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Senator-Elect Hassan’s Initial Senate Committee Assignments Important to New Hampshire

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator-elect Maggie Hassan today announced two initial Senate committee assignments for the 115th Congress, with additional committee assignments expected in the coming weeks. She will serve on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

These committee appointments are subject to ratification by the Democratic Caucus and the full Senate.

“I’m honored to be appointed to these important Senate committees that will allow me to continue to focus on critical New Hampshire priorities,” said Governor and Senator-elect Maggie Hassan. “I look forward to hitting the ground running in January and bringing my bipartisan approach and commitment to problem solving to the U.S. Senate to expand economic opportunity, support innovative small businesses, and keep New Hampshire and America safe, secure, and strong.”

Senator-elect Hassan’s initial committee assignments will enable her to continue her efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis; ensure access to quality and affordable health care; make higher education and job training more affordable and accessible; and keep our communities safe.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the principal oversight committee of the United States Senate, overseeing homeland security policies and reviewing government efficiency and effectiveness more broadly. As Governor, Senator-elect Hassan worked with state homeland security and emergency management officials, local police departments, fire fighters and public safety officials, and federal partners to keep Granite Staters safe. In addition to overseeing the Department of Homeland Security and other critical homeland security priorities to keep America safe and secure – including cybersecurity efforts – Senator-elect Hassan’s appointment to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will also allow her to continue efforts to improve government efficiency and protect taxpayer dollars.  

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has broad jurisdiction over America’s health care, education, employment and retirement policies. Senator-elect Hassan’s appointment to the HELP Committee will allow her to build on her work as Governor to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis, to ensure that every Granite Stater has access to quality, affordable health care and to hold down the cost of college tuition and reduce the burden of student loan debt. She will fight to protect New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion program and preserve benefits for seniors, including standing up to those trying to turn Medicare into a voucher system, which would undermine retirement security and is expected to be debated in the upcoming Congress.

Granite State Rumbling: Every Child Matters NH’s Goals For 2017

Now that the elections and Thanksgiving are in our rearview mirror, our attention turns to the holidays of December and the hope of what a new year will bring.

2016 has been a long year for the advocates, organizations, and agencies across the state and across the country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that basic needs are met for our most vulnerable populations. It has been an even longer and much harder year for the children and families who continue to feel the effects of a shredded safety net and an opiate crisis that shows no mercy on those who are afflicted with the disease and the innocent victims caught in the current.

We have watched more of our children slip into poverty, go to bed hungry, and wonder where that bed is going to be tomorrow night. And as December’s cold winds blow through the state we now fear for those who have no place warm to escape them.

The Thanksgiving break afforded me the time to spend time with loved ones, eat some great desserts, watch some football, and reflect on the feelings of frustration and anger I have felt lately. I have regrouped and am now ready to get back to work. That work means playing offense instead of playing defense (stealing some football terminology).

We have gotten pretty good at playing defense when it comes to addressing the difficult challenges that face our state. The primary obstacle we face is not related to a lack of goodwill, but rather to the fundamental way we understand the nature of the problems we face. More times than not, we merely respond to symptoms of a given problem [defense] and don’t pay adequate attention to the problem that is producing the symptoms [offense]. All of which puts the cart before the horse and keeps us from truly moving forward.

Take, for instance, the growing issue of child poverty. When we think about helping those in need (“giving back to those less fortunate,” as the popular adage goes), many of us usually focus on acts of charitable giving. After all it is the season of giving. In the malls we find Christmas trees with cards on them asking for a gift for a child in need. At the grocery store are pre-packaged groceries that we can purchase for a family in need. Charity in its many forms tries to help people who are in need, which is certainly important and worthy of our best efforts.

But even more important is figuring out why people are in need in the first place, and then working toward alleviating the root causes of such need (it’s one thing to give food to a person who is hungry, but it’s another thing entirely to eliminate the reasons they are hungry in the first place). While we can of course celebrate acts of charity that take place in our community, the ultimate goal isn’t simply about responding to symptoms, but abolishing the problems that produce the symptoms.

So, don’t you think that at a time when we see the income gap widening, ninety-five percent of the recovery gains since 2009 going to the top 1%, over ¼ of all jobs in the U.S. paying below poverty wages, and child well-being indicators falling in our state, now is the right time for all of us to rally around a set of common goals that will strengthen families and put them on a course leading to economic security?

Take a look at Every Child Matters’ 5 priority areas in the section below. Is there an area that catches your attention? Give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’ll give you some ideas about how you can help advocate. Your voice is especially important now.  

Many New Hampshire kids are doing fine – but many are not.

1. Equal Opportunity:  Children remain more likely to be poor than any other age group, with more than one in ten in poverty in New Hampshire in 2015 (10.7 percent), and the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow.

