Monday, December 31, 2007

Addition to our family.

Our son was born July 6th and has kept us busy the past six weeks along with the care of our three year old daughter. We hope to resume posting on a regular basis as time permits.

Citizens for Reasonable And Fair Taxes (CRAFT) was a group that we started in December 2002 to fight the spending problem in our schools in Illinois. CRAFT quickly grow to over 600 supporters and active members. CRAFT eventually networked many groups statewide to fight for education reform and education spending reform.

When we moved to New Hampshire we decided to start a group here in Croydon and for people residing within SAU 43. We are looking for individuals to join our efforts. People can do as little as being a recipient of our emails and spreading that information to friends and neighbors to becoming active in helping us reduce our tax rates by encouraging reduced spending in our schools at the same time encouraging improved educational results in both Croydon and SAU 43.

Please email us if you would like to become involved in controlling the spending therefore our tax rates within our school district and improving the quality of education our students receive. There is no cost involved in joining our efforts.

New posts appear below this post.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another reason not to vote for Hillary

The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the Union Leader.

Another reason not to vote for Hillary
To the Editors: As if we didn't have enough reason not to support Hillary Clinton, the New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association recently gave her its endorsement. This largest union in America doesn't endorse candidates based on their service to the public.

The NEA continually strives to force every taxpayer to send as much money as possible into their hands through frivolous lawsuits and legislative edicts. To this end, the NEA supports candidates committed to using the power of government to suit their financial, not educational goals.

From its perspective, the NEA chose wisely, for all evidence suggests Hillary Clinton would be delighted to send our money to the NEA in exchange for political influence. Its the true reason she earned their endorsement, and the reason she must not have the public's endorsement in January.

Whether you're a Democrat, Republican or independent, one thing is clear. Hillary Clinton has neither the integrity nor competence to serve as President. Hillary Clinton stands for Hillary Clinton, nothing more.

-- Jim Peschke, Croydon

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fight taxes - Rep. David R. Boutin, Hooksett

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Concord Monitor.

Fight taxes - Rep. David R. Boutin, Hooksett

Tuesday's municipal elections crystallized what will be the central campaign issue in the 2008 elections: taxes. Voters wisely elected two tax-fighters: Manchester Mayor Guinta and Mayor-elect Donnalee Lozeau in Nashua. Taxpayers in Dover overwhelmingly voted for a charter amendment that establishes a tax cap.

In 2006 voters elected Democrats to govern the state. The Democrats proved that they cannot govern with fiscal restraint. First, the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed, without Republican support, a 17.5 percent budget increase. Second, without Republican support, they passed $169 million in new or increased taxes and fees. And third, the Democrat-controlled Executive Council and Gov. Lynch passed increased highway tolls.

The Democrat-controlled Legislature has spent the past few months determining which broad-based tax they believe they can saddle on New Hampshire taxpayers. I'll give three guesses and the first two do not count. If you guessed income tax, you would be right.

Taxpayers must be vigilant in watching what new or increased taxes or fees the Democrat-controlled Legislature will pass in 2008. Tell your state representative and state senator that enough is enough. Tell them no new or increased taxes or fees in 2008.



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Phillips Exeter will be cost-free for some next year

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader.

Phillips Exeter will be cost-free for some next year
Union Leader Correspondent

EXETER – Current and prospective students at Phillips Exeter Academy will be recipients of a new financial aid package next year if their family income is less than $75,000 -- their tuition, boarding and other necessarily school materials will be completely free.

"The educational gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' continues to widen in this country and in the world," principal Tyler Tingley said in a statement announcing the board of trustees' decision.

"We want to be clear that money does not stand in the way of an Exeter education," he continued.

►Click here to view the news release about Phillips Exeter Academy free tuition.

Included in the free education will be a computer, academic supplies, books, school fees and linens for students' rooms. Without any financial aid, which is offered for families with income up to $200,000, full tuition and room and board comes to more than $36,000 a year, excluding books and fees.

School spokesperson Julie Quinn said the new initiative is funded by the school's large endowment fund that recently topped over $1 billion and a fundraising campaign that has raised its $305 million goal two years ahead of schedule.

The school's current financial aid program helps 46 percent of its students with tuition costs, with grants that total more than $13 million. The school also decided last year to become a "no loan" institution where student loans would be replaced by grants.

The initiative is expected to affect 183 out of the school's 1,000 students. Of those, 83 students have families who are currently contributing partial amounts of the school's tuition while still receiving financial aid.

"The number of students who will fall into this category next year will, we expect, be larger, but we can't know the figure until our admissions cycle is complete in April," said Quinn.

Quinn said the initiative proves the school is "need blind," meaning it accepts applicants without regard to financial background and would qualify nearly two-thirds of American families to send their children, if accepted, to Phillips Exeter for free.

"The point of an Exeter education is usefulness to the world," said Charles Harris, president of the school's board of trustees. "Financial wealth should not determine access to the best education, nor should it shape a learning community."

Founded in 1781, the school is widely known for its Harkness teaching method and notable graduates such as Franklin Pierce, Daniel Webster and John Irving.

The initiative will go into effect for incoming and current students for the 2008-2009 school year.

Quote of the Day:
"I have found it; I have discovered the cause of all the misfortunes which befell him. A public school, Joseph, was the cause of all the calamaties which he afterwards suffered. Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality." Attribution: Henry Fielding (1707–1754), British novelist, dramatist. Abraham Adams, in Joseph Andrews, bk. 3, ch. 5 (1742). Speaking of his host, Wilson.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

School Choice

Quote of the Day
"Quality of educational opportunity is a civil rights issue for the 21st century and it’s one that we should embrace. We can accomplish this and if we do, we will revive education in America and education will be as it should be. Education in America should be not failing the way it is now in comparison to many other countries. Education in America should be the best education in the world and choice will make it that way." Mayor Giuliani’s Remarks At The Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, Washington, D.C., 10/20/07

Friday, November 9, 2007

GISD moves ahead with threat to sue parent

The following editorial appeared in the Galveston County The Daily News. The below article is not that uncommon we received a threat of a lawsuit back in Illinois as well as many of our education reform friends. We also had many friends whose children were harassed by teachers if they spoke against the status quo. Educrats will go to any length to protect their gravy train even it is to suppress the freedom of speech of others.

GISD moves ahead with threat to sue parent

By Rhiannon Meyers
The Daily News
Published October 31, 2007

GALVESTON — The public school district has officially demanded that parent Sandra Tetley remove what it says is libelous material from her Web site or face a lawsuit for defamation.

Tetley received a letter Monday from the district’s law firm demanding she remove what it termed libelous statements and other “legally offensive” statements posted by her or anonymous users, and refrain from allowing such postings in the future. If she refuses, the district plans to sue her, the demand letter states.

Tetley said she’ll review the postings cited by David Feldman of the district’s firm Feldman and Rogers. She’ll consider the context of the postings and consult attorneys before deciding what to delete.

“If it’s not worth keeping in there, I’ll take it out,” she said. “If in fact it is libelous, I have no problem taking it down.”

Libel Or Opinion?

Feldman said Tetley’s Web site — — contained the most “personal, libelous invective directed toward a school administrator” he’s seen in his 31-year career.

“It is not the desire of the School District, the Board, or this Firm to stifle free expression or inhibit robust debate regarding matters pertaining to the operation of the public schools,” Feldman wrote in the demand letter. “This is solely about the publication of materials that clearly go beyond that which is legally and constitutionally encouraged and permitted, and into the realm of what is legally offensive and actionable.”

Feldman cited 16 examples of what he says are libelous postings. Half were posted by Tetley; the other half were posted by anonymous users.

The postings accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for “personal gain,” violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees, among other things.

Tetley said the postings were opinions only.

“Everyone deserves to have their opinion,” she said. “I don’t think they have a right to make me, or anyone else, take down criticisms of them off the Web site. They’re not going to force us to take off our opinions because we have no other place to go.”

Tetley said she had not removed any of the postings as of late Tuesday.

Rare Move

One legal expert said the district’s move to sue Tetley is rare and unlawful. Under the 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan, government entities cannot sue for libel — any court would toss out the “threatening” suit as being inconsistent with U.S. law, said Sandra Baron, executive director of New-York based Media Law Resource Center. She called the district’s potential lawsuit an intimidation tactic and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Feldman said the district is only asking Tetley to remove a small percentage of postings on her site that he says accuse trustees and administrators of breaking the law. They’re not trying to shut down the blog or eliminate postings, he said.

