The House Education Committee recommended passing SB 8, the “Croydon bill,” as amended, by a vote of 13-6. “This is Frank’s [Commissioner Edelblut] bill,” House Education Chairman Rick Ladd told Education Department staff members and Republican state Sen. Ruth Ward, while the Committee was in recess.
According to the Concord Monitor, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who had previously sponsored similar legislation when he was a Republican state representative, worked with Ladd on the bill’s amendment over the weekend. Read full amendment here.
The original version of SB 8 would have allowed districts to send students to private schools if the district didn’t offer that grade. The Attorney General’s office, along with Rep. Neal Kurk, the House Finance Chairman, had concerns over the bill and its sister, HB 557.
The amendment aimed to remedy some of those concerns:
As amended, SB 8 excludes religious schools, a key concern raised by the attorney general’s office. It also requires private schools that accept publicly funded tuition students to administer annual standardized tests in math, English and science to those students. The aggregate scores would be reported to the commissioner of education and the local school board.
If tuitioned students at private schools score in the 40th percentile or below, the commissioner can order a review of the school to see if it’s delivering an adequate education, according to the bill.
Representative Ladd supported the measure:
“We have public schools which are failing. We have some public schools that are excellent. And we have a majority that are just doing a great job. But we have some, we know, that are not providing what I would call the ‘adequate education,’ we’d like them all to see,” he said. “I would hope that my child would not be mandated to attend a failing school.”
But, concerns still remain–especially over protections for students with disabilities:
“There’s nothing in here that instills that private institutions are responsible for being approved along IDEA standards,” said North Hampton Rep. Tamara Le, referring to a federal disability rights law.
Ladd countered that school boards could build protections for students with disabilities into their contracts with private schools, adding that private schools were a necessary option for certain communities.