Making Democracy Work

Education study

The state board proposed at Convention on June 3, 2017, that the League undertake a study of education issues in NH. The membership in attendance approved the concept of the study. Click here for the pdf of the study scope and introduction as determined by the steering committee at their first meeting on July 18, 2017.

Phase One consensus was held at four locations around the state in Dec 2017 and early Jan 2018.

Phase two is underway.

study meetings

Jan. 8, 2019 in New London, 10 am (place tba), the study subcommittee on Early Childhood Education will meet. Interested members invited. Contact for details of location.

Funding Education in NH

Legislative committee to study Education Funding and Adequacy presented their report on Nov. 1, 2018 Click here for the pdf.

Questions for candidates re school funding. An article by John Tobin Esq. suggests aspects of school funding plans that voters may want to ask NH House and Senate and Governor candidates about before the Nov. 6 election. Click here to read the article.

Andy Volinsky and John Tobin's "School Funding 101" forums are a great opportunity to understand New Hampshire school funding and discuss with with fellow citizens and two of the most knowledgeable and clear education funding experts in the State.

Highly successful forums in Concord, Rochester, Pittsfield, Derry, Newton, Berlin, Keene, Nashua, and Peterborough have been completed with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered. Upcoming events can be found at this website:

Next public forum is 6 pm on Thursday, January 17, 2019 in the Belmont High School auditorium, 255 Seavey Road in Belmont.

Aug. 1, 2018 Funding under Medicaid for students in need of services seems to lag behind in NH. New federal guidelines have not been implemented that would increase funding in NH. See the Concord Monitor story.

July 27, 2018 Advancing NH Public Education released this data on how NH funds public education, comparing the situation in 1998 (when the "Claremont" court decision was not yet issued) with today. Overall comment; the disparities between towns re education spending and taxation have not changed, but all costs have gone up. Read more.

July 20, 2018 Advancing NH Public Education released this data on how NH funds public education, compared with other states. <>

July 2, 2018 State's share of public education funding has been an issue for years. Governor Sununu suggests he would support a constitutional amendment putting funding decisions in the hands of the NH Legislature, independent of the court system. (Reminder that it was the NH Supreme Court that determined the state must support local schools, in the landmark Claremont cases 20 years ago.) Read the article here.

Dr. Mark Joyce gave the following presentation to the joint study committee on education funding on 10/1/17 and was kind enough to share it with League. Includes background on the Claremont court cases and timeline of NH's commitment to funding public education. Fact Sheet Funding 10/1/17

In addition to the Claremont court decisions of 1993 and 1997, a NH Supreme Court decision in 2016 affecting Dover and a number of other rapidly growing school districts affirmed the state's responsibility to fund education. This article explains the Dover decision.

Regarding the NH legislature's funding of public education: Where the Money Comes From and Where the Money Goes

For a lengthy explanation with sources (105 pp) of the Claremont school funding court cases, this is an excellent resource. "Claremont I and II - Were They Rightly Decided, and Where Have They Left Us?" Authors are John M. Lewis, Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court from 2001-2013; Chair of New Hampshire's State Board of Education from 1997 to 2001, and Stephen E. Borofsky, Managing Director of the law firm of Borofsky, Amodeo-Vickery & Bandazian P.A. (Unfortunately the file is too large for this server; email the LWVNH president via the contacts page and we can send it to you as a pdf attachment.)

For a detailed background of education in NH, some members may wish to read this 17 pp document from the the NH Center fore Public Policy Studies. Lessons from New Hampshire: What We Can Learn from the History of the State's Role in School Finance -- 1642 - 1998 Author: Douglas E. Hall, Executive Director of New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

CACR7, a proposed constitutional amendment, was retained by the House committee in Feb. 2017. (That means it will not be on the Nov. 2018 ballot.) The amendment if approved by voters at some other time would allow the NH Legislature to determine a definition of school adequacy and funding. The text of the CACR is here The House voted "Inexpedient to Legislate" on Jan. 3, 2018, so this will not appear on the November 2018 ballot.

