Saturday, January 11, 2020

NH: No, Again, To Federal Charter Money

A month ago, the Granite State's Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee said, "No, thanks" to an offer of $46 million from the feds to be used in doubling the number of New Hampshire charter schools from 28 to 55. The money was to come from the federal Charter School Program, a grant program that has come under fire due to a recent pair of studies showing massive waste and fraud by recipients of CSP money. The legislature was concerned that doubling the number of charter schools would harm public schools and existing charters.

But that, it turns out, was not the end of it.

This frickin' guy.
Frank Edelblut is currently the grand poohbah of education in NH. He was previously a businessman, venture capitalist, and one-term state representative. He took a swing at the governor's office, but was beaten in the primary by Chris Sununu; he then supported Sununu who, upon becoming governor, appointed Edelblut to the education post based on God-only-knows-what. Edelblut has no education background, pushed vouchers as a representative, and homeschooled all his kids.

But Friday (1/10) Edelblut brought the $46 million back to the table for the committee with what I suppose he thought was a sweetener-- a quote from Democrat Maggie Hassan, former governor and current senator for New Hampshire. Hassan had supported a similar grant in 2016, writing:

An objective of this grant is to use best practices from positive outcomes at our charter schools to inform programs at other public schools, which in turn benefits our entire public education system.

This is, of course, baloney. Note that Edelblut did not follow up with, "And here's a list of the successful academic best practices that have been pioneered by our existing charter schools and transferred successfully to our public schools." He couldn't, because if we've learned one thing after two decades of modern charter schools, it's that charter school operators don't know anything about how to educate students that public schools don't already know.

Republicans accused Dems of sticking it to taxpayers and children, but Democrats pointed out that the grant left too many questions unanswered while circumventing both the legislative and budgeting process. NH charters already have empty seats, and one analysis showed a long-term cost to the state of $57 to $104 million.

It would have been fiscally irresponsible for the Fiscal Committee to move forward with this grant, which would have doubled charter schools outside of the legislative process, jeopardized the financial health of New Hampshire’s current traditional and charter public schools, and made an end run around the state budget that would have committed the state of New Hampshire to millions of dollars in unbudgeted education aid years into the future.

The  Dems also cited the NPE reports showing CSP waste. As for Edelblut, he was sure that the committee just didn't understand the grant the first time around. He also wanted to claim that the money could totally be used by public schools, somehow. Is he now satisfied that the committee understands what they have rejected twice? Well, as he told the Union Leader:

Do I look like someone who gives up that easily? We’ll be back.

So watch for New Hampshire's head of public education to continue trying to undermine and defund public education. Speaking of people who just don't understand.

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