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Hearing on 'Learn Everywhere' Draws Crowd and Controversy

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Sarah Gibson for NHPR
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The State Board of Education is getting public feedback on proposed Learn Everywhere rules that would make it easier for students to get high school credit for extracurricular activities.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut helped develop Learn Everywhere in response to legislation passed in Spring 2018. 

Supporters of the proposal say it would give students opportunities to pursue their interests outside of school and connect with their community.

In a packed hearing at the Department of Education on Thursday, Nashua South Senior Sihath Kaki testified that he spends hours each week on advanced math classes at Kumon, a private academic enrichment center in Nashua, but that he couldn’t get any credit for those hours at Nashua South.

“Learn Everywhere allows kids to get credit for something that’s not offered at school, so if a student dances after school, or if they work in a construction site, they can earn credit for doing their passion,” he said in an interview with NHPR.

But over a dozen teachers and administrators warned that Learn Everywhere would exacerbate inequities in public schools and undermine the years of work they’ve spent developing Extended Learning Opportunities, or ELO's.

The N.H. DOE’s current ELO program allows students to get credit for out-of-school learning, but only with approval from their local school board and oversight from a teacher.

Donna Couture, President of the ELO Network and ELO coordinator at Winnacunnet High School, said that the State Board needed to involve teachers and local school boards in its proposed changes.

“If you are going to create a program that circumvents the educators who are working with those students on a daily basis to ensure that they reach graduation, you're defeating the purpose,” she said. “You're undercutting the entire system.”

 
Public comment period on "Learn Everywhere" ends February 20. The State Board is expected to vote on the rules this spring.