2. Family and Work:  The Census Bureau data shows that in 58 percent of poor New Hampshire families, at least one person worked, although not always full time or year-round. Even when work and other income helps people to live up to twice the poverty line (up to $37,742 for a family of three), most people recognize that making ends meet is not that easy for those this near poverty. One in five Granite Staters are trying to get by with incomes this low. 

The average cost in New Hampshire for an infant in a child care center is more than $11,800 a year for an infant and for a 4-year-old, it’s more than $21,250.

3. Access to Education:  New Hampshire currently does not have a state-funded preschool program. Only 4 percent of 3-year-olds and 6 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in a public preschool program. A year of tuition for an instate student at the University of New Hampshire costs $16,017 plus room, board, books and incidentals $27,000+. The maximum Pell grant award covers only $5,775.

4. Children’s Healthcare:  12,000 New Hampshire children were without health insurance in 2014 and 94,153 children in New Hampshire were enrolled in Medicaid in 2014, increasing 15.1% from 2013. 

5. Children’s Safety: In 2014, New Hampshire had 15,184 total referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of those, 9,289 reports were referred for investigation.

In 2014, there were 646 victims of abuse or neglect in New Hampshire, a rate of 2.4 per 1,000 children, decreasing 21.4% from 2013. Of these children, 79.1% were neglected, 8.7% were physically abused, and 15.5% were sexually abused.

Equal Opportunity. Individual outcomes will always vary. But when every child gets a fair shot at success, America’s families, communities and the economy as a whole will benefit. Lifting children from poverty and removing discrimination or other barriers to development and achievement are a key government function. As noted by the eminent researcher and author Robert Putnam, denial of equal opportunity is a dagger to the heart of the American Dream.

Family and Work. Stagnant incomes and workplace practices that pit being a parent against being a provider strain families and harm kids. Working and having a family shouldn’t be so hard. Paid sick and family medical leave, access to affordable childcare and better incomes can help provide the economic security and flexibility that parents need to build their careers and support their families

Access to Education.  Research demonstrates that 80 percent of a child’s brain development occurs between the ages of zero and five. Yet little is invested at the federal level in early childhood education. All kids should have access to high-quality preschool regardless of parental income or where they live. Later in life, a teenager willing to work hard in college to get skills needed for success should not be blocked due to race and should not be burdened with a level of debt more crushing than that endured by any previous generation.

Children’s Healthcare.  More children have access to health care than ever due to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and children’s protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While not perfect, these laws prohibit insurance company discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, require insurance companies to cover child preventive care, and help ensure families won’t go broke when their child gets sick. Proposed policy changes must detail how children’s protections will be maintained or enhanced.

Children’s Safety. Every child needs a safe environment in their home, school and neighborhood. Preventing child abuse and neglect, as well as minimizing gun violence, a leading killer of children and teens, are top priorities for voters.

Granite State Rumblings: 5 Facts About The Early Childhood Workforce

From our friends at Child Trends comes this list of 5 critical facts about the early childhood workforce. 

About 3 in 4 young children are in non-parental care. Research on early brain development highlights the importance of quality early care and education, yet low wages make it difficult to attract and retain qualified staff.  

Half of the early childhood workforce are home-based care providers.

When you think of an early educator, you might imagine a preschool teacher in a classroom full of children. In reality, only half of the 2 million early educators and caregivers in the early childhood workforce work in formal settings like schools and centers. The other half of paid early childhood caregivers and teachers provide care through formal and informal arrangements in homes. Of the 20 million U.S. children under age 5, nearly 7 million receive care in a center-based program and 3 million are cared for in home-based settings. An additional 4 million children are cared for by an unpaid caregiver who is not their parent.

The average early childhood teacher or caregiver has 10 to 14 years of experience.

There is a popular misconception that early educators are inexperienced and do not have much knowledge of the field. But the recent National Survey of Early Care and Education reveals that the average educator or child care provider has 10 to 14 years of experience. In addition to having experience in the field, early educators across settings tend to work full-time hours. The average center-based teacher works 39 hours per week; the average home-based caregiver works nearly 54 hours per week.

Low wages result in significant percentages of early childhood teachers and caregivers receiving public assistance.

According to the National Survey of Early Care and Education, the average hourly wage for an early childhood caregiver is $10.60. Hourly wages vary depending on the age of the children in care. For example, caregivers serving infants and toddlers average $9.30 per hour, while their counterparts serving preschoolers make $11.90 per hour. Wages also depend on the setting in which teachers and caregivers work. A preschool teacher with a bachelor’s degree working in a public school earns an average of $22.90 per hour, but a provider operating a child care business in their home earns only $12.44 per hour. Nearly 1 in 3 preschool teachers and almost half of home-based providers are enrolled in a public assistance program to obtain health insurance, food support, and/or income support for their own families.