Public Kindergarten NH guidelines

With a brand new batch of kindergartners going to school this week, the NH Dept. of Education has created a new page with curriculum guidelines, based on a bill passed earlier in 2018 specifically calling for "play-based" curriculum. Visit the "Kindergarten Toolkit" web page to learn more:

posted by LWVNH 9/1/18

Education Conference May 19, 2018

Huge thank you to the presenters and the attendees at our League conference on education.

The morning focus was on the importance of pre-Kindergarten education, with several expert speakers (see below). In the afternoon we learned about charter schools in NH.

An executive summary of the presentations can be read here.

Speakers were: Kimberly Nesbitt, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at UNH

Jackie Cowell, Director, Early Learning New Hampshire

Christina D'Allesandro, NH State Director of MomsRising

Kate Rogers, Early Childhood Special Education Director, State of Vermont Agency of Education

Rebecca Woitkowski, Early Childhood Policy Coordinator, New Futures/Kids Count, and Lindsay Hanson, Government Relations Manager, Save the Children Action Network-NH

Matt Southerton, President, New Hampshire Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Matora Fiorey Ph.D, Co-Founder and Director of Surry Village Charter School near Keene

School Voucher Bill updated 9/21/18

On Wed Oct. 17, 2018, at 1 pm in LOB 209, the House Finance Committee will hold a work session on SB193, which was retained for further study. Our post below that the bill was effectively killed by referral to interim study has been proven inaccurate, but we don't know what the committee will discuss on Oct. 17.

May 10, 2018 SB193, the school "voucher" bill that was hastily tacked on to another Senate bill after the House voted it to Interim Study last week didn't get very far. The House voted 180-163 on May 10 to "non- concur" with the Senate's scheme and the bill is now dead...but is likely to come back in some form next session in a new bill. (Note: referring a bill to Interim Study in the second year of a session is a way to kill a bill. Highly unlikely it will actually be "studied".)

May 4, 2018 Hold the presses. SB 193 is not dead yet. It was added as an amendment to another bill by the Senate on 5/3/18, will come back to House...more details as we flesh them out. The bill is still a battleground!

May 2, 2018 Today the House voted SB193 to Interim Study by a vote of 170-159. A study committee could work on the bill in the late summer and fall, propose new legislation for 2019. Read a newspaper account here:

April 25, 2018 The House Finance Committee voted 14-12 to recommend Interim Study on SB193. The vote went mostly along party lines, with 3 Republicans joining the Democrats in opposing passage of this bill. While they didn't go so far as to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate because the motion brought forward was for Interim Study, the clear majority view is that the bill is not ready to become law. Reminder that this bill is carried over from 2017, was worked on extensively last fall in House Education Committee, worked on for 2 months in House Finance. A bill that needs that much work and still doesn't get a consensus is probably not a good bill--that is the view of the League of Women Voters, who have sat in on almost all the work sessions.

For a clear summary of the reasons that the Finance Committee does not like this bill, read this post with reference to a Portsmouth Herald editorial.

SB193 will go to the full House for a vote on May 2 or 3. We urge "YES" on "Interim Study" as a way to keep this bill from passing.

A radio broadcast on 4/23 with Gov. Sununu indicates his support at the same time that he presents some inaccurate background. You can hear the broadcast at this link.

At the House Finance-Division II work session on SB193 on Tuesday, April 17, 1:00 pm the division voted 6-2 (or 7-1; some confusion) to refer this much amended bill to Interim Study. The version they will submit to the full House Finance Committee on April 25 at 10 am, LOB 210-211 is amended version 2018-1289h. The vote was held to accept the amendment, then the vote on Ought to Pass as Amended was defeated 5-3, then the vote for Interim Study was done almost without discussion at 1 pm on April 17, as a silent audience including two League members listened intently. League would have preferred this bill be recommended Inexpedient to Legislate.

