Education | New Hampshire Public Radio

Education

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

As coronavirus cases surge, a growing number of school districts in New Hampshire are closing their doors and offering mostly virtual instruction instead of in-person classes. But Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials are urging schools to stay open, saying virus transmission in schools is limited and the payoff of in-person learning is high.

NHPR’s education reporter Sara Gibson has been following this and spoke with All Things Considered host Emily Quirk.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the education system across the country, and in New Hampshire. 

NHPR’s “COVID & the Classroom” tells the stories of how Granite Staters are weighing the necessity of employment and school with the realities of the pandemic. And we want to hear from you.

Scroll down to answer our current survey question.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Despite disruptions in school due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Chris Sununu says he will not waive requirements for special education.

Over 30,000 K-12 students in New Hampshire are legally entitled to special ed services, but many of these were postponed or limited during statewide school closures earlier this year.

File Photo, NHPR

The Nashua School District, like many across the state, plans to reopen its schools this fall under a hybrid learning model, with students in school a few days a week and then learning remotely for the rest of the week.

The district announced a reopening plan Monday to begin the semester fully remote, but transition to that hybrid plan starting in October.

But how do teachers feel about that plan? NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with Adam Marcoux, the president of the Nashua Teachers' Union, to find out.

Update, Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Superintendent Jahmal Mosley and Marcoux, in a joint statement Aug. 5, said there continue to be many details that need to be worked out. They said once the reopening plan is approved, they can work together to address safety concerns, contractual issues, and other issues raised.

Via Concord High School website

A report released this week by the Concord School Board confirmed that top school district officials failed to thoroughly investigate and report sexual misconduct complaints against former teacher Howie Leung.

Leung is awaiting trial on charges of sexually assaulting a former Concord student while she was in middle school.

The 155-page, independent report shows a full decade of student and staff complaints about Leung’s behavior, but it says few steps were ever taken to address it by school administrators. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu’s guidelines for reopening New Hampshire schools call for in-class instruction in most circumstances, but leave major decisions for how to resume teaching during the pandemic to local districts.  

Ed Meyer / Dartmouth

New Hampshire colleges will likely continue with some aspects of virtual learning when students return to campuses this fall. It's a particular challenge for disciplines like earth science, which rely on field trips and physical lab work.

Congressional Democrats have accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

Johannes Thiel via Flickr cc

The New Hampshire Department of Education has created a task force to determine how public schools should resume this fall.

The School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce will look at lessons from remote learning and at different approaches schools could take next year as the pandemic continues.

Starting Monday, Advanced Placement exams, which test high schoolers' knowledge of college material, will take an unusual form. The high-anxiety, college credit tests normally last three hours and are taken in person. But this year, in response to disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak, the College Board, which administers AP exams, shortened the tests to 45 minutes and moved them online.

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

High schools have new guidance from the state on hosting graduation ceremonies during school closure. In a memo shared on Wednesday, the New Hampshire Department of Education says schools can host in-person ceremonies, if all attendees can easily maintain proper social distancing.

The Department of Education suggests car parades and virtual graduations as a substitute.

What will happen on college campuses in the fall? It's a big question for families, students and the schools themselves.

A lot of what happens depends on factors outside the control of individual schools: Will there be more testing? Contact tracing? Enough physical space for distancing? Will the coronavirus have a second wave? Will any given state allow campuses to reopen?

For all of these questions, it's really too early to know the answers. But one thing is clear: Life, and learning for the nation's 20 million students in higher education, will be different.

For the last few weeks, it's been tough for Alexis Jones to focus. The high school senior has been holed up in a two-bedroom apartment with, at times, four other people, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

She's busy with her high school classes, AP tests, her online college course, plus her job at a nonprofit, for which she is still working remotely. The things that bring her joy in isolation? Painting with acrylics and daydreaming about college.

This week, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million from the first coronavirus rescue package will go to two education grant competitions for K-12 and higher ed.

States will be able to apply for a piece of the $180 million allotted to the "Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant" and $127.5 million allotted to the "Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant."