“How can that be threatening or initmidating?” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of dialogue, if you will, on that Web log that we’re not touching with a pole ... What we leave is this huge field of free expression and discourse. There’s debate and then there’s libel. Debate all you want, criticize all you want, but don’t accuse people of committing crimes when you have absolutely no evidence to support that.”

More than 130 registered users post on Tetley’s site. Since trustees threatened legal action, more people have been visiting the site and posting, Tetley said. She said she planned to post Feldman’s letter on the site.

“People are very tired of what this type of government is doing,” Tetley said. “They are using our money to silence us.”

The law firm monitored the site for months before trustees took action. Board President David O’Neal said the postings deter potential employees from working at the district.

Tetley and her group, Galveston Alliance for Neighborhood schools, has long criticized the district for reconfiguring its middle schools, closing elementary schools, meeting in executive sessions some claimed were illegal, refusing to divulge the contents of a letter from a civil rights consultant and for issuing a budget forecast that was off by $10 million.

The district’s controversial reconfiguration, to go into effect in 2008-09, prompted Tetley to start the site.

It’s often difficult to prove a public official has been libeled. Aside from proving the libelous statements are damaging, public officials must also prove actual malice. Actual malice means knowing a statement is false or having reckless disregard for the truth.

A Sad Day for America's Children Occurred on November 6th.

The following media advisories express our sentiment in the defeat of the nation's first statewide universal voucher program. Teachers' Unions are destroying are public education system and the lives of millions of children they fail to educate every year. If teachers truly cared about our children they would support school choice. If the system is as great as teachers believe they would not fight so hard to keep their captive audiences. They would not fear choice if they knew families would stay with public schools if given the choice. The greed of educrats, teachers, school employees and their unions sadly is more important than the education of our children.

Media Advisory
Harriette Johnson
Media Relations Manager
phone 312/377-4000

Expert Comment:
Utah Voters Repeal Voucher Program

(CHICAGO, Illinois - November 7, 2007) On November 6, the nation's first statewide universal voucher program was defeated in Utah when voters repealed, through referendum, the law that created it last February. More than 60 percent voted for repeal.

In the statements below, experts contacted by The Heartland Institute explain the vote had more to do with teacher unions fighting for their very survival than parents' rejection of school choice. You may quote directly from this statement or contact the experts for further comment.

"At the Utah Education Association's annual rally last week, most of the discussion was devoted to how to defeat the state's universal voucher program on November 6. President Kim Burningham rallied the crowd by telling them voucher supporters could call in well-funded reinforcements from all over the country with a single phone call, knowing it would incense them into action. "Unfortunately, what she was actually describing was the network behind all the people speaking against vouchers from that very stage--not voucher advocates, who raised only chump change for every dollar of the $3 million raised and spent by the National Education Association and its affiliates before the vote.

"Fully 96 percent of the money to defeat the Utah voucher program came from union sources, while pro-voucher sources worked hard to raise 84 percent of their funds from in-state people. Utah teachers voluntarily contributed only 6 percent of the money to defeat the program--so they're not really against this. That means the other 94 percent of the union contributions were from mandatory dues money. "So this was not a matter of Utah voters saying they didn't want a voucher program. This was the rest of the nation ganging up on Utah. The teachers unions are fighting for their very survival, so it would be unrealistic to expect them to change their dishonest tactics at this stage. Until voters become better informed and more involved in protecting their own liberties, this is the sort of thing we can expect to see happening--but given the overwhelming popularity of other voucher programs nationwide, it's clear the tide is turning, and that day will soon arrive."

Karla Dial
Managing Editor - School Reform News

"The Alliance for School Choice is disappointed that Utah's voucher program did not prevail in yesterday's referendum. The Alliance regrets that thousands of disadvantaged children will be denied increased educational options because the voucher program, which was passed earlier this year by the Utah legislature and signed into law by Governor Huntsman, will not be implemented.

"The Alliance honors the valiant efforts of the thousands of parents who volunteered their time to support this referendum. These parents knew that ballot referenda, on any subject, rarely pass. But despite this, they worked mightily, and we salute them.

"The school choice movement, like any movement for reform, experiences the jubilation of successes and the disappointment of defeats. We have seen disadvantaged parents rise up and demand options for their children, and win. More than 100,000 children are the beneficiaries of a better education because of private school choice in America--more than ever before. And, despite the tens of millions of dollars spent by opponents, the clear majority of the American public supports school choice.

"A setback in one state is just that: a setback in one state. The movement to empower parents to choose a better education for their disadvantaged children remains vital, committed to its mission, and determined to achieve successes.

"Today, school choice supporters across the country are rightly disappointed. But, in our disappointment, we are emboldened to fight even harder to help the children in America who are too often forgotten."

Andrew Campanella
Director of Communications and Marketing
Alliance for School Choice

"This defeat is in no way a roadblock for the school choice movement in Utah or the U.S. Utah's very successful statewide school choice program for special-needs students still remains in effect. Across the country, there are more families than ever before choosing to exercise their right to educational choice. Parents everywhere are standing up and supporting the concept of school choice because they want the best educational experience for their children. "School choice is a state issue. Unfortunately, the fight in Utah was not. Statewide school choice organizations teamed up with parents and did a great job at getting out the information about the program and how a 'yes' vote on Referendum 1 would make a real difference in the education of thousands of children. Their opponent, the national teachers union, spent at least one dollar from every teacher in the country to defeat this effort in Utah . That's not exactly what I would call a fair fight."

Andrew LeFevre
Executive Director
REACH Foundation

For additional research and commentary on school reform, go to The Heartland Institute's Web site at, click on the "PolicyBot" button on the home page, and choose "Education" from the list of topics.

For further information about The Heartland Institute, please contact Harriette Johnson, media relations manager, at 312/377-4000, or email

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming ‘Greatest Scam in History’

There is a ton of well researched articles out there as to why global warming is indeed a scam the hypocrisy of those promoting global warming should be proof that even they do not believe their own propaganda.

The following article appeared at

Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming ‘Greatest Scam in History’

By Noel Sheppard | November 7, 2007 - 17:58 ET

If the founder of The Weather Channel spoke out strongly against the manmade global warming myth, might media members notice?

We're going to find out the answer to that question soon, for John Coleman wrote an article published at ICECAP Wednesday that should certainly garner attention from press members -- assuming journalism hasn't been completely replaced by propagandist activism, that is.

Coleman marvelously began:

It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create in [sic] allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the "research" to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild "scientific" scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmental conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minutes documentary segment.


I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious.

Let's hope so, John; let's hope so.

Related articles:

Harvard Paper Calls Al Gore a Hypocrite

Renowned Environmentalist Calls Biofuels‘Crime Against Humanity’

John Stossel: ‘Don’t Look to Government to Cool Down the Planet’

UN Climate Panel to Discuss Global Warming at Tropical Resort

Global Warming Tutorial Media Should be Required to Watch
Vote for Stephen McIntyre's Climate Audit as Best Science Blog

—Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and Associate Editor of NewsBusters.

What is even more troublesome is that "educators" including those that should know better "science teachers" spread this propaganda to our children. As noted in the article below which appeared in the Marin Independent Journal.

Elementary school students join fight against global warming
Joe Wolfcale
Article Launched: 11/07/2007 04:26:50 PM PST

Third-grade teacher Debbie Robles made her acting debut before a packed auditorium of youngsters at Rancho Elementary School in Novato. She bombed.
Playing the villain in a school assembly Wednesday aimed at educating the students about global warming, Robles - dressed in a witch's black attire and prancing around the auditorium as "Queen Carbon" - drew the biggest response from more than 500 students who attended two "Curb Your Carbon" assemblies.

"My own daughter Hannah asked me, 'Do you have to be my mother today?'" Robles said.

Teachers, parents and volunteers helped organize the assemblies and participated in the skits to help raise awareness about global warming and what people can do about it - exchanging traditional light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, for example.

School officials distributed more than 500 CFLs last week.

On Friday, Rancho students will be given bilingual "Cancel-a-Car" coupon books filled with ways they can fight global warming.

Once the coupons are returned to school, teachers will track what conservation efforts are made and the date. Teachers will help monitor the progress. As the carbon reduction increases, images of cars will be crossed out on a giant poster kept at school.

