Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Defining adequacy: Don't fall into the court's trap

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader. No further commentary is needed because the Editorial Board of the Union Leader did an excellent job of pointing out the flaws of the court decision and defining and "adequate education."

Defining adequacy: Don't fall into the court's trap

GOV. JOHN LYNCH is still trying to have it both ways on education funding.

Wisely, he seeks to correct the state Supreme Court's erroneous Claremont rulings by passing a constitutional amendment to preserve localities as the primary financiers and providers of education. But he simultaneously attempts to placate the court by obeying its command that the state define an adequate education.

Education in New Hampshire is and always has been a local responsibility, and rightly so. The closer schools are to parents, the better and more responsive they are. So Lynch's constitutional amendment allowing targeted aid is the right response to the state Supreme Court's unfounded and outrageous assertion that the state must define educational adequacy and pay for it.

Why, then, are Lynch and legislators even bothering with defining adequacy? That's not the state's job.

If the people of Berlin want their children to know different things than the people of Portsmouth want their children to know, what business is it of the state? Some towns might put more emphasis on the arts, others on the sciences, others on mathematics, others on languages. What in the world is wrong with that?

We know, the state already sets minimum standards. So why not go ahead and write a state definition of adequacy? Because it's playing into the court's hands. Creating state definition of adequacy amounts to accepting the court's flawed premises, takes more control from local school districts and sets up the state for additional lawsuits.

What happens when the state defines adequacy? No matter how much money the state provides, districts will sue for more, arguing that it's not enough to meet the state definition.

The governor and legislators need to remember that the court is wrong. The state is not required to define adequacy, and they are wasting their time trying to do so. They should focus on correcting the court's error so that the state can continue its proper role of helping local districts meet their educational needs.

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