NHPR Photo

Gov. Chris Sununu has ordered remote learning at New Hampshire schools to be extended through the end of the academic year. That means all public schools, and private schools, will remain closed, as students continue their studies from home.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut about what this means for students, parents, and educators across the state.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

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Contract lecturers at the University of New Hampshire have a new collective bargaining agreement.

The school announced Thursday that it had ratified a deal with the lecturers union in late March.

The negotiations date to well before the coronavirus pandemic forced UNH to close its dorms and move to remote instruction.

The new agreement runs through June of 2022. It covers new policies for leaves of absence, performance reviews and promotions, according to a UNH statement.

So far just a few U.S. higher education students have confirmed exposure to COVID-19, mainly through contact with patients in hospitals.

Courtesy

The head of the Community College System of New Hampshire will be stepping down after nine years in the role to become president of Bryant University in Rhode Island.

Ross Gittell says he's been able to accomplish a lot with the help of a strong faculty and staff at the state's seven community colleges.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

The Manchester school board approved a strategic plan Thursday night designed to improve equity and student outcomes throughout the district. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Lawmakers, education advocates, and state officials are entering the third month of a high-profile battle over whether to accept a large federal grant to double the number of public charter schools in New Hampshire. 

Despite the grant’s likely demise, the debate surrounding it has reignited long-held tensions over charter schools, who they serve, and what they could mean for the future of public education in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Lawmakers on the fiscal committee voted today against accepting a $10 million federal grant for charter school expansion.

This was the fourth vote in two months against the grant, which aims to double the number of charter schools in New Hampshire over the next five years.

Democrats say it would undermine traditional public schools and cost the state millions of dollars down the road.

Jordyn Haime

An inquiry into the University of New Hampshire’s student senate by the school’s Dean of Students office found evidence of sexual harassment, grooming, and an overall hostile environment, especially toward female members.

Sarah Gibson, NHPR

High schoolers looking to go to community college early - and get a free associates degree - can now apply for a new program called the New Hampshire Career Academy.

The Career Academy will enroll up to 40 students. Rather than send money to the student's home districts, the state will pay for their tuition at a nearby community college, offering training in fields like biotech, cybersecurity, and healthcare.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut hopes the program will open doors for students who normally might just be trying to get through their senior year.

File Photo, NHPR

New Hampshire schools' social studies standards are expected to get an update this year. The proposed updates from the DOE come after mounting concern among some lawmakers over the lack of history and civics in public education.

"It's critical for our democracy that one, people know how it works and two, people know how to get involved if they are upset and want to change it," says Rep. Garrett Muscatel of Hanover.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

Senator Maggie Hassan is meeting with students in Nashua on Tuesday to discuss a bill she's sponsoring to expand early college programs for high-schoolers.

The bill - Fast Track To and Through College - is inspired by New Hampshire's own college high school dual enrollment program, Running Start, which allows high schoolers to enroll in community college classes that count toward college credit. 

New Hampshire’s Plan To Double Its Charter Schools

Nov 7, 2019
Sara Ernst / NHPR

New Hampshire has just 29 charter schools, which is fewer than most states. Over the next five years, the state wants to nearly double the amount of charter schools with the help of new federal funding. 

In August, the New Hampshire Department of Education was awarded $46 million over five years to create 20 new charter schools, seven replications of “high-quality” charter schools and five expansions.

Via Concord High School website

Terri Forsten, the superintendent of the Concord School District, has resigned. Forsten has been on administrative leave since September, after public outcry over her handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a former teacher. The school board officially accepted her resignation on Friday night.

Via Concord High School website

The Concord school board has placed district Superintendent Terri Forsten and Concord High Principal Tom Sica on paid leave, as the board investigates allegations that school officials mishandled claims of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct by a former teacher.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Editor's note: This is the second story in a two-part series. Click here to read part one

We heard yesterday about a family who left the Hampton school district this past spring, saying school officials mishandled their daughter's reports that she was bullied for being black. 

Hampton administrators say they didn't break any rules. But for the past couple years, they've been trying to improve their policies around diversity and equity. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Editor's note: This is the first story in a two-part series. Here is part two

The schools in Hampton are in the midst of debate over how to handle racism and prejudice. 

The issue came into focus earlier this year, when the white parents of a black third-grader said school officials had mishandled their reports of racist bullying. 

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