To view the full article visit the Marin Independent Journal website.

Too many schools fail to education our children in basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, yet the global warming scam is forced feed to this very vulnerable audience we call public education students.

There is no doubt we will face and energy crisis and alternative fuels must be found. Schools should be working on producing great thinkers and scientist not students so poor in science skills and logic skills that they believe the global warming scam.

For more information on the subject go to the following link.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Delay the big K: The kindergarten shuffle

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader.
. Bravo to the Union Leader editorial staff for understanding that "The assumption that kindergarten is a universal good is wrong " and the accompanying research. Also bravo for their bold statements "Contrary to popular belief, our children might be better off delaying kindergarten until age 6, attending for only half a day, or skipping it entirely " and
"Legislators should repeal the kindergarten mandate. Barring that, they should delay its deadline indefinitely. Then delay it again. And again. And again . . ."

Unfortunately this will not be resolved anytime soon as the teachers' unions, administrative associations and other school employees are too powerful. Also many legislators are educrats and retired educrats. Sadly years of propagandizing students and parents have lead them to believe something that just is not true. Unfortunately schools serve their employees more than they serve their students and taxpayers. Until parents and taxpayers wise up and stop being so apathetic educrats, teachers and school employees will have the upper-hand.

Delay the big K: The kindergarten shuffle

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007

ONLY 11 New Hampshire school districts offer no public kindergarten. Why? Because they chose not to. And that's just fine.

This year legislators mandated that every school district had to provide public kindergarten. The Legislature set a September 2008 deadline for those 11 districts to comply. That's a quick turnaround time for school construction projects. The New Hampshire School Administrators Association asked that the deadline be extended to 2012. Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy would have none of that.

"They've all had opportunities to implement kindergarten," he said. "Some districts have had other priorities."

That's true. And who does Lyonel Tracy think he is to tell them that their priorities are wrong?

The assumption that kindergarten is a universal good is wrong. "Attendance in a full-day kindergarten program had little effect on reading achievement but was negatively associated with mathematics achievement and the development of nonacademic school readiness skills," a study by the Rand Corporation found last year. By fifth grade, kids who went to full-day kindergarten did worse in math than their counterparts who went to half-day kindergarten and had worse interpersonal skills, "poorer dispositions toward learning," and less self-control.

"This study reinforces the findings of earlier studies that suggest full-day kindergarten programs may not enhance achievement in the long term," the study concluded.

Contrary to popular belief, our children might be better off delaying kindergarten until age 6, attending for only half a day, or skipping it entirely.

The state's implication that kindergarten is a guaranteed benefit is not supported by the research. Whether to offer that extra grade, which is of dubious use, should be made at the district level, not in Concord.

Legislators should repeal the kindergarten mandate. Barring that, they should delay its deadline indefinitely. Then delay it again. And again. And again . . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kids in limbo: Manchester's waiting 77

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader
on November 6, 2007. This is yet another example as to how teachers' unions put their greed ahead of the need of the very children they are to teach.

Kids in limbo: Manchester's waiting 77

THE PARENTS of 100 Manchester elementary school children requested transfers from schools labeled "In Need of Improvement" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to those that made their "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) goals. The district allowed only 23 of those children to transfer, meaning that 77 kids are stuck in schools their parents think are not serving them well. That is unacceptable.

Under NCLB, parents are allowed to transfer their children to another public school if theirs accepts federal Title 1 funds for free and reduced-priced lunches and fails to make AYP two years in a row. Of Manchester's 14 elementary schools, 12 were labeled "In Need of Improvement" this year. Only Jewett and Weston were not.

That left 100 kids wanting spots in only two schools. The district said there was not enough room. It let in 23 and put the 77 others on a waiting list.

But why should children have to wait to get the quality education they need?

Granted, the district is correct that not every school on the "In Need of Improvement" list can fairly be labeled a failing school. But if parents believe their children need a different environment in which to learn, they should not have to wait for it.

If New Hampshire had a school choice law, those 77 elementary school students would not have to wait.

A good school choice program would benefit those students and the schools they leave. Most programs give parents a voucher worth a few thousand dollars, far less than the total amount the public school spends on each child. If the child transfers, the school pockets the difference.

That gets the child into an environment his parents prefer, and leaves the public school more money to spend on its remaining students. Everybody wins.

But the teachers unions don't want parents to be allowed to pick schools. It undercuts the unions' power. So every time school choice bills come up in Concord, legislators kill them.

As a result, 77 Manchester elementary school students are stuck in schools labeled "In Need of Improvement" while their parents wait helplessly for the district to find space in the city's two remaining elementary schools that met their AYP goals.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

There's nothing progressive about blocking vouchers

The following piece appeared in Daily Herald and a number of other newspapers. Our favorite line " What will defenders of that idea -- former liberals, now progressives -- call themselves next? Surely not "pro-choice."

This is another great piece how teachers' unions put their greed above what is best for America's children.

There's nothing progressive about blocking vouchers
By George Will | Columnist
Published: 11/1/2007 12:27 AM
In today's political taxonomy, "progressives" are rebranded liberals dodging the damage they did to their old label. Perhaps their most injurious idea -- injurious to themselves and public schools -- was the forced busing of (mostly other peoples') children to engineer "racial balance" in public schools. Soon, liberals will need a third label if people notice what "progressives" are up to in Utah.

There, teachers unions are waging an expensive campaign to overturn the right of parents to choose among competing schools, public and private, for the best education for their children. Utahans next week will decide by referendum whether to retain or jettison the nation's broadest school choice program. Passed last February, the Parent Choice in Education Act would make a voucher available to any public school child who transfers to a private school, and to current private school children from low-income families. Opponents of school choice rushed to force a referendum on the new law, which is suspended pending the vote.

The vouchers would vary in value from $500 to $3,000, depending on household income. The teachers unions' usual argument against school choice programs is that they drain money from public education. But the vouchers are funded by general revenues, not the two sources of public school funds, which are local property taxes and the Uniform School Fund. And every Utah voucher increases funds available for public education. Here is how:

Utah spends more than $7,500 per public school pupil ($3,000 more than the average private school tuition). The average voucher will be for less than $2,000. So every voucher used -- by parents willing to receive $2,000 rather than $7,500 of government support for educating their child -- will save Utah taxpayers an average of $5,500. And because the vouchers are paid from general revenues, the departed pupil's $7,500 stays in the public school system.

Furthermore, booming Utah, which has about 540,000 public school pupils and the nation's largest class sizes, expects to have at least 150,000 more than that a decade from now. By empowering parents to choose private alternatives, the voucher program will save Utah taxpayers millions of dollars in school construction expenses.

Opponents argue that it will produce less racially and socially diverse schools. But because students are assigned to public schools based on where they live, and because residential patterns reflect income, most of Utah's public schools are either mostly wealthy and white or mostly nonwealthy and nonwhite. Utah's Office of Education reports that the state's private schools -- which are operating one-third below full enrollment -- have a higher percentage of nonwhites than do public schools.

Public filings showed that by September the National Education Association, the megalobbyist for the public education near-monopoly, had already spent $1.5 million to support repeal of the voucher program. Intellectually bankrupt but flush with cash, teachers unions continue to push threadbare arguments, undeterred by the fact that Utah's vouchers will increase per-pupil spending and lower class sizes in public schools. Why the perverse perseverance? Fear of competition and desire for the maximum number of dues-paying public school teachers.

Utah is among the most supportive states regarding public education: It has the fifth-highest proportion of K through 12 students in public schools. Nevertheless, Utah voters can strike a blow against the idea that education should remain the most important sector of American life shielded from the improving force of competition. What will defenders of that idea -- former liberals, now progressives -- call themselves next? Surely not "pro-choice."

© 2007, Washington Post Writers Group

Quote of the Day

"Parents should be empowered to take responsibility for their child’s education because parents understand their children better than government bureaucrats do." Mayor Giuliani’s Remarks At The Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, Washington, D.C., 10/20/07

Monday, October 29, 2007

Origins & History of American Compulsory Schooling - An Interview with John Taylor Gatto

After nearly 30 years in the public schools, John Taylor Gatto has quit his job as a schoolteacher to become one of the country's most articulate critics of American education. The author of Dumbing Us Down currently lives in New York City, where he is working on a book about the history of compulsory education called The Empty Child.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with John Taylor Gatto. To read the whole interview go to the Flatland Books website.