Links to the amended text as it will go to the full House Finance Committee on April 25 at 10 am, LOB 210-211 can be found via a link in this article.

See our Hot Legislation page for more NH House and Senate committee meetings on education bills as they come up.

Early Childhood Education Fact Sheets

Public is invited to a showing of "Resilience" on Sat., Nov. 10 10 am at Tracy Library in New London. Click here for the poster and more detials.

The steering committee will post here fact sheets for members to use during the study process. Each fact sheet will be dated and the name or initials of the preparer will be included should questions arise or correction be needed. Resources will be given as links within the pdf. Simply click on the title to read the pdf.

Kearsarge/Sunapee area study committee did this research as a kick-off to phase 2 of the study. Early Childhood Education 11-13-17

On the NH Dept. of Education is a multi-page pdf about early childhood education titled NH Early Learning Standards. This is a 2015 revision of the original 2005 printed version, a project of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children, Youth and Families, Child Development Bureau and the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Vermont offers voluntary pre-K programs free to families. Read the details here.

Kimberley Nesbitt PhD, one of the presenters at the May 19 conference, recommends this report: The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects Link posted 4/30/18. A 16pp pdf summary of this study is here.

Bartlett NH votes for public pre-K program (March 2018). Click here for details. Posted June 11, 2018.

Charter Schools Fact Sheets

Note that charters in NH are public schools, with funding from the state.

Report on charter school facilities in NH. In spring 2017, the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC), the Colorado League of Charter Schools (the League), the New Hampshire Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NHAPCS) and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (the Alliance) collaborated to collect data and information about charter school facilities and facilities expenditures in the state of New Hampshire. Click on this link to read the report. Posted 5/18/18

The Brookings Institute studied funding of charter schools and their impact on local school districts. Read the report at this link: Not sure how parallel the Durham NC experience is with NH, but it worth considering the premise. Posted 5/23/18

How do charter schools operate in NH? Posted 2/9/18

VLACS, the online charter school (often used by students in regular schools to take a course or two they can't get in their own schools. Posted 2/4/18

List of statistics about charter schools in NH. Posted 2/4/18

"Report from the Commission to Study Issues Relating to Students Receiving Special Education Services While Attending a Chartered Public School" 2016. This 200 pp document can be accessed as a pdf on the general court's website.

History of Education Fact Sheets

Introduction, scope & timeline of the League's study 7/18/17 Fact Sheet

What is the history of public education? This is the one-page Fact Sheet 9/21/17, of the longer article below.

Why Do We Have Public Education? (federal and NH perspectives) This document is 4 pp long and includes a page of endnotes. 9/18/17 Fact Sheet.

Roles and Responsibilities 8/3/17 Fact Sheet explains the various levels of education oversight (federal, state, local including boards and government agencies).

For a detailed background of education in NH, some members may wish to read this 17 pp document from the the NH Center fore Public Policy Studies. Lessons from New Hampshire: What We Can Learn from the History of the State's Role in School Finance -- 1642 - 1998 Author: Douglas E. Hall, Executive Director of New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

From the School Superintendents Assn, a national organization, comes this Resolution in Support of Public Education.

Higher Education Fact Sheets

Study re college students & poverty. Story based on a Temple University study. May 14, 2018.

"65 by 25" is a bold plan to improve the workforce readiness of NH's students. Read the flyer here.

NH's public college/university tuition --both in state and out of state-- as compared to other states. Click here for the chart

From the same source, a chart of tuition and fees at the 2-year public colleges nationwide. Again, NH is the second most expensive in the country. Two year colleges The information was compiled and published on the website of 2018 The College Board | PSAT/NMSQT is a registered trademark of the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

breaking news April 13, 2018 This Friday the 13th is not a bad-luck day for prospective NH Community College system students: New Hampshire's community colleges say they will no longer charge an application fee. Applicants no longer have to pay $20 to apply to any of the state's seven community colleges.

