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 4 locations around the state in Dec 2017 and early Jan 2018.

Phase two is underway, with consensus meetings being planned for June/July 2018. Attend our May 19 conference to prepare for rigorous League discussion.

Education Conference May 19, 2018

REGISTER NOW: Saturday May 19, 2018, is the next League conference on education. Hopkinton Town Library community room, 61 Houston Dr, Contoocook, NH 03229

Space is limited to the first 60 people who register. Please send email with your name, town, if you are a League member or if you represent an organization. Registration required; payment of $15 to cover lunch and expenses payable at the door (cash preferred; check acceptable). Email to register.

The morning focus will be on the importance of pre-Kindergarten education, with several expert speakers (see below). In the afternoon we'll learn about charter schools in NH. Members and invited guests welcome; if you know of school board members, legislators, or others who might be especially interested, please invite them.

Tentative schedule, getting firmer every day:

Agenda (may be subject to slight changes) 9:00: Registration, Coffee, morning snacks

9:15: Welcome and Introduction of speakers.

9:25-11:15 Kimberly Nesbitt, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at UNH, will discuss the benefits of access to high-quality early learning, research on its importance and the potential impact on children's immediate and long -term development. She will explain the role of the federal government in establishing Pre-K programs.

Jackie Cowell, Director, Early Learning New Hampshire, will address how the first five years of a child's life lay the groundwork for all further K-12 education and examine how New Hampshire currently supports this early learning through various programs.

Christina D'Allesandro, NH State Director of Mom's Rising, will discuss the public Pre-K program in Portsmouth, other local pre-K initiatives, and tools communities can use to implement their own pre-K programs.

11:15 Break

11:30 Kate Rogers, Early Childhood Special Education Director, State of Vermont Agency of Education, will address how Vermont raised awareness of the need for Pre-K, passed legislation in 2014, and implemented public Pre-K.

Rebecca Woitkowski, Early Childhood Policy Coordinator, New Futures/Kids Count, and Lindsay Hanson, Government Relations Manager, Save the Children Action Network-NH, will discuss advocacy for Pre-K.

Facilitated discussion with input from Representative Linda Tanner, who serves on the House Education Committee: New Hampshire has federally mandated Pre-K for children with special needs, but is one of only a few states that does not offer public Pre-K to other children. Is the state ready to begin considering establishing universal public Pre-K? What steps should be taken and what role can the League of Women Voters and others play in this process?

12:30 Lunch--delicious assortment of catered sandwiches; gluten-free alternative; beverages and cookies.

1:00 Panelists Matt Southington, Executive Director, New Hampshire Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Matora Fiorey Ph.D, Director of Surry Village Charter School near Keene, will tell us how charter schools function In NH. Charter schools are public schools of choice, funded by the state. About 26 charters serve students in grades k-12. We will learn whom they serve and the challenges they face.

2:15 Discussion of an action plan: What are the next steps League and others wish to take to support and improve public education in NH?

Breaking News on Voucher Bill 4/17/18

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.

Fact Sheets & Resources

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.

Background on public education. Introduction, scope & timeline of the 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).

Funding Education.

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

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

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

Early Childhood Education

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.

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

Three fact sheets:

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.

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.

Other 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 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

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.

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.)

Fact sheets Higher Ed in NH

"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 instate 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? Fact sheet 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 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. Now it is in the House Finance Committee.The bill has been amended many times. See top of this webpage for updates on its progress in Spring 2018.

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

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!

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.

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 study and consensus process in 2017-18. It will encompass other areas after phase two of the study and consensus process is completed, by summer 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 May 10, 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.

HB 356 (2017 session) now Education Funding and Adequacy Study Committee

An amended bill to study education funding and adequacy and also to study the structure of the NH Dept of Education was passed by both bodies in NH Legislature. Those studies began summer 2017; we encourage League members to follow the work of the joint special committee. Reports will be posted here as released. The bill is now Chaptered Law 0190:1 and 190:2 and the committee is described as a Study Committee. Meetings will be posted on the General Court website: League has observed nearly all of these meetings, applauds the work being done to devise a better funding formula based on input from many knowledgeable sources. Next meeting of the funding study committee is Monday, April 30, 2018 at 10 am in LOB 209.

Full new title of the amended bill is this: (Second New Title) establishing a committee to study education funding and the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education, establishing a committee to study the organizational structure of the department of education and the duties and responsibilities of the commissioner of the department of education, and relative to the duties of the commissioner of the department of education.

CACR7, a proposed constitutional amendment, was retained by the House committee in Feb. 2017. The amendment if approved by voters 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.

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.