Publisher's Note — By Jody Reese

Readin’, ritin’, paying up

by Jody Reese

Governor John Lynch’s plan to give education funds just to towns and cities that really need it will be a boon for Manchester.

Estimates have it that we will get an additional $7 million a year to fund our schools. Some of the wealthy suburban towns are banding together to oppose the plan because under it they will no longer get state aid. Basically it means no more handouts for the rich towns.

Unfortunately for Manchester, it’s likely the New Hampshire Supreme Court will strike down Lynch’s plan. Under Claremont, the court was pretty clear that funding should come from the state in an equalized way, which Lynch’s plan doesn’t do.

It doesn’t make much sense to have towns and cities raise all their own money for schools anyway. Town and city boundary lines are not national borders or even state boundaries, they are simply organizational lines. Why should a kid from Amherst get $10,000 worth of education a year and a Manchester student get only $6,500?

Yes, we have all heard the arguments that money doesn’t buy a better education (don’t tell that to a kid in Alabama), that everyone should just try harder. That just doesn’t wash with reality. Money buys newer textbooks, hires better-qualified teachers and provides after-school actives that help keep kids out of trouble.

Public education is one of those bedrock, Horatio-Alger-American principles that we tell our children about to make them believe that anyone can become president.

Providing our children with a good education should be a top priority, and just because a kid grows up in a poor town shouldn’t mean that he or she should have to use textbooks from the 1970s and learn science from a textbook rather than a lab, as kids in Amherst do.

In the end, New Hampshire might want to copy Kentucky’s model for education funding. There the state collects all property taxes and distributes the money back to counties and the school districts based on school attendance, so every school gets the same amount of money per day per student. Schools that still have a hard time meeting standards are then placed under the control of state administrators, who help each school get its scores up, similar to President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.

In the end, it’s clear to me that we as a state are responsible for providing — and yes I’ll say it — an adequate education to all children. It would be nice, though,  if we tried to provide an excellent education.

—Jody Reese

 
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