NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle released the following statement today:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Yet, this is exactly what we have come to expect from programs and initiatives championed by our education commissioner, Frank Edelblut. First it was the hype and misdirection surrounding his “Learn Everywhere” rules. Now it’s his “look I found $46 million for our charter schools with no strings attached” plan.
Let’s be clear: the money Commissioner Edelblut is peddling from Betsy DeVos will cost New Hampshire far more than $46 million over five years and will do nothing to help the overwhelming majority of students in our state.
If, as the commissioner says, there are no strings attached to this money, then why has the grant application for the funds been taken off the Department’s website and withdrawn from public view? When it was online, huge sections of the financial portions of the proposal were redacted, including information regarding the amount requested and budgets for precisely how any awarded funds would be spent.
If this grant will cost New Hampshire nothing, then why was this the very important information never freely accessible to the public?
The commissioner claims the grant would be used to double the number of charter schools in New Hampshire over the next 5 years. The grant only covers start-up costs – not operating or maintenance costs – amounts that the taxpayers of the state will be responsible for years after the grant money runs out.
The commissioner fails to note that if the number of charter students in the state doubles from roughly 4,000 to 8,000, the state would be responsible for providing an additional $13.6 million per year in charter aid that has not been budgeted.
In seeking this grant, the commissioner has clearly made a policy decision to dramatically expand the number of charter schools in our state – a decision that should rest with the legislature and not an un-elected, appointed commissioner. He has embarked on this path without ensuring that our current charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as our neighborhood public schools. Commissioner Edelblut’s Department of Education can’t keep track of the charter schools New Hampshire has now. He did not provide answers to Fiscal Committee member’s questions regarding charter reporting, especially in the area of fiscal reporting.
The Fiscal Committee questions served to highlight the lack of information the commissioner has made available regarding the grant, and to preview the deficiencies we can expect should the grant be accepted.