Martin: In Dumbing Us Down, you speak of education as almost mind control and the conscious effort to keep people stupid.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

School employee can't be his employer's boss

The following editorial appeared in the Concord Monitor. The editorial below makes two great points first it asks the question "Can a school district employee sit on a school board?" The question is yes and we agree with the conclusions of the monitor staff that legislators should clean up the language of the law that this should not be allowed to happen. Legislators should take it one step further and say that spouses of school employees should not be allowed to serve on school boards either. Clearly a person with a spouse working as a school employee has a conflict of interest and will more than likely put the spouses needs ahead of taxpayers and the children school employees are to serve.

School employee can't be his employer's boss

Can a school district employee sit on a school board? Strangely, state law is murky - and it's causing unnecessary headaches in this season's Concord School Board race.

Tim Patoine is among eight candidates for three seats on the board in next month's election. He is also a school bus driver.

There's nothing in the district charter that prevents him from doing both at once. But state statute prohibits people "employed on a salaried basis" by a school district to serve on that district's board of education.

Patoine argues that he is paid by the hour - and therefore is not a "salaried" employee.

But the law goes on to say: "Salaried positions shall include, but are not limited to, the following: teacher, custodian, administrator, secretary, school bus driver (if paid by the district), school lunch worker and teacher's aide."

Surely the Legislature's intent was to avoid the clear conflict of interest that exists when someone drawing a paycheck from the school district is also setting school district pay policies. Lawmakers did not want school employees reviewing the performance of their supervisors or determining what sort of annual pay raises they should receive.
They did not want the school bus driver to be the boss of the superintendent who is, of course, his boss.

Patoine is a sympathetic figure. He is a bright, energetic school board candidate whose knowledge of the district and its challenges is informed by the very job that should keep him from serving.

Regardless, despite their messy law-drafting, state lawmakers were right.

Two things should happen now.

Most important: The Legislature should quickly clean up the language of the law, making clear that it applies to all school district employees, whether "salaried" or hourly workers. A member of Concord's delegation should make this a priority.

Second: Patoine should either quit the school board race or assure Concord voters that if he stays in the race and wins he will promptly quit his bus-driving job. He should not be allowed to hold both positions - and voters should not be faced with financing a special election to fill his seat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Worse Than You Think

The below article solidifies are stance on why vouchers are so important for the children of Croydon and SAU 43. As reported by our superintendent at lasts months school board meeting about 2/3 of our students are performing at or above proficient level on performance. He seemed satisfied with this level. That means 1/3 of the children are being left behind. Parents should at least have the option of choice many may still may choose Croydon schools and SAU 43 schools but parents should have options. If a person is on food stamps they are not required to shop at only one store. If a person is on medicare or medicaid they are not restricted to one hospital or doctor. It is time we push forward in the 21st century. We in Croydon need to think outside the box.

The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Worse Than You Think
WSJ: October 24, 2007; Page A20

Proponents of educational choice tend to focus on the underprivileged, which is understandable given that low-income kids are overrepresented in failing inner-city public schools. But an emphasis on the plight of the poor can leave the impression that middle-class public school students are doing fine. And that would be a false impression, according to a new book-length study by the Pacific Research Institute, "Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle-Class Needs School Choice."

Conventional wisdom holds that upscale communities tend to have "good" schools, and parents often buy homes in expensive neighborhoods so their kids have a shot at a decent public education. But the PRI study, which focused on California, found that in nearly 300 schools in middle-class and affluent neighborhoods, "less than half of the students in at least one grade level performed at proficiency in state math and English tests."

Many of these schools were located in the Golden State's toniest zip codes, places like Orange County, Silicon Valley and the beach communities of Los Angeles. In areas such as Newport Beach, Capistrano and Huntington Beach, where million-dollar houses are commonplace, researchers found more than a dozen schools where 50% to 80% of students weren't proficient in math at their grade level. In one Silicon Valley community where the median home goes for $1.6 million, less than half of 10th and 11th graders scored at or above proficiency on the state English exam.

Schools serving middle-income kids are also doing a poor job of preparing them for higher education. Some 60% of freshmen in the California State University system need remedial courses. And it's not because they grew up in Watts. At Dos Pueblos High School in ritzy Santa Barbara, only 28% of high school juniors tested college-ready for English in 2006, slightly better than the 23% of students who did so at San Marin High School in Marin County, where the median home price recently hit $1 million.

"Many middle-class parents don't think they have a stake in the school-choice debate," says Lance Izumi, the lead author of the study, in an interview. "They assume their schools are doing better than they are." In reality, these families would benefit from vouchers, tuition tax credits, charter schools and other educational options as surely as the inner-city single mom.

And the competitive pressure would help make the surrounding public schools better. "When you show people in these communities how their schools aren't doing so well, how they're not getting the bang for their buck," says Mr. Izumi, "they can begin to see how the debate over school choice affects them, too."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Teacher Unions: Enemies of Reform

One of the main groups behind the lawsuits in Claremont and Londonderry were the teachers unions. The end result of the lawsuits is CACR 18 which will lead to a broad base income tax without any reduction in property taxes. The article below is from the Education Policy website
and requires no further explanation.

The Teacher Unions: Enemies of Reform

by Charlene K. Haar, EPI President
From the school house to the White House, the teacher unions are the most formidable foes of meaningful education reforms -- reforms, which I believe are necessary to achieve superior educational outcomes for children at lower costs to parents and other taxpayers through competition.

Despite their rhetoric, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, like other labor unions, were established to redistribute income from employers to employees and the unions. There is no incentive to reduce costs when taxpayers must pay upon demand. There is no reason to excel when the best employees are paid what the worst are paid. For decades, the NEA/AFT have negotiated highly inefficient contracts covering such items as

*hours of employment and compensation
*teacher work load and duties
*teacher qualifications
*teaching assignments and seniority
*teacher evaluation and tenure
*taxpayer subsidies to the unions, such as paid time off for union work, use of school mail system, payroll deduction for dues and NEA/AFT PACs at no cost to the unions, and retirement credit for full-time service as a union employee.

With incredible specificity, the teacher union/school district contract heavily influences the day-to-day operations and morale of a school. In their study, researchers Howard Fuller, George Mitchell and Michael Hartmann reveal that the 174-page contract between the Milwaukee Public System and Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, is an almost "impenetrable document". Making it even more complicated, they discovered "...a 'contract behind the contract' comprised of nearly 2,000 amendments ('memoranda of understanding'), grievance-arbitration rulings, and various state declaratory rulings."

Like legislators who don't read a bill before voting on it, neither school board members nor teachers are likely to read the labor union contract. However, highly paid union officials and political operatives, known in the NEA as UniServ directors, not only read the contracts, but craft them. The AFT local officers negotiate AFT affiliate contracts, sometimes with the assistance of AFT national representatives.

Consequently, with no competition and no incentives for excellence, teacher unions have a government school monopoly which constantly seeks increased taxes and more government expenditures for teachers and union bureaucracies. In fact, union bureaucracies benefit more than teacher union members according to Myron Lieberman. In The Teacher Unions (Free Press, 1997), Lieberman points out that over 3,000 NEA/AFT staffers earn more than $100,000 a year in salary and benefits. It is these highly paid negotiators/political operatives who insist on maintaining the current system. And their job security comes partly from crafting a document that most citizens cannot decipher. Teacher union control of the process is the result of nearly four decades of political power during which the teacher unions have successfully pressured elected lawmakers and school board members to shape education policies, laws, and contracts in their favor.

Teacher union contracts, policies, and laws exclude or severely restrict parental involvement. Because it is completely subservient to the teacher unions, even the National Congress of Parents and Teachers will not speak up for parental interests when teacher union interests are at stake. Almost 30 years ago, the PTA leadership adopted a position of "neutrality" on teacher strikes and terms and conditions of employment negotiated in teacher union contracts. As often happens in negotiations, school boards sacrifice parent interests to teacher union interests. As a result, parents are relegated to fundraising or helping teachers. As the purported representative of children's best interests, the PTA has failed.

With continued talk about parent representation on site-based management councils, parents need reliable, accurate information about how to review school budgets, curricula, contract provisions, personnel evaluations, and other data. In some ways, local parent groups (PTOs) can be more effective than the PTA, but lack the necessary training to become effective leaders.