The community colleges also won't charge an orientation fee, which is usually $30 to $40. College officials say students are encouraged to attend orientation in order to help them successfully transition to college, but many choose not to attend because of the fees.

Are NH's Community Colleges most expensive in nation? Posted Dec. 29, 2017 The report cited in article below is at <>

NH ranked most expensive for community college Apr 28, 2017 BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights (Citizens Count NH)

According to a new report, New Hampshire has the most expensive community colleges in the nation. The report ranked states based on the net price of two-year public colleges, as reported to the U.S. Department of Education. According to the report, "Net price is the total cost of college + including not just tuition but also textbooks, transportation, and living expenses + minus any state, federal, and institutional grants or scholarships the student receives."

Net price varies based on a person's income, since low income students receive more financial aid. For every income bracket, however, New Hampshire community colleges had the highest net price: about $14,500 for annual income under $30,000 and about $19,000 for all other income brackets.

Vermont was close behind New Hampshire, ranking third or fourth highest in each income bracket. Maine scored sixth highest in most income brackets. Massachusetts ranked near the middle of all states. The least expensive states varied based on income bracket, but Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii all consistently ranked among the five least expensive states for community college.

"Our cost of living and the lack of state support is the differentiating factor without a doubt," said Ross Gittell, the chancellor of the Community College System of NH. "I can't argue with the fact that many other states have a more generous aid program and that makes it more challenging for our students. This report highlights that challenge." However, the report used net price data from the 2014-2015 school year. The community college system in New Hampshire lowered tuition the following year. Tuition has stayed flat since then, while other states have raised prices. (LWVNH note: in 2017, the legislature included more funding for the community college system in its budget. Need to research how much, how that changes ranking if at all.)

New Hampshire community colleges have also been ranked in the top ten among states for the quality of education they offer.

The report came from the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit dedicated to making college more affordable.

To download a pdf of the article above click here.


from NHPR, Jan. 16, 2018: University System Expands Free Tuition Program for Qualifying In-State Students The University System of New Hampshire is expanding a program offering four years of free tuition to in-state students who qualify for federal Pell grants. [note: The Pell Grant is awarded to thousands of eligible students annually. Most recipients come from families where the annual household income falls below $25,000.]

The program, known as "Granite Guarantee," began last year at the University of New Hampshire. It'll now expand to cover Keene State College and Plymouth State University. Those schools will begin covering tuition for first-year students enrolling next fall.

Keene State College estimates about a third of its in-state students will qualify for the program. "Higher education for New Hampshire students is critical to fulfilling our state's workforce needs, and to keeping our in-state students in New Hampshire," said Keene State College Interim President Melinda Treadwell in a news release announcing the program.

Granite Guarantee currently covers about 400 students at the University of New Hampshire.

Higher Ed NH Legislative Report 2017:

The Public Higher Education joint House and Senate study committee met regularly in Fall 2017. On November 1, 2017, they issued this report of their findings:

Education Resources & Websites

Online sources on NH education:

From, a non-partisan organization that collects data on politics and other issues across the country: Public Education in NH It offers some background date and comparisons with other states.

An online resource you may wish to consult: Advancing NH Public Education

Another online resource you may wish to consult: "Reaching Higher NH"<"

An online resource, non-profit and non-partisan, for school choice information: School Choice for New Hampshire

From the School Superintendents Assn, a national organization, comes this Resolution in Support of Public Education.

For a detailed background of education in NH, some may wish to read this 17 pp document from the the NH Center fore Public Policy Studies. Lessons from New Hampshire: What We Can Learn from the History of the State's Role in School Finance -- 1642 - 1998 Author: Douglas E. Hall, Executive Director of New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

Standards & Assessments Fact Sheets

June 14, 2018 Citizens Count NH reports that Governor Sununu signs school assessment test opt-out May 30, 2018

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 1744, which gives parents and guardians the right to opt students out of statewide assessment tests.

