CONCORD — Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released his education policy plan, which prioritizes equality of opportunity and access, sensible funding mechanisms, and collaborative engagement with the private sector.
The plan includes four policy areas: providing students with a world-class education, building a funding system that works, promoting collaborative engagement, and ensuring college affordability. Connolly will lead a conference call to discuss his vision for education in the Granite State, with special guest Dana Hilliard, Mayor of Somersworth and Principal of Somersworth Middle School.
I know firsthand that education makes a difference in every child’s life. As Governor, giving every New Hampshire student the same opportunities I had in the classroom will be my top priority.
Access to quality public education, with strong teachers and caring mentors, made all the difference in my life. Without a public school teacher who stood up for me and encouraged me to realize my full potential, I would never have been driven to excel in high school, attend and graduate college and business school, and build a successful career in the public and private sectors.
Studies estimate 68 percent of New Hampshire jobs will require education beyond high school by 2020; based on current trends, it’s unlikely New Hampshire will be able to keep up. To grow our economy and create the opportunity every Granite Stater deserves—the ability to live, work, and raise a family of their own right here in New Hampshire—we must address this disparity now.
The Community College System of New Hampshire has created the “65×25” initiative to help ensure that, by 2025, 65 percent of Granite Staters in the workforce have some form of post-secondary education.
As Governor, I will work to give every Granite Stater a world-class education—starting with our youngest students and continuing through graduation—to make sure that every student has career-ready skills to fill the innovation-economy jobs being created all across New Hampshire.
Connolly’s education plan is available below and online at MarkConnollyNH.com/Education.
Provide Students with a World-Class Education
Our children deserve a world-class education, starting in early childhood and continuing through graduation, complete with career-ready skills. They’re not just competing with students from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and California for jobs anymore—they’re competing with students in Singapore, Shanghai, and Taipei, too. That means we need to innovate when it comes to how we approach education.
- Reaching young people early in life is critical to ensuring their future success. We need to further implement early-childhood education programs across New Hampshire and fully fund universal kindergarten in every community in our state.
- Our focus on education must evolve to provide a workforce for our business community. As New Hampshire’s innovation economy grows, we need to prioritize Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Design, and Math (STEAM) programs in our schools to give our young people the opportunity to pursue the careers of the future right here in New Hampshire.
- Students succeed when they have great teachers. We must do more to attract and retain top-tier educators in our public schools, including paying them a quality salary, offer the training they need to succeed and the resources they need in the classroom, and guaranteeing them a safe and secure retirement.
Build a Funding System That Works
For decades, our government has failed to properly fund public education. The current stabilization-and-cap formula just doesn’t work. That’s why, as Governor, I will focus on reworking the state’s contribution to public education.
- New Hampshire’s education-funding formula cannot turn into a political calculation. We need to target aid to the communities that need it most, and we must ensure that students are not left behind due to geography. Every New Hampshire student deserves the same opportunities to succeed, no matter where they live.
- School-building aid needs to be incorporated into our education funding formula to maintain our valuable facilities. Students cannot succeed in crumbling schools and outdated structures.
- Resources must go where they’re needed most: into the classroom. We should consider consolidating some administrative responsibilities across school districts in order to reduce costs elsewhere.
Promote Collaborative Engagement
We must also ensure New Hampshire’s newest and most innovative businesses have the talent pool they need. I call it collaborative engagement: matching the needs of businesses with education. By offering career-ready standards, we can prepare a new generation of students for 21st-century professions right here in New Hampshire.
- New Hampshire needs to better measure what’s actually learned, both in and out of school. Our educational system should measure more than time in the classroom, and it’s time we moved beyond ideological debates about standardized testing and start moving toward solutions that allow our graduates to compete on a global scale.
- Students should be encouraged to pursue career-ready skills. Competency-based education should be a priority of our education system, not an afterthought, and the state should increase support to programs like New Hampshire Scholars and WorkReadyNH, which provide students opportunities to develop career-ready skills while still enrolled in school.
- Investment in collaborative engagement is the way toward the future. New Hampshire’s business community must actively engage with our education system and provide resources to allow students to pursue internships, mentorships, apprenticeships, and vocational trades while in high school.
- New Hampshire should promote more STEM and STEAM opportunities. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation estimates there are more than 700 STEM-related efforts across New Hampshire. As Governor, I will convene a STEM Leadership Council to ensure these efforts are coordinated with agreed-upon goals and measured benchmarks.
Ensure High School Graduates Can Afford Higher Education
We are a stronger state when our high school and college students stay in New Hampshire after graduation. But, all too often, our graduates leave the state to pursue a higher education, a career, or both—and they don’t come back. Our growing innovation economy requires an educated workforce, and we must reverse this alarming trend if New Hampshire is to succeed.
- More New Hampshire students should be prepared for a great career in the Granite State. Expand certificate, dual-admission, and college-credit attainment programs in high school—so we can ensure our children are both college- and career-ready and equipped to compete with their peers in every other state as well as around the globe.
- Synergy between community and four-year colleges will help keep students local. Further aligning the Community College System of New Hampshire with the University System of New Hampshire would allow students to seamlessly transfer credits earned towards a four-year degree—helping them reach their potential in the world of higher education without having to leave the Granite State.
- Change begins with properly funding higher education. As Governor, I would restore funding to the University System of New Hampshire to the pre-2011 level of $104 million.