A call for increased qualifications for early care and education teachers and caregivers will require significant investments.

Last year, the Institute of Medicine released a report on transforming the early childhood workforce that calls for all early childhood lead teachers to have a bachelor’s degree by 2025.While policy initiatives through Head Start have had some success in increasing the qualifications of early childhood workers, additional strategies will be required to meet this goal across settings. As of 2012, only 45 percent of center-based preschool teachers, 19 percent of center-based infant-toddler teachers, and 16 percent of home-based providers had earned bachelor’s degrees. The Institute of Medicine recommends strategies, such as scholarships and tuition reimbursement, that increase the affordability of higher education, and supports to improve access to higher education.

Moving up in an early childhood career is challenging, but efforts are underway to support growth.

Many early educators find it difficult to advance their careers. A 2016 policy statement from the federal Administration for Children and Families calls for states to take action in several policy areas, such as 1) creating shared terminology for credentials across early care and education sectors, 2) aligning credentialing and higher education systems, 3) increasing access to professional development and higher education, and 4) tracking their state’s early childhood workforce (for example, through Workforce Registries). Some states, such as Wisconsin, Vermont, Nebraska, Indiana, and North Carolina, have already begun such efforts by engaging in statewide early childhood workforce surveys. However, even with better alignment and access to higher education, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment points out that low wages dissuade early educators from pursuing a higher degree. For many early educators, the cost of higher education is not worth the low wages that await them when they complete their degree.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are 5 pictures that tell the story of why investing in early childhood education and our young children is imperative to building strong children and a strong economy.

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Van Ostern Releases New Education Plan While Sununu Wants To “Gut The Board of Education”

Van Ostern Unveils Plan To Make New Hampshire Higher Education More Affordable And Strengthen State Workforce

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.  Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Today, Colin Van Ostern, Democratic nominee for Governor, unveiled his plan to lower college costs, cut student debt and strengthen New Hampshire’s workforce. New Hampshire has one of the highest levels of in-state tuition and student debt in the nation and Colin has been a leader working to make higher education more affordable in New Hampshire. Colin helped launch College for America, a non-profit, fully-accredited college at Southern New Hampshire University that has now partnered with over 100 employers to enroll thousands of working adult students in certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree programs, most completely debt-free.

“In order to take the next step forward for New Hampshire’s economy, our next Governor must make it a top state priority to lower college costs, cut student debt, and strengthen our workforce,” said Colin Van Ostern, Democratic nominee for Governor.

“We will bring and keep more young people, young families, new businesses, and startups in New Hampshire and will unlock for the potential for strong growth at some of our best employers.  Innovating in higher education isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but I know from my own work helping build a nonprofit college where thousands are earning a respected degree, most debt-free, that we can make real gains: we can bring more accountability, lower costs, and more workforce relevance to higher education and take the next step forward for our state’s economy.”

Colin’s plan will cut costs, cut student debt, and boost our New Hampshire workforce:

  1. Tie increased state support for public higher education funding to clear accountability goals for the first time – including reductions in student debt, in-state enrollment levels, and graduation numbers into sectors of key workforce demand.
  2. Better connect higher education pathways across all academic levels to ensure lower-cost completion – from career and technical education in New Hampshire high schools to dual-credit, dual-admission, community college, and state universities.
  3. Bring employers closer into higher education to boost workforce relevance – building on successful individual internship and job placement partnerships today, expanding employer engagement in program development, and moving forward with job-training programs like Gateway to Work.

READ Colin’s full higher education plan here.

Van Ostern is running against Chris Sununu who has failed to release an education plan for the Granite State. While speaking to voters, Sununu talked about fixing our state’s education system by threatening to “gut the board of education!” 

“With his famous last name and governor father, Chris Sununu never had to worry about paying his way through school,” said NHDP Press Secretary Evan Lukaske. “His approach to dealing with student debt and the crushing cost of higher education consists of nothing more than Republican talking points and promises to gut the board of education. New Hampshire families cannot afford a governor like Chris Sununu who would take our state backwards.”