HB 1744 states that a school cannot penalize a student that opts out. The bill also prohibits the state from penalizing a school district that has a lower participation rate in statewide assessment tests.

Bill supporters argue that parents have the right to guide the education of their children. Statewide assessment tests have been criticized for many reasons, including their reliance on Common Core curriculum.

Opponents argue enabling test opt outs will decrease participation, making it difficult to evaluate each school's overall performance.

In previous years there was concern that lower participation rates could also lead to a cut in federal education funding, but the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now allows opt-outs.

(League note: the bill passed the Senate along party lines in April; passed the House on a voice vote in March.)

ESSA What is ESSA and NH's implementation plan? 10/25/17 fact sheet. Explains the NH Consolidated State Plan for implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Fact sheet on Assessments--tests students take statewide with links to sample Smarter Balance questions and to NH school districts results in 2017 testing. From Kearsarge/Sunapee study committee. Assessments websites 11-5-17

Home Schooling in NH

Home schooling: summary of NH regulations. This article is from the Coalition for Responsible Home Education website, which is Click here for the 3pp pdf.

School Safety

New School Safety Preparedness Taskforce has been set up by Gov. Sununu, Feb. 26, 2018. Read the NHPR report here.

Amendment proposed to SB357 to allow schools to set no-guns policy in school safe zones. Read the article here. Feb. 26, 2018 Update 4/17/18 This amendment was defeated in the Senate and was not included in the bill recommended today by the House Education Committee.

Education Freedom Savings Accounts (2017-2018 sessions)

Background: SB 193-FN, establishing "education freedom savings accounts" for students made its way partway thru the NH Legislature (spring 2017). SB 193 passed the Senate, but was retained by the House for further study. Retained Bill Subcommittee Work Session was done in fall 2017. The full House Education Committee voted on the bill on Nov. 14, 2017. The vote crossed party lines somewhat with a 10-9 recommendation of "Ought to Pass." It came before the full House on Jan. 3 2018, greatly amended from early 2017, where it passed 183-162. Went to the House Finance Committee. House voted it down. Senate tacked it onto HB1636 (unrelated except it's about education.) House voted non-concur. The bill has been amended many times. See top of this webpage for updates on its progress in Spring 2018. (update May 2018--seems to dead for this year. Proponents promise a new bill in 2019.)

Opposing points of view on the effect of this bill if enacted are available on the following three websites:

From the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

From Reaching Higher NH and similar articles from Advancing NH Public Education

10/30/17: From Reaching Higher NH, this article and detailed chart of the cost impact on local school districts if SB193 (the "voucher" bill) goes into effect. Click here to access the article and chart. The House Education Committee will vote on their recommendation of this bill on Nov. 8, sometime after 11 am. In January 2018 the bill will go to the entire House.

School voucher programs explained in general From a webinar with Chief Policy & Advocacy officer from the National Centers for Learning Disabilities via Reaching Higher NH--August 2017

The Case for School Vouchers from a PBS panel discussion a few years ago (date unclear). Skip to the bottom of the page for a link to the opposite viewpoints.

League positions on Education

In 2012 the national League of Women Voters conducted a study and reached a position on the Federal Role in Education. Click here to read the position.

LWV New Hampshire's 1980 position on education has been amended by the following position, adopted by the board on Jan. 18, 2018. It covers phase one of our current study, will be expanded after the next round of consensus.

EDUCATION. Adopted by the board Jan. 18, 2018. (note that this position was reached thru the study and consensus process in 2017-18. It will encompass other areas after phase two of the study and consensus process is completed, by fall 2018 we hope.)

The League of Women Voters New Hampshire (LWVNH) believes that the responsibility to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children grades K through 12 is shared by the federal, state, and local governments, as expressed in the US and NH constitutions. A quality public education is essential for a strong, viable, and sustainable democratic society and is a civil right.

