Tuesday, May 18, 2010

School Board Association or Just Another Puppet Group of the NEA/AFT?

As a board member, I view organizations claiming to represent school boards with deep suspicion. How is it possible to advocate for "school boards" on the state, nevermind the national level? The purpose of a school board is to promote the interests of their electorate. How can we expect the wishes of Croydon to align with say, Plymouth or Nashua? In the dog-eat-dog world of state redistribution of education dollars, one cannot expect harmony of values among New Hampshire's many communities.

A watered-down organizational position could allow such a group to encompass the diverse makeup of our state. Regrettably, this is not the case. The New Hampshire School Board Association's Policy Manual (http://www.nhsba.org/documents/pdfs/Policy_Res_Manual_2009.pdf) encapsulates the key values of this particular group. Among these:

- Section I: Total opposition to school choice, including vouchers, tax credits or any form of support to non-government school systems. (As their first policy statement, this is quite telling.)

- Section II: Support for the "adequate education" mandate embodied in the Claremont and Londonderry rulings. Opposition of any efforts to reverse these decisions. Section E is code for an education income tax.

- Section IV: Increased regulation of charter schools.

- Section V: Relaxed restrictions on expenditures by local school districts.

- Section VII: Weakening of AYP standards.

- Section VIII: Mandatory kindergarten. Increased mandatory attendance from 16 to 18 years old.

These values read as if cribbed from the NEA/AFT wish list. This is either an astonishing coincidence, or good old-fashioned Astroturf. I suspect the latter.

In any case, New Hampshire's 1.3 million citizens have substantive differences of opinion on these issues. All should have equal representation from their school boards. If these policies represent the will of a majority of New Hampshire school boards, then these school boards are neglecting their responsibility to the public.

In particular, no school district should be using tax dollars to support these organizations. I do not yet know whether Croydon or Newport does, but it is worth finding out.

So what brought this up? I received an email from the National School Board Association soliciting interest in a "Technology and Learning" conference in Phoenix. (ie. Computers and Internet, as if jet engines, microwave ovens, and vaccines are not "technology") More effort on results instead of expensive tools would be appreciated.

The end of the email really made me want to puke. It had a paragraph-long virtual apology for holding the convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jim Peschke

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