ve heard repeated “threats” to the loss of funding so I would suggest that when these threats are made, there is some kind of actual information and documentation that accompanies it.

It would also be helpful if the NH DOE clarified and acknowledged that a parent has a fundamental right to refuse this assessment for their children.  While I understand a district cannot “grant” a “request” for an “opt out”, it is my understanding that they can acknowledge a parent’s directive to refuse participation in the assessment.  Parents who are refusing may be erroneously using the term Opt Out versus refusal. It would help if the NH DOE clarified this for so administrators can then direct parents to use the correct wording.  Or would that somehow violate a law too?

By clarifying this for parents and administrators this would go a long way to clearing up the  confusion that exists.

Best Regards,

Ann Marie Banfield

Education Liaison, Cornerstone Action