Governor Sununu’s proposal to target full-day kindergarten funding is gaining steam in New Hampshire, reported NHPR. The House Education Committee held a public hearing on SB 191, the Senate bill that was amended to include his plan, on April 18. The Governor himself attended to testify in support of the bill. Senators David Watters and Jeb Bradley and Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas also supported the bill:
“I am very proud to sit here and say that I am the first governor to put forth a viable full-day, real kindergarten for the communities across this state,” Sununu told legislators. “I believe in it very passionately.”
“I fully and strongly support the governor’s plan,” Watters said. “It is a New Hampshire plan, it is a pragmatic approach, and the next step in a long journey since 1999 to provide kindergarten education for the children of New Hampshire.”
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley sat at Watters’ side during the committee hearing. If the bipartisan visual wasn’t enough, Bradley took pains to spell it out, urging the House to view this bill as a compromise.
“So, for both sides of the aisle, for those who would like to see us do more, and those that feel we shouldn’t be doing it at all, this is a reasonable way to proceed,” Bradley said.
Rep. Victoria Sullivan opposes the bill, which she said would erode parental control.
“I know there is going to be at least, probably close to 100 Republicans who will vote against this, because we know the next step is full-day funded kindergarten, mandated, mandated means parents don’t have any choice,” she said.
For Sununu, the lack of universal full-day kindergarten is also a vulnerability as he tries to woo businesses to relocate here.
“Very directly I’ve heard it,” Sununu said. “Time and time again, and without any exaggeration, I heard it when I spend time in Quebec. Families in Quebec are even talking about it.”
Backers of the bill are also arguing it will help blunt the effects of a problem that’s already here and not going away anytime soon: the state’s opioid epidemic. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas noted that his city has seen hundreds of children born to addicted parents.
“And if we don’t have a place where they can get a full-rounded education for the opportunities that are before them, we are going to lose those kids to special needs, and those are going to cost us more dollars,” Gatsas said.
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