A group of New Hampshire lawmakers voted on Thursday to delay a proposal from the State Board of Education that would require high schools to grant students credit for extracurriculars approved by the Board.
The program, called Learn Everywhere, faced fierce opposition from Democrats and many educators for nearly a year.
Among other things, they argued that by giving the State Board power over high school credits, Learn Everywhere took away local control.
The program’s supporters, including Governor Sununu, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and the majority of the State Board of Education, said Learn Everywhere would encourage students to pursue their passions outside of school and expand opportunities for disadvantaged students.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) issued a final rejection and a joint resolution, both along party lines.
The joint resolution opens the door for both the House and Senate to modify the Learn Everywhere proposal early next year, and to clarify a major sticking point in the current Learn Everywhere debate: whether the State Board of Education can legally force high schools to accept a credit from an outside entity.
But even if Learn Everywhere gets an overhaul, Governor Sununu still has the final say. He could veto those changes, allowing much of the State Board of Education's original proposal to go into effect.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Commissioner Edelblut expressed his disappointment in the vote.
"We have addressed every objection raised by members of the Rules Committee," he wrote. "But they have steadfastly opposed every effort to create new options for New Hampshire students. Today’s vote will delay implementation of Learn Everywhere until the Legislature considers a Joint Resolution. As Gov. Sununu remains a strong supporter of Learn Everywhere, today’s vote will only delay the program."
State Board of Education Chairman Andrew Cline called the vote "disheartening" and said lawmakers are misinterpreting current rules that govern schools.
"The way we've written the Learn Everywhere rules we think is pretty consistent with the authority of the state to have graduation requirements and credits and so forth, and JLCAR disagrees," he said.