Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What is an Adequate Education by Tyler Stearns

On February 19th we had the pleasure of hearing the following brilliant speech by the very articulate and intelligent Tyler Stearns a senior at Holderness school. The speech was presented at the State Education Forum in Plymouth. Please send your definition of an "adequate education" to

Tyler Stearns
February 19, 2007

What is an Adequate Education?

My name is Tyler Stearns. I am a senior in high school. I wanted to speak tonight because I have had the unique experience of attending both public and private educational institutions. I spent my elementary years at Thornton Central School and my first two years of high school here at Plymouth. I transferred across the river to the private Holderness School last year.

Speaking from experience, I have found that a one-size-fits-all education does not work. The Supreme Court’s misguided opinions have left us in a precarious situation. We are now ultimately being forced to adopt universal standards for education. But students are by no means universal in all of their educational abilities. It would be unwise for us to adopt a definition of adequacy that dumps all students into a collective group. We need to focus on individual preference and ability.

I recommend that the state adopt a two-fold plan:
• We need a constitutional amendment to prevent centralization of our traditionally decentralized education system. We need to retain local control. After all, who knows what children need most: local teachers and parents or legislators and bureaucrats in Concord?
• The next part is to adopt some kind of school choice program. If every time a new educational technique or tool is created we have to wait months, perhaps years, for the legislature to act what kind of education are we giving our children? Allowing school choice will force the educational system to adapt to attract children. I have had the fortunate experience of being able to afford a private school education. We don’t need to flood our failing schools with more money; we need to give less-fortunate children the option of attending a school that performs well.

Objective studies, including some from Harvard and Princeton, have shown that school choice has caused reading and math scores to rise anywhere from 6 to 15 percentile points. Both public and private schools show improvement in performance in those areas that allow school choice. One study even showed that students using vouchers to attend private school almost double their graduation rates as compared to non-voucher public school students in the same city. I know this forum is not about funding, but as an added bonus one study done in here in New Hampshire showed that a proposed school choice system would have saved the state over 30 million dollars in 8 years. Now, if all this is not adequacy then I don’t know what is.

In summary, I propose that the State of New Hampshire adopt a constitutional amendment and a school choice program. It is the only way that we can ensure all students will get the best education possible. Let parents and children decide how our education system works. I leave you with a quote on school choice from Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Milton Friedman: “We can strengthen the foundations of our freedom and give fuller meaning to equality of educational opportunity”.

To learn more about Tyler Stearns click here.
Keep an eye on this young-man he is sure to be one of our great leaders when he is an adult. He just may be president come 2048 or so.

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