LWVNH believes a basic role of the state government in funding education should be to achieve equity among municipalities and school districts. This should be done with full understanding that equity does not mean equal, given that some sub-groups of students are more expensive to educate than others and that localities have specific needs.

LWVNH believes that the voters in each school district have the right and the power to choose to offer more educational opportunities beyond those that the state funds and determines to be an "adequate" education, and to raise funding locally, even if this creates greater disparities among school districts.

LWVNH believes that the disparity between actual per pupil costs in school districts and the amount the state contributes to school districts requires funding beyond current state property taxes. In determining our support for additional state revenue streams, LWVNH believes that revenue sources should be assessed in terms of their impact on the ability to pay, the stability and sustainability of the revenue stream, and whether the revenue stream results in regressive taxation or harmful social impact.

LWVNH believes that parents who choose not to use the public schools do so of their own volition and that public funds should not be used to support home schooling or private schools and academies, including religiously affiliated schools.

If any state funds are to be used to pay for all or part of private and/or religiously affiliated school costs, then LWVNH believes that the private/religious schools must have nondiscrimination policies, recognized accreditation, teachers that meet qualifications as set by the NH Department of Education, and that assessments of competencies must be used and reported to the NH Department of Education according to the timetables applied to public school districts.

Whether or not state funds are given to parents to pay for all or part of the expenses of home schooling, LWVNH believes that parents must be held accountable for outcomes, just as the public school districts are held accountable, by the administration and reporting of test results or performance-based assessments of competencies determined acceptable by the NH Department of Education.

LWVNH supports consideration of innovative approaches to education. If criteria are developed and met and approval is given for innovative programs, the League believes that time frames in which to assess, demonstrate and report outcomes must be included in the plan to move forward.

Click here for the pdf of above position.

State Bd of Education meetings

Next meeting is Nov. 8, 2018, 9 am-2pm. Agenda is posted on their website: <> Also on their website are minutes and video of previous meetings.

The Board of Education meets once a month. Unless posted otherwise, meetings take place at the NH Department of Education building (Londergan Hall), 101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH, on the second Thursday of the month. The 7 members of the board are appointed by the Governor for a 5-years term. Five represent their districts (same as the Executive Council districts); two are "at large." Meetings are open to the public, generally begin at 9 am with public comment sessions.

Reaching Higher NH presentation

View the YouTube video created by LWV Nashua unit. Dan Vallone, outreach director for Reaching Higher NH, spoke about the status of education in NH on May 16, 2017, at a public meeting in Nashua organized by League. Click here to view the video--it is a little over one hour in length.

Dan Vallone also spoke to the LWVKearsarge/Sunapee Area members at their annual potluck supper on 9/20/17.

Interesting asides

In this space we will include interesting perspectives on public education as food for thought, not as League positions nor even necessarily substantive facts. Let the discussion begin!

"Americans say U.S. colleges make the grade, but many say public schools don't measure up" Pew Research study By Kristen Bialik and Jocelyn Kiley, May 17, 2018. It's short and easy to read. <>

April 27, 2018--Concord Monitor article about possible new lawsuit regarding school funding in NH. Claremont case in the 1990s didn't solve everything.

This lengthy article in the October 2017 issue of The Atlantic is titled "Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That's a Mistake. Subtitle: The current debate over public education underestimates its value--and forgets its purpose" by Erika Christakas. Click here for the article.

This short piece by Jamie Vollmer, a noted speaker on education issues, has become famous. Vollmer was once a harsh critic, now has become an articulate friend of America's public schools. Visit his website for more info: <> Here is The Blueberry Story

From LWVNH Nashua member Jean Lewandowski, the following piece about the board of education appeared in the Nashua Telegraph on Sept. 3, 2017. Click here to read the article.

The Democracy Project is an exciting effort announced in Spring 2017 by the NH Historical Society to improve education in grades k-12 around history and civics.