NH Education Roundup, Dec. 14, 2020

Reaching Higher Mourns Passing of Rep. Dick Hinch — Reaching Higher NH joins the Legislative community in mourning the loss of House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, who passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday. Rep. Hinch, 71, a Navy veteran from Merrimack, had served in the House since 2008 and cared deeply about New Hampshire. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

Photo: New Hampshire Academy of Science

State Board Approves Its First Learn Everywhere Program — The New Hampshire Academy of Science has been approved by the State Board of Education to offer courses under the new Learn Everywhere program. NHAS, which is located in Lyme, can now offer four science courses to students, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The Learn Everywhere program went into effect in August, in spite of considerable public opposition. NHAS is the first applicant to receive approval to operate a Learn Everywhere program. 

Fiscal Committee Accepts $46 Million Charter School Grant — On Friday, Dec. 11, the Joint Fiscal Committee, led by Chairman Kenneth Weyler (R-Kingston), voted to accept the first portion of a $46 million, five-year federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant. The goal of the grant is to double the number of charter schools in the state, and expand existing charter schools. Currently, there are about 30 approved charter schools, with one seeking approval to open in 2021. 

New Hampshire has received two federal grants to open charter schools: in 2003, a $7.7 million grant, and in 2010, a $10.8 million grant. The latest CSP grant, which was awarded in 2019 and totals $46 million over five years, was larger than that awarded to any other state applicant.

Lawmakers Announce Committee Membership — House Education will be led by Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill), who led the committee in the 2017-2018 session. House Finance, and the Joint Fiscal Committee, will be chaired by Ken Weyler (R-Kingston). Senate Education & Workforce Development will be led by Ruth Ward (R-Stoddard), while Senate Finance will be led by Gary Daniels (R-Amherst). 

House to Meet In-Person — The NH House has announced that their first session on January 6, 2021, will be held in-person at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. UNH hosted the NH House last session; members were socially distanced and many wore masks. 

NH Schools Lack Protections for Transgender Students — The majority of New Hampshire schools don’t have official policies in place for protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students, according to a new report published by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“It is critical that New Hampshire schools provide comprehensive protections for transgender students, which are fundamental to making clear that trans students are worth of a full and social life,” ACLU-NH Director Devon Chaffee told the Concord Monitor last week. 

The report, titled “The Case for Lived Equality in the Classroom,” estimates that half of trans students in New Hampshire face discrimination in school. 

NH to Participate in “Purple Star” Program — NH is set to become the latest state to participate in the Department of Defense’s “Purple Star” program, an initiative to support military families and children. Local schools can be designated as “Purple Star” schools if they meet certain criteria, including dedicated supports for students’ social and emotional well-being and professional development for teachers and staff on special considerations for military families and students. 

NH Afterschool Programs Receive Waiver to Run During School Day — New Hampshire schools may use funds from Title IV 21st Century Community Learning Center programs to support remote instruction any time of day, under a new waiver awarded by The U.S. Department of Education. The program normally may operate only during non-school hours. To take advantage of the waiver, schools must apply to the New Hampshire Department of Education. 


Facing the Political Realities of School Funding
Concord Monitor, Laura Kiernan, Dec. 7, 2020

Supporting Student Wellness Through the Arts
Ed Note, Mary Dell’Erba and Cassandra Quillen, Nov. 24, 2020

Survey: Afterschool Participation Drops to Lowest Rate Since 2009, as Providers Seek Funding for Students During Pandemic
The 74, Linda Jacobson, Dec. 8, 2020

The Empty Gradebook: As Students Struggle With Remote Learning, Teachers Grapple With Failing Grades
Chalkbeat, Kalyn Belsha, Dec. 7, 2020