In comments made during the public hearing on HB370 repealing vouchers and the privatization of New Hampshire’s public schools, Senator Reagan (R-Deerfield) said he believes that the only thing New Hampshire public schools accomplish is preparing new workers for jobs at fast food restaurants. The collective slap in the face his comments represent to the 190,805 students and 28,719 educators and support staff that work tirelessly every day in New Hampshire’s public schools is uninformed and calls for a public apology. His words and actions reflect his complete lack of understanding of the potential, caliber and accomplishments of New Hampshire’s students and schools, as well his total disregard for public education.
I invite Senator Reagan to join me in visiting some of the schools in New Hampshire he believes are simply Fast Food Training Facilities to see the hard work, accomplishments, and pride evident throughout each one. I would be happy to introduce him to the future engineers, scientists, CEO’s, artists, writers, programmers and educators who inhabit our schools. Young people who have the full support and encouragement of their teachers who believe they can accomplish far more than Senator Reagan gives them credit for.
Senator Reagan is right about one thing. There is a problem with public education in New Hampshire. The problem is not the students and educators. The problem is the politicians who fail to engage and support our neighborhood schools. Who fail to provide students, teachers and neighborhood schools with the tools and resources they need to continuously improve. Who point fingers, make ridiculous claims about students and teachers, and assume no responsibility for the results. Who, together with outside interest groups, believe they know how to improve our schools without spending any time in our classrooms. Who forget educators provide the stable, nurturing, inspiring environment that makes it possible to reach each student individually.
Despite politicians like Senator Reagan, who do their best to undermine, de-fund, denigrate and dismantle education, public schools in New Hampshire have succeeded in increasing AP offerings and scores, in preparing students for college and careers, in lowering the dropout rate to stunningly low numbers by offering creative alternatives for students who can benefit most from them, in remaining at the top of the list for SAT scores, and countless other ways that become evident by visiting just one local school.
My offer to Senator Reagan, or any Senate or House member remains open. Visit New Hampshire’s schools with me. Let’s talk about how we can keep the promise of public education for all of New Hampshire’s children rather than stoop to making dangerous generalizations.
Scott McGilvray, President, NEA-New Hampshire