Today, the New Hampshire School Boards Association, the New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators, the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, and NEA-New Hampshire published the following open letter to members of the New Hampshire State Board of Education asking them to “oppose the implementation of the proposed “Learn Everywhere” rules, and instead focus their efforts and resources on expanding our state’s highly effective ELO offerings and network.” Members of each of these organizations have all spoken out in opposition to this plan. The State Board of Education is expected to vote on the final proposal during their June 13 meeting.
Dear Members of the New Hampshire State Board of Education,
We believe that as proposed, the “Learn Everywhere” rules trample local control, are highly skewed toward wealthy families, grant graduation credits from non-accredited, non-credential sources, and provide little oversight and limited protections to students with disabilities and their families. Specifically,
“Learn Everywhere” breaches the authority of school boards and communities to determine the qualifications for credit-bearing courses and ignores the teacher credentialing process and school accreditation procedure that the state administers, trampling New Hampshire’s longstanding tradition of local control.
New Hampshire diplomas have value in the higher education and business community because the State Board of Education has seen fit to pass rules which require our schools to be accredited, and teachers to have degrees, licenses, continuous professional development and probationary periods in order to meet the standards needed to grant graduation credits. Those wishing to enter the profession from non-traditional paths have that opportunity through the state’s Alternative Certification process – also approved by the State Board of Education. While every state certified educator must adhere to a code of conduct, “Learn Everywhere” instructors are under no such requirement. “Learn Everywhere” bypasses all these important safeguards by granting access to students and the authority to award graduation credit that all school districts must accept, even if they do not meet that District’s graduation requirement, to anyone who passes a background check. This will negatively impact the value of a New Hampshire high school diploma.
Education professionals agree that not all learning is done in the classroom. In fact, across New Hampshire, students are provided with the innovative learning opportunities they deserve by taking advantage of ELOs, CTE, work-based learning, and dual and concurrent enrollment programs. All these programs are developed and overseen by expert and credentialed educators to ensure the learning is rigorous and that the student has mastered the competencies required for their school’s graduation credit. New Hampshire businesses and institutes of higher education are already familiar with these programs and accept the credits earned. “Learn Everywhere” offers no such safeguards or assurance of acceptance.
New Hampshire’s ELO opportunities are open to all students, regardless of family income. “Learn Everywhere” is highly skewed towards families and students with the means to afford the extra enrichment activities used as examples for the program, and does little to help close education equity gaps.
Public schools, including charter schools, in New Hampshire are subject to the provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, state laws, and rules. These laws and rules are intended to protect students with disabilities and their families and specify the school’s role and responsibilities in providing students with a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE). If a student requires a paraprofessional, the proposed “Learn Everywhere” rules indicate that the district must provide the paraprofessional to accompany the student, even if the program is offsite and/or outside of regular school hours. The student’s school is also responsible for determining and ensuring that any “Learn Everywhere” program is appropriate for the student, even though the programs are run and managed by organizations outside of the school’s control, and the school has no role in managing the supervision or direction of the program. In essence, if approved, “Learn Everywhere” will become a very large unfunded mandate.
We urge the members of the State Board of Education to oppose the implementation of “Learn Everywhere” rules, and instead focus efforts and resources on expanding our state’s highly effective ELO offerings and network.
Jane Bergeron-Beaulieu, Executive Director, New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators
Barrett M. Christina, Executive Director, New Hampshire School Boards Association
Dr. Carl Ladd, Executive Director, New Hampshire School Administrators Association
Ken Page, Interim Executive Director, New Hampshire Association of School
Megan Tuttle, President, NEA-New Hampshire