Monday, February 12, 2007

Lynch moves on education proposal

The following piece was posted on the Union Leader website.

Lynch moves on education proposal
State House Bureau Chief

Concord – Gov. John Lynch proposed solving part of the school funding puzzle today with what he called "a simple and significant" definition of an adequate education.

Backed by legislative leaders, Lynch said he wants to rely on the standards for school approval and curriculum guidelines that are already in place as a step toward satisfying Supreme Court school funding rulings. The court's Claremont decisions said the state must fund an adequate education for all public school students.

The proposed definition of adequacy includes a broad range of academic subjects, from reading and math to technology and the arts, but does not include a requirement for kindergarten.

Lynch and others agreed the proposal is a starting point for public discussions that move to Nashua tonight in the first of five statewide forums on the topic of adequacy.

Lynch said that in the next few weeks he will present a proposed constitutional amendment that will allow the state to target more school aid to poorer communities.

The Lynch definition sets the stage for an amendment by stating that because towns and cities have a variety of economic conditions, they will need different levels of support.

The proposal does not include any reference to costs, which Lynch said will only distract from the debate over what children ought to learn to succeed in the modern world.

"I think it is inappropriate to start that discussion now because then there will be a debate about the cost and then the cost will drive the definition," he said.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, said Lynch's move will help "meet our responsibilities to the children of our state."

House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, said the public will be part of the broader debate on the subject, but called it "a great starting point in a very important discussion."

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