Who can help roll back teacher union power? Taxpayer and small business groups, which already have expertise in these areas, could expand their watchdog activities and provide training to parents interested in challenging the status quo. Persistent school boards can cut out taxpayer subsidies to the NEA/AFT. Lawmakers can eliminate legislation which micromanages education and school boards. Instead, they should provide a framework within which real competition takes place, thereby permitting and encouraging

*subcontracting with private providers for delivery of services,
*for-profit schools,
*charter schools with liberal waivers and flexibility,
*universal vouchers, or
*any combination of the above to offer superior educational opportunities to children and efficiency and choice to their parents.

The frustration of long-ignored parents is manifesting itself in the profusion of charter and for-profit schools that do not have school boards, negotiators, teacher unions, or PTAs. What these schools do have are effective, engaged parents in independent PTOs, and enthusiastic teachers unleashed from contract restrictions. Were such coalitions armed with more knowledge about the workings of the teacher unions and the weaknesses of the PTA, imagine what they could accomplish.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

N.H. teacher screening system lets some abusers slip through

Yet another reason for school choice....the safety of our children. The following article appeared in the Concord Monitor via the AP.

N.H. teacher screening system lets some abusers slip through

Associated Press Writer

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- When it comes to keeping risky teachers out of New Hampshire classrooms, background checks and other screening tools can miss crucial warning signs.

"I think it's a 'B,'" said Henry LaBranche, who dealt with several cases of teacher misconduct in more than 30 years as a school superintendent. "Even within our own protocols there are ways in which you could fall through the cracks."

Between 2001 and 2005, with an average of 18,488 credentialed teachers in the state, the state Department of Education revoked the credentials of 22 teachers. Nine of those involved allegations of sexual misconduct, including child pornography and sexual assault, according to state records, news reports and court documents.

New Hampshire's figures were gathered as part of a seven-month investigation in which Associated Press reporters sought records on teacher discipline in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Across the country, sexual misconduct allegations led states to take action against the licenses of 2,570 educators from 2001 through 2005. That figure includes licenses that were revoked, denied and surrendered.

Young people were victims in at least 69 percent of the cases, and the large majority of those were students.

Nine out of 10 of those abusive educators were male. And at least 446 of the abusive teachers had multiple victims.

There are about 3 million public school teachers in the United States.

In New Hampshire, prospective school volunteers and employees must pass state and FBI criminal background checks. An investigator working for the state is obliged to look into all complaints about teachers, and has about 100 cases going on at all times.

"I think we have a good system, certainly in this state, for tracking down complaints," said Judith Fillion, director of teacher standards and certification for the department. "I wouldn't say that I'm frustrated by it. I think we do due diligence."

But others familiar with the screening system say its limitations can protect offenders and hamstring those trying to weed them out.

"I think it works real well if you happen to have been adjudicated," said Paul Cooper, personnel director for seven Keene-area school districts. "It doesn't work real well if you've got an allegation or something that hasn't been adjudicated, or if you dodged whatever bullet."

Some of the flaws:

- Criminal background checks that don't cover less serious but still worrisome crimes

- Incomplete criminal records

- Criminal and education records effectively sanitized through plea-bargains and other negotiations

- Privacy laws and fear of lawsuits that limit the disclosure of adverse information, not only by former employers but by law enforcement

- Difficulty prosecuting teachers accused of sexual relationships with students over the age of consent

A background check did not catch that Kevin J. Corrigan had been charged with making harassing phone calls to a college student in Massachusetts when he was hired as a language arts teacher and coach at Woodbury Middle School in Salem in 2001. His teaching career didn't unravel until he was arrested in June 2002 in Kingston and charged with harassing and assaulting a teenage girl. Only then did officials learn that Corrigan was on probation in Massachusetts on terms that barred him from coaching children younger than 16. A plea deal kept the charges off his record.

After his New Hampshire arrest, parents learned that during his first year in Salem, Corrigan had been disciplined for inappropriately touching a female student, and that others had complained of feeling uncomfortable around him.

LaBranche, then superintendent in Salem, said the incident jolted awake educators who had put their faith in a system that turned out to have significant shortcomings.

"At the time ... we only had a narrow perspective in terms of what the background history and check was," he said. "It wasn't until those types of experiences happened that we realized that the system didn't have the in-depth check that we initially assumed it had."

Corrigan had mentioned a Massachusetts arrest during his interview for the Salem job. But officials said he left out details, and they accepted his explanation that the arrest was over annoying phone calls to a woman he had been involved with. They decided the incident would not affect his performance in the classroom.

In hindsight, that was a mistake. "That's a red flag we should have paid attention to. Much closer attention to," said LaBranche, now Salem's town manager. After Corrigan, Salem schools expanded their vetting process beyond standard criminal background and reference checks, on occasion hiring private investigators to dig into candidates' histories.

Corrigan now lives in North Carolina. Reached by telephone, he said he no longer teaches and declined to be interviewed for this article.

Even if Corrigan's record had been available, it might not have made a difference. New Hampshire law would have prevented school officials from knowing that Corrigan twice pleaded guilty in Massachusetts to making harassing phone calls to young women. New Hampshire law requires applicants be checked for a range of serious crimes - including murder, kidnapping, rape, sexual assault and child pornography - but not lesser offenses like harassment, which still might concern school officials.

"I routinely tell people, 'Do not put all your hiring eggs in my basket. We're just a small part of the puzzle. ... Go with your gut feelings," said Jeffrey Kellett, chief administrator of criminal records for the New Hampshire State Police. "If there are red flags that pop up through the usual application process or interviewing process, follow those."

Kellett's office conducts state and FBI background checks for school districts. He is barred by law from giving school officials the specifics of a person's criminal record, and can only say whether it contains an offense that would disqualify someone from being hired.

"It's a range and they have no idea. We are prevented by statute from divulging exactly what the information is," he said.

Because not all states report into a federal criminal records database, background checks don't always turn up everything that is reportable.

"If you're looking for the full history on someone you could have to run several searches - and again, that's only going to give you the public record. If a file has been sealed or an offense has been annulled or expunged off someone's record, you're never going to find that information," said Thomas Velardi, a Strafford County prosecutor who has experience with teacher misconduct cases.

"Whatever the school systems are doing they seem to be doing it well enough to forestall these types of issues from happening, but obviously any agency can always do a better job," he said. "And even the most diligent background screeners are going to miss people's intentions which are formed after the date" they are hired.

Access to information is limited in other areas, too. For example, state law prevents state police from telling prospective employers whether former middle school teacher Tracy Kukesh followed through with the terms of a plea deal and registered as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty in 2002 to misdemeanor sexual assault involving a student. (Kukesh did lose his teaching credentials.) That's because only two-thirds of New Hampshire's sex-offender registry is public. The remaining third, including those convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, is confidential. State police are barred from saying who's on it, let alone why.

"It's protecting the offenders' privacy. We've been banging our heads against the wall for years," said Jill Rockey, a state trooper who works on the registry.

Because every state's registry requirements are different, offenders can avoid registration by moving to a state with more favorable rules. A new federal law aims to set national standards for registries, but it will be three years before New Hampshire is in compliance, Rockey said.

Revocation records kept by the state Education Department also can be misleading. Of the 22 credentials revoked (or surrendered in the face of revocation) between 2001 and 2005, sexual misconduct is overtly mentioned in only three cases - one each for child pornography, sexual assault of a student and sexual misconduct with students. The six other sexual misconduct cases were confirmed independently of state records.

"Left the field of education" is the official reason given for teacher Dennis P. Sheehan's revocation in October 2005. The Education Department's public record omits the details: that Sheehan was fired from Londonderry High School in 1999 over allegations he fondled himself in front of two students. Acquitted of lewdness and indecent exposure charges, Sheehan lost his job but hung onto his teaching license and was hired to teach at Methuen High School in Massachusetts. That lasted until 2003, when he again became the target of misconduct allegations. Again, he was acquitted.

In a brief telephone interview, Sheehan said he gave up his teaching credential after the second acquittal.

"I just got disgusted with the whole thing. Won both court cases and just said I can't go through with that again, so I turned it in," he said.

Revocation records can be misleading because teachers who surrender their credentials before their cases go to hearings can work out deals to limit what becomes public.

