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The Big Question: What do you wish you’d learned more about in school?

File Photo, NHPR

As bills are making their way through the State House this legislative session, politicians, parents, students and community members have different opinions about what should be taught in New Hampshire schools.

This session, bills were introduced to require teaching about the concept of consent or mandate teaching about labor history. Lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would prioritize English, science, math, and social studies, loosening requirements for other subjects like arts and foreign languages.

Other changes are already in place. Starting next year, New Hampshire high school students will need to pass a 128-question civics exam in order to graduate high school.

And a law passed last year now prohibits public schools and institutions from teaching that any group is inherently racist, superior or inferior to another group. When the law was signed, more than half of the members of Governor Chris Sununu's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion announced their resignations in protest. In December, the ACLU, NEA-NH and others sued the state over the law, saying it’s having a “chilling effect” on staff trainings and classroom discussions.

This debate isn’t limited to the Granite State. It’s happening across the country, from Texas to Georgia to South Carolina. NPR reports 35 states have introduced bills that would regulate and restrict the way teachers or faculty at public universities can discuss race or sex. Of those bills, 12 have been enacted into law in 10 states.

So, what do you think about the state of education?

For this month’s Big Question, we asked: “What topics or skills do you wish you learned more about in school, and why?”

Here’s what two of you said:

Paul Hague: Teachers need to be very careful to make sure that what they are teaching is, in fact, the truth. And additionally, I think that they really need to make sure that they're not being put in a position where they're not telling the full truth. There are a lot of people who are trying to do the best they can to not face the truth related to the Indigenous peoples and minorities. And I think it's very important that kids growing up are aware of the actual history as opposed to a doctored one based on political preferences. Critical Race Theory is something that's taught in college, and they're using it to try to ban the use of certain books. When you begin banning books, I mean, that's history repeating itself. I'm not comfortable with the way things are looking at this point today.

Carlos Delgado: Personal finance is an essential skill to teach our kids in high school. It shouldn't be limited to just having an accounting or a business degree in college, since everyone at some point is going to have to figure out how to manage their personal finances, how to pay their bills and manage their salary, as well as taxes and other things that come out of it, investing in their retirement fund. All these things are essential skills that, unfortunately, I think a lot of even college kids got taken advantage of as a result of student loans and kind of unwisely overreaching and overspending based on this free money because they lack the skill and knowledge. So to me, this is essential and should be part of every high school.

Submissions for February are now closed.

Find the stories from last month’s Big Question about abortion rights here.

Julia Furukawa is the host of All Things Considered at NHPR. She joined the NHPR team in 2021 as a fellow producing ATC after working as a reporter and editor for The Paris News in Texas and a freelancer for KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.
Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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