NEA-New Hampshire President provided in-person testimony to the Governor’s Save Our Summers Study Commission this week.
Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order establishing a commission to study the impact of New Hampshire schools setting start dates before Labor Day, and to evaluate whether schools should be required to start after the holiday. In the Executive Order, the Governor wrote “starting school after Labor Day lengthens the summer tourism season, increases tourism expenditures and increases tourism and recreation-related state and local government revenues.”
The following is the testimony given by NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle:
Members of the Save Our Summers Study Commission,
Good morning. My name is Megan Tuttle and I am President of NEA-New Hampshire, representing more than 17,000 education professionals across the state.
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. For more than 160 years, we have championed causes important to students and educators because we know that decisions about schools and what’s best for students should be made by the educators who work with our kids every day. But time after time, mandates are put in place with little or no input from educators.
Such is the case here as well. We believe, by not appointing an NEA-NH representative to the committee, the opportunity to hear the voices of 17,000 experienced educators during committee meetings and deliberations was missed. The input informed by their collective experience must instead be boiled down to a 2-minute presentation in front of you today.
It is refreshing to see the Governor take such an interest in public education, but we believe his attention would be better served if it were focused on real issues facing schools and not the length of summer vacation.
If we’re serious about every child’s future, then we need to get serious about doing what works. This means resourcing our public schools so that every child has access to one‐on‐one instruction, inviting and safe school environments, and a well‐rounded curriculum.
Ask educators why we work in schools and we will respond instantly: we believe in children. All children. Education isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. As a teacher, I strive to connect with each child, discover their passions, and unlock their potential. As a community, we must ensure every educator has the resources, mentoring, and support they need to create learning environments with class sizes that enable teachers to connect one-on‐one with each student.
But that’s not what this committee has been charged by the Governor to address.
Instead, we find ourselves in the middle of a government-funded effort to determine if all students should start school after Labor Day, rather than finding ways for kids to start school by age 4.
We believe the attention and effort to “save our summers” does nothing to address or improve student success. This proposal is based on the false premise that all children learn the same way, and that every school district faces the same challenges. Mandating a statewide school start date will do nothing to ensure that New Hampshire’s children come to school with what they need to succeed, and that districts have the resources they need to support student success.
In all previous interviews on this subject, I am quick to point out that if this proposal was based on any solid research-based evidence that indicated in any way that student outcomes would improve by a post-Labor Day start date, we would be the first to sign on to such a proposal.
Our current system of allowing districts, parents and educators to determine what school schedule works best for their community is not broken and does not need to be fixed. It certainly does not need to be tossed aside to allow businesses to make profits at the expense of a child’s education and the expressed choices of a community.
Of all the things we teach our kids, the most important is love of learning. Schools inspire children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. We should allow the schools in each community to continue to do just that without imposing a state-mandated start date on them, that does nothing to improve the quality of a child’s learning experience
NEA-New Hampshire President