February 15, 2007

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Concord Publisher's Note: Education is non-partisan
By†Dan Szczesny

Yet another stab has been taken at sorting out the stateís school funding crisis. This time, Gov. John Lynch has proposed using New Hampshireís school approval standards to define an adequate education.

Heís basically starting from scratch and trying to come up with definitions on which lawmakers can all agree. Once you get everyone to agree on what an adequate education means, the thinking goes, you might be able to create actual legislation.

At least itís a step in the right direction.

All too often our political process gets bogged down in ideological differences, personal animosities or political grandstanding. Itís been a decade since the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that solely funding education through town property taxes was unconstitutional, and yet the problem is still not solved. Most funding solutions have only gotten support from primarily one party or the other. Clearly itís not been a case of consensus.

Whatís hopeful about Lynchís proposal to use state approval standards is that they were put together by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers. And, the public will have the chance to comment on the standards as well, so lawmakers can use that input to craft a final bill.

No price has been attached to the definition yet, and, typically, the GOP, led by Sen. Ted Gatsas, wants more clarity. Thatís a fair complaint, as no lawmaker is going to vote for such a bill without knowing how much it will cost. Still, it would be nice to see the parties work together for once and at least agree that when it comes to education funding, ideology is less important than smart kids.

But money does make a difference, and lawmakers are actively aware of how much voters in each of their districts would end up paying depending on the proposed solution. We live in a capitalist economy and that wonít change. Unfortunately, the result has been an unfair education system.

Itís time to get beyond party loyalty. Then, maybe, if both sides of the aisle can agree on just what an adequate education should be to begin with, lawmakers can stop arguing and teachers can start teaching.