9486 in the collection
School head: New law has cost implications
Ohanian Comment: Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, chairwoman of the Education Committee, voted in favor of this bill. She said there will be no cost to the district.
The "cost" is more than money. How many different lessons must a teacher supply? How long would it take a teacher to prepare an alternative to evolution?
Education chair Nancy Stiles' professional experience: School Nutrition Director, Hampton School District, 1974-2004.
Question: It is entirely to the good if kids choose their own books for free reading, but is it still public education if every kid has his own science curriculum, his own history curriculum?
By Aaron Davis
EXETER — A new law will allow any parent to object to material being taught in public schools and request alternative instruction.
The Exeter Region Cooperative School Board is reviewing the policies behind the law and what it will cost the district.
"This bill that is now in place would allow any parent to object to any course material," said Patty Lovejoy, Cooperative School Board chairwoman. "There is no definition in the bill as to what the reason is or what they consider objectionable. We've always had a parent object to a book in class, when something else can be substituted."
The bill requires school districts to "adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent's or legal guardian's determination that the material is objectionable. Such policy shall include a provision requiring the parent or legal guardian to notify the school principal or designee in writing of the specific material to which they object and a provision requiring an alternative agreed upon by the school district and the parent, at the parent's expense, sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area. The name of the parent or legal guardian and any specific reasons disclosed to school officials for the objection to the material shall not be public information and shall be excluded from access under RSA 91-A."
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. J.R. Hoell of Merrimac. This bill was passed by the state Legislature last summer and vetoed by Governor John Lynch. However, the Legislature overrode the veto on Jan. 4.
School Board member Townsley Chisholm asked Lovejoy if evolution and sex education could be objected. Lovejoy said "it could be." School Board member Liz Faria suggested it was impossible to object to the teaching of evolution and still meet the state standard, questioning how it would be done.
SAU 16 Superintendent Mike Morgan explained that they are trying to approach this topic carefully and without overreacting. However, he admits that there will be difficulties in approaching the issue.
"What I'm really worried about is having a teacher prepare two or three different lessons for that one lesson," Morgan said. "Now a teacher has to read three different books. What do you do with that? Is it the parent's responsibility to buy the class books?"
Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, chairwoman of the Education Committee, voted in favor of this bill. She said there will be no cost to the district, saying "Superintendents and parents meet all the time for various reasons so it becomes part of their everyday work. I don't see how this is costing taxpayers extra money."
Morgan expressed that there will be indirect costs associated with the policy nonetheless.
"What about the amount of time associated with meeting with parents, indirect costs associated with developing all of this," he said. "There are other costs associated with planning, studying, following through. Even if a child is doing an independent study, someone needs to monitor the independent study. You want to deal with individuals, but in our case, with a very large middle school and high school, you need to try to find what is most important to students."
The issue will be discussed further at the SAU Policy Committee meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Tuck Learning Campus.
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