New Hampshire MEA
New Hampshire Hill Visits
- Met with representatives from Congressman Charles Bass and Frank Guinta’s offices.
- Also met with a representative from Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, “coincidentally, it is the same person we met with last year, which provided some familiarity.”
- Had a tentative meeting set up with a rep from Kelly Ayotte’s office, but “there was no one there when we arrived. So the best we could do was to drop off materials.”
- Overall impression: “In general, our meetings were successful.”
- Shaheen’s office wanted specific language that “we might like them to use. I told them that I would get back to them.”
- Bass’ office said that “the latest they were hearing was that ESEA was going to be reintroduced in smaller parts, rather than one larger piece of legislation.”
- All three representatives talked about “how their person saw education as a key issue, both in the budget process and the legislation.”
- “By the way, thanks for a fantastic assembly. There are a lot of great things taking place at the national level that will help the field for many years to come.”
Department of Education
Governor: John Lynch (D)
State Senate: Republicans 19 – Democrats 5
State House: Republicans 298 – Democrats 102
U.S. Senate: Republicans 1 – Democrats 1
U.S. House of Representatives: Republicans 2 – Democrats 0
- Music ed budget cuts
- Education budget cuts in the state
- Music teacher layoffs, or reduction in number
- Teacher layoffs in general
- Cutting time for music during school day
Articles & Sites of Interest
An artless redefinition of adequate (Nashua Telegraph – Jan 26, 2011)
It’s not every day you get a Grammy-nominated artist testifying against proposed legislation in the state capital. But when Goffstown singer-songwriter Judy Pancoast heard about a bill that would make music education optional in the state’s public schools, she wanted her voice to be heard. Pancoast, nominated this year for her children’s album, told members of the House Education Committee on Tuesday that music was the only thing that saved her from a childhood filled with torment from other students because of her weight. Thanks to the support of a music teacher, she gained the confidence to sing a solo in the spring concert, sparking her career in music. “To me, music was not just a core curriculum subject; it was the core curriculum subject,” Pancoast said. Pancoast was one of dozens of education leaders, current and former teachers, and arts advocates who expressed fierce opposition to a local state representative’s proposal to strip subjects such as art, world languages and technology from the state’s definition of an adequate education. About 150 people turned out for the Education Committee’s hearing on HB39, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Boehm, R-Litchfield. The bill, filed earlier this month, would strike arts, world languages, health, technology education and information and communication technologies from the list of subjects defined as an adequate education by the state. That would leave English language arts, math, science, social studies and physical education as the only state-mandated subjects. At Tuesday’s hearing, speakers railed against the proposal, arguing that lifting the requirement to teach critical subjects would give local school boards the opportunity to remove them from the curriculum, putting students in those communities at a disadvantage. Maryanne Irish, president of the New Hampshire Music Educators Association (MENC ID#000231775), said while the legislation doesn’t prohibit schools from teaching the arts, removing them from the list of mandated subjects “would make the reduction of arts an easy and quick fix” for school boards looking for places to cut back. “It makes education the scapegoat for a larger financial problem,” Irish said. “It is a wrong and disproportionate response.”
Concerns found in NH arts survey (Nashua Telegraph – March 10, 2011)
Without an arts education, Thomas dePaola isn’t sure he’d be where he is today. The New London resident was one of dozens of arts education advocates who turned out for the release of the results of New Hampshire’s first look at the prevalence of arts education in public schools. “Measuring Up: New Hampshire Arts Education Data Project Report” was the state’s first arts education survey of schools. About a third of the state’s public schools took part in the voluntary survey, representing 84,840 students. All Nashua schools participated. In the survey, schools were asked about their arts curriculum, funding for arts, and certification of arts instructors, among other things. Among the findings of the survey were:
- 95% of elementary school students are enrolled in at least one art class;
- 89 percent of middle school students and half of high school students responded the same.
- 88% percent of elementary school students participate in both music and visual arts classes for approximately 50 minutes a week in each art form.
- 73% of high schools require more arts classes than the half-credit graduation requirement set by the state.
- 11% of schools have no budget for arts, not including teacher salaries.
- 8% of schools have no dedicated classroom space for art.
The survey was a partnership between the state Department of Education, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. Nashua has had its own struggles with funding for arts education, particularly at the elementary schools. Over the past few years, the district has cut back to 10 visual arts and 10 music teachers for the city’s 12 elementary schools. That means, in some cases, teachers have to be shared among the smaller schools. According to the survey, 15 percent of schools spend $1 or less per student per year on materials and resources for arts education, excluding salaries and capital expenditures. Sixty-seven percent spend $20 or less. Marcia McCaffrey, Director of Arts for the state Department of Education (MENC ID# 000180688 ), called the recommendations “a vision for strengthening arts education in our state.” The report gives arts teachers the baseline data they need to inform decisions at the local level,” she said. There are plans for follow-up surveys and statewide workshops.
To make budget, NH schools cut art, textbooks (Foster’s Daily Democrat – Aug 14, 2011)
Recycled art and used textbooks are just part of what resulted from the last set of cuts school administrators were forced to make recently. As part of the school district’s decision to save the existing structure of the middle school teams, each school agreed to cut about 5 percent of their already tight budget to make up a remaining $27,267 in needed cuts to cover downshifted retirement costs to the Garrison City. The middle school currently has three “teams” consisting of four teachers per team — one set for the seventh grade and the others for eighth grade. The proposed cut had asked for the seventh- and eighth-grade teams to be reduced to two teams of five teachers each. Administrators were asked not to cut from programming or personnel costs. The 5 percent cut came after the School Board already approved a cut of $272,233 from Edjobs, a program intended to help with teacher development. “We’re very fortunate to maintain these teams,” said middle school co-principal Kim Lyndes. “We were able to keep our class sizes low.” As part of the cuts, the middle school cut a total of $3,714.85 from its budget, taking out items such as funding for art, music and text book replacement. Lyndes said staff and students will be asked to work on more electronic projects to help reduce paper use. “We made cuts across the board,” she said. “We tried to do as minimal as possible. I think every year we ask our teachers to do more with less.” Superintendent Jean Briggs Badger said she is impressed with the district’s decision to work together, rather than let the middle school restructure its teams or allow other schools to take a bigger hit than others. “It wasn’t pitting one school against another,” she said. “They came together and said what was best for the district.”