New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu just gave Prenda a whopping $6 million cut of the granite state's pandemic school relief. It's a relatively small slice (the full pile of money is $156 million), but it's notably a larger per-pupil amount than the state gives in normal "adequate aid." So who is Prenda, and what is the money for, exactly?
Prenda is a company riding the new microschools wave. Microschools are the next evolutionary strep in homeschooling. Says the Micro Schools Network website, "Imagine the old one-room schoolhouse. Now bring it into the modern era." Or imagine you're homeschooling, and a couple of neighbors ask if you'd take on their children as well. Or to look at it another way, imagine back to the beginning of a public system, only this time, your system would only include the students and families you wanted to include.
Microschools like to emphasize their modern awesomeness. From the Micro Schools Network site: While no two micro schools are identical, most share several common traits: a small student population, an innovative curriculum, place-based and experiential learning, the use of cutting-edge technology, and an emphasis on mastering or understanding material. The education that micro schools provide is highly personalized."
The microschools movement seems marked by a lot of educational amateur columbussing--the breathless announcement of "discoveries" plenty of people already knew. Again, from the network's website:Teachers typically guide students’ curiosity rather than lecture at them. Instead of utilizing a fixed curriculum, they integrate subjects that students are passionate about into daily lesson plans and account for each student’s unique strengths, learning style, and existing knowledge.
Chris Sununu's decision to use federal funds to advance his anti-public school agenda and help a shady for-profit organization, rather than providing public schools the resources they need to prepare for the next phase of the pandemic, could have serious consequences for our teachers and students.