Attempts to End an Educational Option Before It Begins
The innovative Learn Everywhere program is facing two attacks before it is even implemented. Senate Bill 140, introduced by Senator Jay Kahn, is a blatant partisan power-move against the program and headed for Governor Sununu’s desk. Learn Everywhere also has a critical vote by the state Board of Education at their next meeting on June 13th. Word has it that school-choice opponents are bombarding the board with misinformation.
Learn Everywhere is designed to bring more learning opportunities to public school students, beyond their classroom experiences, and have it count towards graduation credit.
This innovative program adheres to the state’s philosophy and statutes, maintains the strong tradition of local control, while allowing greater flexibility for students to pursue interests and potential careers while earning high-school credit.
The state Board of Education already credentials schools and teachers; this simply allows the BOE to also credential these courses, unbundling learning from buildings, while expanding the opportunity for an adequate education. Modeled on the existing Charter School authorization program, Learn Everywhere is adapted for individual programs instead of entire schools. It builds on Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) that are available and managed at the local district level. Learn Everywhere allows for these opportunities to extend beyond zip codes, making more options available for students and simplifying the process for organizations and businesses that wish to participate in multiple areas.
Like other educational alternatives, student participation in Learn Everywhere is optional. Giving students more options – more self-direct learning opportunities – encourages them to take ownership of their education.
Local school districts have policies governing how many credits from alternative learning options may be applied towards graduation, so this does not diminish local districts’ control for granting diplomas.
Learn Everywhere will not impact school funding because these opportunities already exist. They are simply awarding credit towards graduation for participation. Many of these programs are available for free or reduced fees like those available through the Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, Civil Air Patrol, other community organizations, and after-school clubs. Typically alternative learning programs, including those through ELOs, are at the family’s expense, not the district’s. For example, if a student pursues classes at Southern NH University, those courses are available at a discount, but the family is responsible for the tuition, not the local district school. Learn Everywhere is fully consistent with this practice.
Increasingly education is moving to “course choice,” not just “school choice.” More and more learning occurs across platforms, with a little here and there. Even now students may take some classes at the local district school, some online, some at home, and some through the local community college. Learn Everywhere recognizes this trend and positions NH as a front-runner in this new frontier for public education.
At a time when public-school districts face tight budgets, declining enrollment, and demands for more individualized instruction, New Hampshire’s Learn Everywhere program is a win-win for students, schools, organizations, businesses, and our communities.
Brief and polite phone calls are most effective, as are personalized emails.
The state Board of Education members’ emails are below for an easy copy/paste.