"When we make the agreement about what the revocation says, we do it in conjunction with their attorney," Fillion said. The rest of the information is sealed, so that labels like "inappropriate" and "unprofessional" conduct may cover a range of accusations and misdeeds - "all the way up to sex," she said. The state does not differentiate between credentials that are revoked and those that are surrendered.

School officials say the vast majority of teachers behave professionally, and warn that even the most transparent records and most thorough investigations would not guarantee schools free of predators.

But as further insurance against problems, some districts take precautions to protect teachers and students alike from accusations of misconduct.

For example, Londonderry passed an anti-fraternization policy in 2002, a year after high school teacher Timothy Masse was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student. (He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of simple assault.) The policy governs teacher-student relationships ranging from physical contact to e-mails.

Marie Ross, superintendent of the Newfound Area School District, says she advises teachers and coaches to avoid driving students in their cars. If they do, she urges them to drive more than one student at a time, and to make sure students stay in the back seat.

"You need to make judgment calls and I will always make a judgment call that that errs on the side of caution," she said.

NEA goes after Vermont

In the below article, what Reg Weaver really means is "We will continue to fight against anything that denies our union leadership the opportunity to access the wealth of money still left in the hands of taxpayers because we do believe that taking other people's money is our union's basic right". Any law that keeps the NEA out of our pockets has to be a good one. Go get 'em Vermont, you've been ripped off by these educrats long enough!

Why is it that the Comrades next door in Vermont have been able to put a cap on Big Ed spending and our leaders in Concord just passed legislation that will create a spending boom and decrease the current quality of education our children receive.

The below article appeared in the Eagle Times on October 21, 2007. Bravo to the Eagle Times!

NEA goes after Vermont
There is something ironic about the National Education Association coming after the state of Vermont for its latest effort to solve the problem of the soaring cost of education in grades K-12.

Act 82, an offspring of Act 60 and Act 68, was passed during the last legislative session and is scheduled to take effect next year. While it's a complicated law like its predecessors, it boils down to a state-imposed limit on education spending in local communities. Spend more than what the state says you can and you must go back to voters for a supplemental budget. And that is what has the NEA in a tizzy.

"We will continue to fight against anything that denies young people the opportunity to have access to a great public school because we do believe that it's a basic right," said Reg Weaver of the NEA at a Vermont-NEA convention last week.

Vermont legislators, of course, like to claim that it got down to business 10 years ago when the state Supreme Court ruled that it needed a more equitable system to fund education so students in property poor towns did not get less money because of where they live. But neither Act 60 nor 68 did the trick and with no end in sight to the oppressive property tax burden caused by higher and higher education spending, the Legislature finally got wise and decided to cap spending with Act 82.

New Hampshire, meanwhile, still has not come up with anything that would put an end to protracted court battles. One would have thought New Hampshire's lack of action would have brought the wrath of the NEA.

But the NEA does not seem genuinely interested in anything that actually makes our public schools better; it only wants to ensure nothing stops the continual flow of money that goes into them. New Hampshire has not tried that at the state level; Vermont has.

According to an Associated Press report, Vermont spends an average of $11,000 per student or $1.3 billion a year. Vermont-NEA's president says spending limits do not improve education; apparently unlimited spending doesn't either.

When the Legislature reconvenes in January both Democrats and Republicans should stand their ground and not let the NEA bully them into stripping Act 82 of its intent to help taxpayers handle higher and higher education costs. It certainly won't hurt the schools.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hidden Violations

Scott Reeder a brilliant investigative reporter and Small Newspaper Group Springfield bureau chief. Sent us the following note. Although the information below pertains to Illinois I will follow-up to see if he has information pertaining to New Hampshire.

Jim and Cathy,

I remember a 1 ½ years ago you were interested in an investigation I conducted of teacher tenure in Illinois. I thought you might be interested in a sequel to the series that began running today.

I’ve been working on this national investigation for the last seven months. I filed open records requests with all 50 state departments of education and obtained lists of all teachers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked in the last decade. I inputted the data into spreadsheets and conducted an analysis to see how Illinois compares to other states.

Here are some key findings:

* Only Virginia revokes or suspends fewer teaching certificates than Illinois.

* No investigators are employed by the Illinois State Board of Education so reports of teacher misconduct are often not investigated or acted upon.

* Illinois teachers hired before 2004 have not had to undergo a state-mandated national criminal background check.

* Illinois physicians are 43 times more likely than the state’s teachers to have their license suspended or revoked.

* Illinois lawyers are 25 times more like than teacher to have their license suspended or revoked.

* None of the tenured Illinois teachers fired in the last decade have also lost their teaching certificate and certification officials are not notified when a school district disciplines an educator

The series can be viewed at: If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: (217) 525-8201.


We also recommend Scott's brilliant series about tenure for your reading pleasure. Although the series pertains to Illinois the basic premises pertain to any schools with tenure.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Newport School Information and SAU 43 Information.

Since Croydon schools funnel their children to Newport Schools after grade three it is important that Croydon parents and taxpayers be aware of what is happening in Newport Schools.

As a reminded the Newport School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be viewed by going to the Newport School website. Once there click on School Boards or SAU 43 to access the needed information.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New SAU 43 Organization Commitee Report

On September 27, 2007 there was a presentation at the Newport School Board meeting regarding the reorganization of SAU 43. We have obtained a copy of the presentation and will be glad to send the report on to anyone who requests the report.

The following was gleaned from the meeting: Although SAU 43 loss 51% of it's budget revenues from the withdrawal of Sunapee from the SAU, the SAU has no intention of cutting it's budget or staff by 51%. This maneuver will likely lead to deficit spending or increased taxes through future tax warrants. The report also points out a continual increase in spending despite a continual decrease in the student population.

Croydon's best move would be to also withdrawal from the SAU. Better yet Newport should get rid of the SAU completely. SAUs have not been around that long, at best they are bureaucratic organization that wastes money. There appears to be no reason that the tasks conducted by SAU's can not be conducted on school site with current staffing and administration. Unless of course the purpose is to waste as many tax dollars as possible and keep people feeding off the Big Ed Gravy Train.

Our schools continue to have a spending problem not a funding problem with no increase in student performance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CHECK THE FACTS: Selling adequacy, making millions

I finally got the chance to go to my first Croydon school board meeting. It was a real eye opener and I hope to attend more meetings on a regular basis from here on out.

A woman in the audience pointed out that her taxes went up from 300 dollars to when she first moved to Croydon to 3000 dollars the amount she is currently paying. Education spending in Croydon has out paced the rate of inflation without correlating improvement in student performance. Our goal over the next few months is to do some investigative reporting and report on said information here.

Along those lines we want to share with our readers a must read article regarding lawsuits bought on by organizations of which teachers belong. The following snippet appeared in the Hoover Institution's Education Next A Journal of Opinion and Research. The Sunapee School District is departing from SAU 43 this could mean bigger taxes for Croydon residents. In reality what should happen is the SAU should cut spending in proportion to the revenues lost by the departure of the Sunapee School District. On top of that we are facing income taxes as a result of adequacy lawsuits bought on by individuals that are to educate our children. It is really important for taxpayers and parents to become involved and try to reduce spending. If spending increases school employees will only have more power to continue to increase spending at rates far exceeding the rate of inflation meaning continually higher taxes in the future.

What Are States Paying For?

Cost estimates are an important component in the politics of court and legislative deliberations on schools. The adequacy debates are typically motivated by obvious and real shortfalls in the achievement of a state’s students, but a combination of naive concerned citizens and self-interested parties invariably pushes to translate these debates into a simple dollar figure. Such translation is salient for courts and legislatures and both simplifies and focuses the issue for the media.

What Picus and Odden provide in their reports is essentially a selective review of the published literature on program effects. Why do different states and organizations pay ever-increasing amounts to see this research review when Google would bring up the most recent version immediately and without expense? The answer is simple. Clients want a bottom-line statement about how much spending would provide an adequate education, and they want this cost estimate attached to their specific state. Few people care about the “studies” on which consultants base their reports, or even their validity, because nobody really expects schools to implement these specific programs if given extra funding. Clients simply want a requisite amount of scientific aura around the number that will become the rallying flag for political and legal actions.

