On Wednesday, August 31, Reaching Higher NH presented a briefing to the New Hampshire Education Network (NHEN) on proposed rule changes to the Minimum Standards for Public School Approval (Ed 306 Administrative Rules). The webinar, based on a draft document obtained by Reaching Higher, contains critical information about sweeping changes made to the rules, which are foundational to NH’s public schools, defining the requirements for school facilities, instructional resources, class sizes, curriculum, staff qualifications, culture and climate, and nearly every aspect of school operations.
“These are so consequential to our schools, to our communities, that it’s really important that we’re all on the same page as to how these things are changing,” Reaching Higher NH Policy Director Christina Pretorius told the NHEN.
Pretorius explained that the revision process, which was initiated in 2020 by a contract between the NH Department of Education (NHED) and the National Center for Competency-Based Learning, has proceeded thus far without public input, in contrast with other recent rule-making processes. “There has been very little transparency in the process for these massive, massive revisions,” she said.
Reaching Higher’s analysis of the draft document identified five key themes that are cause for concern (note that these themes are not comprehensive of the entire proposal). These include changes to language protecting students from discrimination, the gutting of program elements, the removal of most references to locally developed competencies, the adoption of Personal Learning Plans without guidance and resources, and changes to terminology which could create the conditions for breaking apart the public education system into elements that can be outsourced and commodified.
“Our public schools are really the backbone of our democracy. Our public schools exist so that they can provide each and every child in the state with a high-quality, robust education, and we need to be keeping our students, our communities, and our families at the center of every decision that we make,” Pretorius said. “When we read these rules, that was the lens with which we were reading them. All our concerns stem from that value.”
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