In this issue of Reaching Higher NH’s Education News Brief, Reaching Higher previews the upcoming Legislative session, NH’s Teacher of the Year helps feed her community, and COVID relief funds may not fill school budget holes.
Funding bills, privatization on deck for 2021 Legislative session — The budget for the new biennium and bills aimed at privatizing education will likely play a lead role in the 2021 session of the New Hampshire Legislature, which begins on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m. School funding bills, including those that reflect the work of the School Funding Commission will also loom large, says Reaching Higher’s Policy Director, Christina Pretorius. Listen to the latest episode of Reaching Higher’s podcast to learn more.
Teacher of the Year runs community support network — Danielle Boutin, an English Language teacher at Ledge Street Elementary School in Nashua, makes sure her students are ready to learn by first ensuring they have clothes, shoes, food, and other necessities. Last year, she and the rest of the EL team expanded their food pantry into a weekly outdoor farmers’ market to meet the growing needs of their community. Boutin was recently named 2021 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year.
COVID relief for schools may fall short — New Hampshire is set to receive about $154 million in K-12 funding as part of the federal COVID relief package approved by Congress on December 21, according to the Learning Policy Institute. The state must distribute aid based on districts’ Title I, Part A funding, which is how the CARES Act funding of March 2020 was distributed.
Schools around the country will receive about $54 billion, but many educators and experts say that won’t be enough to fill budget deficits created by the pandemic and pay back costs associated with remote learning and protective measures for classrooms. Additionally, decreases in enrollment brought on by the pandemic will affect funding in the coming years.
“We’re going to need way more investment both in the short term, to deal with COVID, and in the long term,” Chip Slaven, of the National School Boards Association, told the New York Times.
The Governor will also receive a chunk of the $1.3 billion Emergency Education Relief Grants to Governors.
NH House announces Education Committee membership — There are several new faces on the House Education Committee this term, including Representatives Deborah Hobson (R-E. Kingston, who formerly served on the Recreation Committee), Louise Andrus (R-Salisbury), Oliver Ford (R-Chester), Erica Layon (R-Derry, and co-founder of the Granite State Home Educators), and Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey and former House Majority Leader).
According to House Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry), committees will meet in a hybrid model — only committee members will be allowed in the LOB, and all testimony will be delivered virtually via Zoom.
“We are going to have all testimony done by Zoom. The only people that will be in the rooms are the committee members, if they choose to. If they choose not to, they can work in by Zoom and maybe some committee staff,” he told WMUR’s Adam Sexton over the weekend.
Teachers, students to get priority COVID testing — As schools reopen after the winter break, COVID testing sites around the state will prioritize testing and produce quicker results for teachers, students, and staff who have COVID symptoms, Gov. Sununu announced on Tuesday, Dec. 22. A testing map can be found here.
Biden’s pick for Ed Secretary takes a student-first approach — Miguel Cardona, President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has a reputation for putting students at the center of his agenda, educators close to him say. Cardona, who currently serves as Connecticut’s Education Commissioner, is also known for being a collaborative leader with a passion for closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged students and has been a proponent of re-opening schools. As he takes the reins from Betsy DeVos, Cardona is likely to face several key challenges, including overseeing the education budget and making decisions about standardized testing amid the ongoing pandemic.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Nashville’s “Navigator” tries to keep students in remote learning from getting lost in the system
The 74, Linda Jacobson, Dec. 20, 2020
Kids are behind in math because of COVID-19. Here’s what research says could help
Education Week, Stephen Sawchuk and Sarah D. Sparks, Dec. 02, 2020
Number of rural students planning to go to college plummets
Hechinger Report, Jon Marcus, Dec. 18, 2020
PROOF POINTS: Number of students enrolled in job-focused degree programs dropping by double digits
Hechinger Report, Jill Barshay, Dec. 21, 2020
Examining Privilege, Systemic Racism, and Becoming Social Justice Educators
New Hampshire Learning Initiative, Jan. 20, 4-6 p.m. (recurring event)