Summing the added cost of the separate programs suggested by Picus and Odden, I estimate that the overall plan, if fully applied, would increase average spending in Washington by $1,760 to $2,760 per student, or 23 to 35 percent. This estimate of the increased spending necessary to achieve “adequacy” is very similar to the percentage increases they have recommended to other states, and numbers like these will presumably become part of the headlines surrounding the new court case.

But pity the poor states that actually implement the Picus and Odden plan. They are sure to be disappointed by the results, and most taxpayers (those who do not work for the schools) will be noticeably poorer.

Eric A. Hanushek is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a member of its Koret Task Force on K–12 Education.

To read the full article go to Hoover Institution's Education Next website.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Suing school districts unhappy with state's position

The article at the bottom of this post appeared in the Union Leader.

The only ones who are going to benefit from this court case our the employees of the school districts and any businesses doing business with the schools. This lawsuit is about one thing and one thing only, taking as much money out of our pockets and putting it into school employees pockets. Adequacy lawsuits never result in increased student performance. This is about greed not need. Our schools have a spending problem not a funding problem.

If only our congressmen and judges did a little research before handing done this insane decision students and taxpayers would have a brighter future.

The Confidence Men
By Eric Hanushek
Selling adequacy, making millions

Suing school districts unhappy with state's position
The Associated Press
Friday, Sep. 7, 2007

CONCORD – A coalition of towns suing New Hampshire over school funding wants the state Supreme Court to make lawmakers determine its cost and come up with a way to pay for it by June 30.

The coalition -- led by Londonderry -- is reacting to the state's request last month that the court dismiss the lawsuit without requiring it to come up with funding by next June.

The state argues that the Legislature has completed the first of four mandates set down by the court needed to settle the long battle over school funding -- defining an adequate education -- and is working on the second mandate -- determining its cost.

If the court decides not to dismiss the case, the state asked the court to put off any proceedings while lawmakers determine the cost of the state's share of school costs.

The towns want guarantees that whatever cost the Legislature settles on is funded next spring, not left to a future Legislature.

The latest arguments are in response to a July request by the court on whether the case should be sent back to the lower court.

The coalition said it would not push for the court to step in now if the state promised to fulfill the three remaining court mandates -- determine the state's cost, fund it and hold districts accountable to deliver it -- also by next June 30. The districts accepted the definition enacted by lawmakers.

The state only promised to determine the cost.

Now, the coalition is saying the state is failing to act in good faith.

"This inability or lack of desire to comply with a series of court rulings over the past 20 years is detrimental to the continued health and viability of the public education system and, in turn, the economy of our great state," the coalition said in a statement released Wednesday.

"Our good faith effort was that we defined an adequate education without regard to steps two, three and four and our good faith continues with the costing commission," House Speaker Terie Norelli responded yesterday.

The state has struggled over the school funding issue for years.

In 1991, Claremont and four other property-poor towns sued over the state's reliance on local property taxes to pay for schools. A series of Supreme Court decisions held that the state has a duty to provide an adequate education that is adequately funded.

A key 1997 ruling found the state's reliance on local property taxes for most school funding unconstitutional.

Last year, Londonderry and a group of towns won a lawsuit in superior court over the aid system put in place in 2005. The state appealed and the high court sided with the towns. (That funding system has since been replaced with an interim one to give lawmakers time to craft a better system.)

Last September, the court left the aid system in place but set the June 30, 2007, deadline for the state to define an adequate education. The court reiterated its four long-standing mandates that the state must meet to comply with the constitution: define an adequate education, price it, pay for it and hold towns accountable for delivering it. The court has said the amount need not be the same for every pupil, but emphatically rejected aid systems that help only selected towns.

Gov. John Lynch signed a law June 29 that defined adequacy. The definition includes subject areas, such as math and reading, without tying them to the hours taught or other specific cost components. It also mandates kindergarten.

Lynch would like to target aid to the neediest towns, but a constitutional amendment he needed to allow that died in the House this year. Senate Democrats tried to revive the amendment, but lacked the votes to pass it and decided to wait until January to try again. Lynch says he hasn't given up on putting an amendment before voters in November 2008.

A special legislative commission has just started working on determining the cost of adequacy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How far teachers unions will go to stop choice.

The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal
on August 29, 2007; Page A14. This article is a great reminder as to how important saving jobs is to the teachers' unions. The teachers unions are about protecting teacher's jobs. They do not care about our children and improving the public education system as to provide the best possible education for our children.

Voucher Showdown

The Utah legislature passed one of the nation's most far-sighted voucher laws in February, and the state teachers union is calling in the national cavalry to help repeal it in a November 6 referendum.

Last month Kim Campbell, the head of the Utah Education Association, schlepped all the way to Philadelphia to speak at a National Education Association convention, where she asked the board of directors for financial support to oppose school choice. Ms. Campbell promised that her campaign to defeat it "will be ugly, mean and expensive," and she needs the outside cash to overwhelm pro-voucher supporters in the state. Look for other liberal activists to pour cash into what will be the most significant state-wide ballot test for school choice in years.

The Utah union chief made her out-of-state trek, by the way, even as one of her spokesmen back home denounced the "river of money from out-of-state ideologues intent on starting a voucher experiment in Utah." Apparently, out-of-state contributions are only tainted when they're used to support something the teachers union opposes.

In any case, Ms. Campbell's plea didn't fall on deaf ears. Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a union watchdog, reported recently that the Utah union's $3 million request for its anti-voucher campaign was approved. The union's executive director wouldn't confirm or deny the amount when we inquired, but she did volunteer that "we're reaching out to the national affiliate for support and assistance, and we're hoping it will be significant." You can bet it will be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Panel examining cost of kindergarten start-ups

The article below our commentary appeared in the Union Leader.

First legislators and educrats want to mandate kindergarten and than they will want to mandate preschool. But are both even necessary and are they effective and cost efficient? Research generally shows the answers to these questions is no.

Essentially what you get is a waste of tax dollars with almost all gains lost by the third grade.

References materials to view.

Research Disputes Benefits of Early Education

A Fresh Start for Head Start.

The United States ranks 23rd in education performance in the world, despite spending more than any other nation. Most nations do not have kids start school until age 7. Imagine the billions of dollars we would save every year if we increased the age of formal education.

Panel examining cost of kindergarten start-ups
State House Bureau Chief

Concord – A special legislative panel on education costs will pay special attention to the costs of starting up kindergarten programs in 11 school districts.

A subcommittee will look closely at how the state should help the handful of districts that don't now offer kindergarten as they join the the 140 districts in the state that do offer it.

The 11-member committee began work yesterday on figuring the cost of the state's new definition of an adequate education. That definition, which lawmakers adopted just a few months ago, makes kindergartens a mandatory program in all school districts for the first time.

The state Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the state has an obligation to define an adequate education, figure out its cost and fund it. The work toward determining the cost has to be finished by Feb. 1, 2008. Then the state will have to figure out how to raise the extra money to pay that cost.

Total spending on public schools in grades K through 12 amounts to about $2.4 billion a year. Estimates are that the adequacy definition will require the state to supply about half that total. Current state funding for adequacy is about $800 million, significantly below the expected new cost.

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, pointed out that the law requires kindergarten programs to be in place by next September, but local school budgets won't be voted on until next March. That leaves little time for construction of new buildings or renovations of existing space, he said.

Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, said the subcommittee ought to consider whether private contractors can continue to offer kindergarten programs, at public expense, as a way to make the transition.

"Rather than make it 'one size fits all,' we may be able to work it out on a case-by-case basis," Weyler said.

New Hampshire will have 11 school districts that do not offer public kindergarten after next month, when Fremont and the Timberlane School District in Plaistow launch programs. Timberlane also includes the towns of Atkinson, Sandown and Danville.

Litchfield has approved a program, but has no fixed start-up date, according to the state Department of Education.

Those with no locally approved program are Auburn, Chester, Derry, Hudson, Lyndeborough, Milford, Pelham, Salem, Windham and the Mascenic district, which serves, Greenville, Mason and New Ipswich.

Sen. Iris Estabrook, D-Durham, and Rep. Emma Rous, D-Durham, will co-chair the commission. Plans are to bring in consultants, national legislative experts and the public before the committee begins to write its report.

The panel has to find a method of pinning down the cost of programs set out in the new definition, come up with a kindergarten transition program and a method for identifying school districts that need more aid than the average.

School spending rate increase unsustainable

The following piece appeared in the Concord Monitor.

