Innovation Schools

Guest post by Richard Littlefield

Frank Edelblut is at it again.

No… he’s not running for Governor. Instead he is doing something else to improve New Hampshire’s educational system: Innovation Schools Fellowships!

With this new initiative, he is giving New Hampshire’s students the opportunity to take advantage of a new program meant to go a long way toward solving clear gaps in academic success in our public schools.

Through the Innovation Schools Fellowship, Concord and Colebrook Academy will pursue bold plans to provide more choices for students and families through the creation of newly proposed schools. At the end of the planning and design process, each district will emerge with a new school model that, if approved by the local school board, has the potential to dramatically change the lives of children in their community for years to come.

New Hampshire Department of Education press release

I know it’s quite the novelty in our society that a person in charge of anything involving education and government actually strives for academic success for all students without talking about funds (i.e. over funding superintendent budgets) But that is exactly what Commissioner Edelblut is doing.

In the last round of testing for proficiency in subjects like reading, writing and math, a large amount of New Hampshire students came up embarrassingly low– something that isn’t new.

In fact, in Laconia’s schools only 30% of students are grade level proficient in core subjects. Manchester is in the single to barely double digits. This is something that needs changing- and fast.

Is there any one reason for why our government school system is in such bad shape? No. There are many, and here’s but a few:

  • Funding is a problem.
  • The fact that younger teachers are not properly able to deal with learning disabilities and the behaviors of troubled students is a problem.
  • The fact that government approved curriculums work very little is a problem.
  • The fact that a growing number of parents are absent in their child’s life causing resentment and troubling societal behavior is a problem.
  • The fact that districts have adopted policies that deter teachers, principals and other faculty from disciplining bullies and those students who threaten others or destroy school property is a giant problem not just in New Hampshire but around the country as well.

A serious lack of successful innovation in areas that clearly need change should never go unchecked again, and with this new program there will be no reason why school districts can’t find areas that need improvement and take a serious step toward academic success.

Sadly, in part because it is Frank Edelblut, those who oppose him will find a reason to come out against any initiative he and the rest of the crew at the NH DOE come up with in favor of our students.

There are some in the community who won’t listen to or accept anything unless it is endorsed by persons such as the American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. But, despite people like her, and the status quo she represents, the time for kicking the can down the road or waiting for the right political winds to blow has come and gone, and substantive change is on the way.

For me — a parent that has fought tooth and nail to make sure that my child gets an appropriate and stellar education, I see this as a huge opportunity for a big win.

As a former state representative that voted to improve New Hampshire’s schools that also fought against things on a local level that I felt were detrimental to our students, I am asking everyone to look at this in an objective manner before making up your own minds on this.

If you like what the Department of Education has brought forward, contact your local state representatives, school boards, and Superintendents, and tell them that you would like their support for Innovation Schools Fellowships.

Imagine a public school system that works for everybody, and makes things just a little easier for parents and guardians who pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for a public school education.

Hon. Richard Littlefield 


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