"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Community members voice education priorities at state listening session

I was not able to attend the session, but I am glad the Meredith News reported on this important event.
According to the School District website:
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the replacement for the law commonly known as No Child Left Behind, provides the state and all NH schools with a chance to sharpen our collective vision for education and improve, innovate and strengthen our public schools.
The New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) wants all of our stakeholders to join in this critical discussion by sharing ideas on what is most important to improve student learning and how the state can best support schools to serve the needs of all students. All students and parents are welcome to join in the discussion.

The School District Moultonborough School District will host a screening of the documentary, Most
Likely to Succeed, on Monday, November 14th, @ 6:30 p.m. in the Community Auditorium at Moultonborough Academy. New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner, Dr. Virginia Barry, will lead a panel discussion following the screening.

Meredith News
BY ERIN PLUMMER eplummer@salmonpress.com

MOULTONBOROUGH — Educators, parents, and other community members had
the chance to share their priorities for education a listening session that provided feedback for the state’s education plan.
Stakeholders from across the community took part in a listening session at Moultonborough Academy on Tuesday night, the first of six aimed at gathering feedback for the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaces the previous No Child Left Behind as the federal guideline for K-12 education. Each state will be writing their own plan for ESSA. Heather Gage, Chief of Staff at the NH Department of Education, said the state first wanted to get input from communities on what they consider to be the state’s educational priorities. Gage said they don’t want to start receiving federal funds until they understand what the priorities are for their distribution. A survey was posted on the DOE website to take feedback from people.
 Listening sessions were scheduled around the state in different regions. “I think we need to spend a lot more time with what is important to you,” Gage said. “I think that having this kind of conversation should be driving our priorities in the state.” She said the plan is in progress and nothing has been submitted. She said they wanted to get this feedback before writing anything down. Declining enrollment is one issue that was brought up. Inter-Lakes School Board member Mark Billings said with an aging population rural communities in the state are facing declining enrollments and some tough questions. Norman Larson of Moultonborough said declining enrollment is usually linked to cutting back funds and services. “I think that’s the opposite of what we want,” Larson said. He said families looking to move will look at each school district and a good school district will bring more people, which he said will lower taxes. He supported some “friendly competition” between the schools to get more students into their districts. A number of speakers also wanted more updates on what and how students are doing after high school. Laurie Whitley of Moultonborough said achievement has been traditionally measured in assessment scores and college acceptances. “Now I really feel strongly it should be measured by what students do after they leave high school and how passionate they are about continued learning,” Whitley said. Moultonborough selectman Jean Beadle said she wanted to see information on students five, 10, and 15 years after graduation. In the same vein, Beadle, Whitley, and a number of other speakers also said options for success should also include technical careers and education.  “There’s kids coming through here who could be very successful and could have a very successful career, but there’s a stigma,” said Moultonborough School Board member Jonathan Tolman, Tolman said tradespeople could make a lot of money right in this area. Acceptance into a technical school, however, is often met with less enthusiasm than acceptance into a four-year college or university. Increased services for mental health was another topic. Charlene Seibel, a school board member with the Governor Wentworth Regional School District, said mental health should be a component of health class. “So many students and so many families struggle with that and to me knowledge is power and the more you know the better it is,” Seibel said. MA principal Andrew Coppinger said he also wanted to see greater access to mental health services for students. He said 70 percent of MA students have had some kind of childhood trauma and mental health services are lacking in rural communities. Another topic was seeing education as more than a test score. Moultonborough superintendent Susan Noyes said the students are well rounded and involved with so many different activities and interests. “How do we keep our students on this continuum that has checkpoints all along the way we have to meet, yet try to be innovative and let them move at their own pace?” said Noyes. Norman and Joya Larson both said they wanted to keep support for the arts and extracurricular activities in schools. A few other speakers also wanted to see students learn more life skills, from counting out change to coming to work on time. After the listening and review process the DOE will draw up the plan consulting with the governor’s office. The plan will be submitted to the federal government next July.

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