Until legislation limits education spending increases to the rate of inflation or the CPI we will continue to see unsustainable spending. Schools have a spending problem and not a funding problem. How can we expect schools to teach our students math when they can not even figure out how to balance a budget. Schools should not be allowed to spend above the rate of inflation or deficit spend. Perhaps so many Americans are in debt because they learned how to spend from the best spenders of all educrats.

School spending rate increase unsustainable

Monitor staff
August 19. 2007

For a half century or so, public school spending in New Hampshire increased at the rate of 9 percent per year. Spending fell to about 4 percent during the recession of the 1990s but quickly resumed its historic growth rate. School spending is now increasing by 7.9 percent annually.
Later this month, the committee charged with determining the cost of an adequate education, as defined by the last session of the Legislature, will begin its work. It's not supposed to consider how the revenue to pay those costs will be raised. That's the Legislature's job. Anyone who does think about how to pay for public schools has to think about that seemingly inexorable 8 or 9 percent annual increase.

No revenue source increases by 9 percent per year on a regular basis, not even an income tax. Nor can growth in the state's economy keep pace. That means old taxes will have to be raised, new ones created or spending reduced.

It's not easy to put your finger on exactly why education spending has climbed so relentlessly. Mostly it's because it's a labor-intensive field, which means providing lots of people with health care and pensions whose costs have been rising rapidly.

The nature of education has also changed. Schools have been asked to meet more and more of children's needs. They now spend more than $50 million per year dealing with children's psychological and mental health problems. That makes them the single biggest provider of behavioral health services for youth. Because society has asked schools to do so much more, it takes more people to run them. A generation ago, an educational aide was a rarity. They are now a big part of the budget.

In coming decades, shrinking school populations could slow the increase in spending. Concord has nearly 5 percent fewer elementary school children than it did a half dozen years ago; Keene about one-fifth fewer. But having fewer students won't, on its own, be enough to make a big dent in that 9 percent annual increase.
Finding a way to run schools with fewer people while still providing a quality education would bring down spending. So would transferring services like behavioral health to another sector of government. But doing either may not be wise or politically achievable.

It's been a decade since the second Claremont school funding decision forced reforms in the way schools are funded, but little has been accomplished. Spending in wealthy towns is actually higher, when compared with the median, than it was in 1998 when the first reforms went into effect. The difference in how much property rich towns and poor towns must tax themselves to pay for schools is once again nearly five-to-one.

Changing that ratio, which was one of the goals of the original lawsuit, will require either a new source of revenue or an increase in the number of donor towns that pay more in statewide property taxes than they get back in education aid.

But bad things could happen if the statewide property tax is raised enough to truly fund education adequately. If property tax bills continue to grow faster than most household incomes, which have been flat for nearly a decade, the young won't be able to afford homes or the old to stay in them. The lack of young workers would threaten the state's economy.

Two things could alter this picture. A higher statewide property tax could come with a circuit breaker of some sort and exempt, for example, the first $100,000 in the value of a primary residence. That would pass the bill on to businesses and second home owners.

An income tax, as we said earlier, won't raise enough to keep pace with school spending without being confiscatory. But it would come closer.

The wages used to pay property taxes only increase by 2 or 3 percent per year. But an income tax, since it would capture wage increases plus revenue from interest and dividends and capital gains would grow a bit faster say 5 percent. The state would still be in a hole and digging, but the dirt wouldn't be flying as fast.

In the end, it all comes down to that 9 percent. If it's a constant, like pi or the speed of light, there may be no way to catch up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Greed, Greed, Greed

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader.

Looks like our only saving grace is changing the make up of the House and Senate. As long as our legislators insist on pandering to educrats instead of doing what is best for New Hampshire's children and taxpayers we are at risk for increased taxes and increased educational spending. Public schools are GOVERNMENT schools and are plagued with corruption, wasteful spending and patronage just like all other forms of government. The only solution is choice.

Losing Londonderry: State caves to the towns

THE STATE last week asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to dismiss Londonderry's school funding lawsuit, the remnants of Claremont. That might sound like a relief, but it is far from it.

The Londonderry lawsuit towns, successors to the towns that sued the state in 1991 in the Claremont education funding case, say they are satisfied that the state is following through on the court's mandate to define and fund an adequate education. The state says that because it is complying with the last court ruling, the case can be dismissed.

In short, the state has conceded. The dismissal request means the state has agreed that it is constitutionally obligated to define and fund an "adequate education."

And that means that taxpayers are on the hook for a bundle. The total amount? That's yet to be determined. Legislators this summer passed a law obligating the state to pay for a slew of new services, but they attached no price tag. That comes later.

The only saving grace is that Gov. John Lynch remains determined to target state aid to needy districts. If he can push through a constitutional amendment to allow that (the Supreme Court outlawed it in the Londonderry ruling), taxpayers won't be on the hook for quite as much money as they are now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Suit Drop but the Damage is Done.

The following article appeared in the Union Leader.

My favorite line in the story below is "Fifteen participating towns and school districts gave almost $160,000 of public money toward legal expenses for the case. NHCafe plans to ask the court to award that money back to it, so the money can be held in a "war chest" in case more legal action is needed, Young said." War it is, educrats are more concerned about money and protecting their entitlement program called public education. Our education system is no longer public it is been hijacked by the educrats and unions who want to divert control from the local level to the state level. State control means these greedy people only have to persuade legislators to feed their insatiable thirst for money rather than having to persuade voters locally. No matter how much money we give these people it will never be enough.

We wonder how many taxpayers in these communities agreed to have their own tax dollars used against them to have their tax dollars raised in the future.

Group agrees to drop education suit
Union Leader Correspondent
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007

LONDONDERRY – A coalition of communities has agreed to dismiss its long-standing court case against the state over adequate education.

Three years after suing the state to define, cost out, fund and hold local schools responsible for an adequate education, the New Hampshire Communities for Adequate Funding of Education (NHCafe) said it believes the Legislature will act within a year to complete mandates set by the Supreme Court.

"What they have done, in our opinion, is made a good faith effort to define an adequate education," said Steve Young, president of the watchdog group representing Londonderry, Merrimack and other communities.

►Legislature defines an adequate education

He said his group believes the Legislature will be able to put a price on its new definition of an adequate education by February and determine a way to fund it by that June.

"We think the Legislature and governor will act during the upcoming legislative session to address the remaining mandates," said Nate Greenberg, Londonderry superintendent of schools.

"But if they act in a manner that we believe is unlawful, or that we believe they fail to act, we have asked that we retain the right to bring further legal action."

Young said the decision to drop the case came after the Supreme Court asked for the group's opinion while trying to decide if the case should be remanded to the Superior Court for further examination. If that were to happen, the Superior Court would have had the power to figure out the full cost and funding mechanism needed to pay for the Legislature's definition of education.

Young said he hopes the Legislature will be a better arena for that decision to be made.

"We think this is the best way for the entire state of New Hampshire, especially the children," he said.

"By June 30 of next year, we may actually have a bill that adequately funds education that the average man on the street can understand."

Fifteen participating towns and school districts gave almost $160,000 of public money toward legal expenses for the case. NHCafe plans to ask the court to award that money back to it, so the money can be held in a "war chest" in case more legal action is needed, Young said.

NHCafe members and their contribution amounts are the town of Amherst, $5,000; Amherst SAU 39, $6,800; Auburn SAU 15, $4,000; Candia SAU 15, $2,400; Concord SAU 8, $10,000; Dover SAU 11, $5,000; Hampstead SAU 55, $15,000; Hooksett SAU 15, $8,280; Londonderry SAU 12, $20,000; town of Londonderry, $10,000; Merrimack SAU 26, $20,000; town of Merrimack, $10,000; Nottingham SAU 44, $1,500; Pelham SAU 28, $5,000; Plaistow SAU 55, $15,000; town of Plaistow, $5,000; Salem SAU, 57 $5,000; Windham SAU, 28 $5,000

The Attorney General's Office will release its opinion on whether the case should be remanded back to the Superior Court by Aug. 27.

"I think it's a pretty big move," said Young. "The interesting thing will be what the state's response is. I would expect that they will lock arms and work with us.

"They defined it, they have said they will fulfill these other three mandates. The only thing they could say now was that they were kidding."

Greenberg said changes to the law could impact school funding by the 2008-2009 academic year.