Public education and educators are not the enemy
More than 100 educators and supporters from across New England converged on the lawn at Londonderry High School today in response to the Education Summit hosted by Campbell Brown and featuring six republican presidential candidates.
“We are here because we are not allowed inside,” said Scott McGilvray, NEA-New Hampshire President. Earlier in the day, NEA-NH member Penny Culliton was denied entry, even though she held a valid registration entry form. She was told, “It’s a private event and we can deny access to anyone we want” by event organizers.
All 17 Republican candidates ignored invitations from NEA-NH to sit down and meet with them to discuss their education policy and to try to secure NEA-NH’s recommendation for the Republican primary. In 2008, Mike Huckabee earned NEA-NH’s recommendation for their Republican members in that primary.
“They have disqualified themselves by barring us from entering the Summit and by refusing to sit down and discuss policy. These are not policy decisions, these are personal attacks on our profession,” continued McGilvray.
WATCH NOW: Rally video, including speaker’s remarks.
NEA-NH President Scott McGilvray’s Remarks:
I would like to welcome my brothers and sisters that have travelled here today from all across New England to stand strong with us against the GOP reform plan for education that embraces extreme right wing policies that equates to less opportunity for our students.
The 2016 presidential race has become a fight for the American Dream. Education is at the core—it’s the great equalizer—and many candidates within the GOP have made it their mission to weaken the public schools in their home states.
We’ve heard these candidates call to slash funding, close schools that serve students who struggle, and cut the pay of teachers whose students are not testing well. When more than 50 percent of children attending public school qualify for free or reduced lunch—who does this serve? The students or those looking to profit off of privatizing our education system?
Rather than handing our neighborhood schools over to business to make a quick buck, these candidates should be looking for smarter solutions that actually address the root causes of these problems and strive for schools that educate the whole child.
I believe amongst this crop of candidates is the most anti-public education, and anti-working class group that we have ever seen. They take pride in ignoring their constituents, and compare those of us who have dedicated our lives to educating and empowering students to terrorists. I will not give any one of them the satisfaction of being singled out.
It is not extreme to expect those entrusted to spend five days a week educating your children to be adequately qualified—or to believe that a child is more than a test score.
We are not the villains—we can stop the vilification, and attack on public education by uniting behind policies that are right for our future.
Londonderry Math Teacher Steven Tallo’s Remarks:
Good afternoon, my name is Stephen Tallo and I am math teacher here at Londonderry High School. I have been an educator for 29 years here in Londonderry and have been in the profession for 35 years.
NEA members, in school and classrooms all across the country, are leading creative and results-oriented programs and initiatives that help to transform public education for all students. Student achievement ought to be the driving force behind any initiative to improve public schools.
Those candidates in there don’t have the best interests of our students at heart. I know the students walking the halls of Londonderry High School and take pride in all of my students. Yet as an educator in this community, neither me nor any of my colleagues been asked to be a participant in that forum.
Here in the Londonderry School District we take pride in ensuring that our students are college and career ready – and build our curriculum to ensure our students are successful.
We have made changes to testing in the 11th grade. We now use the SAT instead of the smarter balance test, to embrace college readiness.
It is a goal of the Londonderry School District to get 95% of our students admitted into two or four year college programs.
Instead of taking away funding from our public schools and handing it over to private schools that have little or no accountability to taxpayers – like many attending this forum today support – we should invest in strategies that we know help to improve the success of all our students, such as smaller class sizes, parental involvement and more learning and training opportunities for teachers.
We hope that our forum highlights the strong public schools like we have here in Londonderry and all across this great state and nation.
Special Education Teacher Allison Estes-Brown Remarks:
Hello, my name is Allison Estes-Browne and I am a special education teacher at Plymouth Elementary School. I have been an educator for 16 years with 14 years in New Hampshire.
I am here today because I believe in our children and the Strong Public Schools that we have not only here in New Hampshire but across this great nation.
Unfortunately, all across the country, we’re seeing an increasing number of efforts to fund private school tuition at the taxpayers’ expense. Regardless of whether it’s vouchers or school choice, the simple truth is these schemes rob public schools of vital funding and resources.
I grew up in Miami, FL where my parents sent me to a private high school. My parents did the best for me that they knew, but my school lacked highly qualified teachers and a diverse population. My high school, like most private schools, relied on the homogeneity of rich and educated families with similar values to buoy their reputation.
Fast forward 20 years and I had the opportunity to select a school community for my sons,
Do you think I chose a school with limited resources where my sons would only interact with one class of people? (NO)
Do you think I chose a homogenous community? (NO)
Do you think I chose private schools? (NO)
No I did not. I chose to be a teacher and raise my children in a state with strong public education, where rich and poor parents work with educators to create strong public schools. I made a conscious choice to teach in the public schools of New Hampshire.
I wanted to be in a state where families and educators are empowered to make public schools stronger. Our town hall system of governance encourages interaction and accountability. 16 years ago, I began teaching in a classroom with 35 students in a all struggling with the issues related to poverty. In NH, I was empowered to teach for the first time because of local control that pushed for smaller class sizes and adequate resources. My home district is not a “rich” district. 40% of our students’ families receive some sort of assistance. That ratio means that we are a diverse and integrated school district. People don’t talk about integration that much because we are NH. But it is here and it can be successful.
Opportunity is the cornerstone of public education. As educators, we believe that every student in New Hampshire and across this country – deserves the opportunity to learn and grow through great public schools.
Educating all of our students is the best investment we can make in our future – nothing is more important. That’s why we’re committed to investing in educational opportunities for every student.
America’s public schools accept all children, regardless of their race, ZIP code, or family background – making our schools the greatest source of opportunity for all American families.
Well-resourced schools, with qualified and caring teachers are our best bet for setting all students and our nation toward a great future.