In 2013, Colin helped launch College for America at Southern New Hampshire University (“CfA”), a non‐profit, fully accredited institution that partners with employers to provide an affordable, competency‐based education for working adults. Colin joined the CfA team after its initial pilot project and shortly before the school’s operational launch, ultimately helping grow the school from from 0 to over 5,000 paying students, and from roughly 15 to almost 400 employees. As Chief Marketing Officer, Colin’s primary responsibility was building the school’s go‐to‐market business strategy and coordinating student recruitment with corporate partnerships and workforce strategy teams; business/enrollment measurement and forecasting; overseeing all new degree launch teams; pricing; and all marketing & communications functions. He was part of the college’s six‐person executive team and part of the SNHU university‐wide management team.  College for America has been recognized for its work helping employers ‘upskill’ employees by national groups including the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the White House, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  

Kuster Introduces Bill to Encourage STEM Education, Prepare Students for Jobs of Tomorrow

 (Washington, DC)Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced legislation to provide new resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in early childhood education. The Early STEM Achievement Act would create a competitive grant program within the Department of Education to assist early childhood STEM programs and train educators to teach STEM subjects, helping prepare children for the workforce of tomorrow.  

“We need to prepare young people for the jobs of the future that will drive economic growth in New Hampshire and nationwide,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to train students in the skills they need. We must ensure all students have access to STEM programs so they are prepared to compete in the 21st century economy. I will continue to work to provide students in the Granite State with STEM education opportunities that will inspire and prepare them for success.

Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of quality early childhood education. For example, research has shown there are lower high-school dropout rates among children who participate in early childhood education programs, demonstrating that the positive results continue for many years. Additionally, STEM lessons support skills like resourcefulness, persistence, and problem-solving ability—all crucial to the 21st century workforce. Kuster is committed to increasing funding for STEM education and other efforts to help students gain the 21stcentury skills they need.

AFT-NH: Maggie Hassan Is Deeply Committed To Students, Teachers And Their Families

Hassan’s commitment to students, teachers and their families has earned the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire

aft sqaureCONCORD – Today, the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire (AFT-NH) announced its endorsement of Governor Maggie Hassan for United States Senate. AFT-NH represents over 3,600 Granite Staters, including teachers, school support staff, police, higher education faculty, and town employees.

“I’m honored to have earned the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire as we work to ensure that students have a strong education at all levels. Coming from a family of educators where a commitment to students runs deep, I understand how important it is to support students, teachers, and their families,”  said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte has stood with her party leaders and special interest backers like the Koch Brothers in supporting reckless policies that would cut funding for K-12 education and make college more expensive for Granite State students. Education is essential to expanding economic opportunity and ensuring that all of our young people are equipped to compete in our changing global economy, and in the United States Senate I will fight to ensure that all students have access to a high quality education.” 

“Throughout her time in office, Governor Maggie Hassan has demonstrated a deep commitment to fighting for students, teachers, and their families. Time and again, Governor Hassan has shown she can bring people together to get results for Granite State students, from K-12 all the way through higher education, and that is exactly the approach that she will take in the Senate,” said AFT-NH President Doug Ley. “Governor Hassan’s strong record in supporting our students stands in sharp contrast with Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has voted for policies that would slash school funding and make college more expensive. AFT-NH is proud to stand with Maggie, because we know that she will always stand with students and teachers in the Senate.”

At the K-12 level, Governor Maggie Hassan has fought to protect funding levels for New Hampshire’s public schools, launched a Science Technology Engineering and Math Task Force to modernize STEM education, developed a new program to partner manufacturing companies with local schools and led efforts to reduce standardized testing in favor of more locally managed assessments – a model that is expanding nationally based on New Hampshire’s success. Governor Hassan has also fought to make college more affordable for students and families while building a 21st century workforce pipeline for our businesses. Under Maggie’s leadership, New Hampshire froze in-state tuition at our universities for the first time in 25 years and reduced tuition at community colleges.

In the Senate, Governor Hassan will fight to expand early childhood education, focus on STEM and encourage more participation by girls and young women, give New Hampshire schools the flexibility to put federal dollars to the best possible use and continue the Granite State’s leadership in empowering local school districts, students and teachers. Maggie will also fight to expand Pell Grants, lower interest rates on student loans, allow borrowers to refinance at today’s lower rates and work toward the goal of debt-free public college for all. She will also work to expand apprenticeship opportunities and make federal higher education grants and loans more flexible to support adult workers who are learning new skills. 

Meanwhile, Senator Kelly Ayotte has put her party leaders and special interests backers ahead of Granite State students. Senator Ayotte has said she would eliminate or drastically cut the Department of Education, and has sided with the Koch Brothers in supporting reckless budgets that included steep cuts to K-12 education and slashed funding for Pell Grants. Ayotte is also pushing a student loan bill that has been called a “sweetheart deal” for Wall Street.

Mark Connolly Releases Education Policy Plan

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Van Ostern says Sununu’s Pledge to “Gut the Board of Education” is “The Sort of Insult and Threat You’d Expect from Donald Trump”

At Debate last week, Sununu said, “I’m Going To Gut The Board Of Education”

Teacher calls threat “offensive” and School Board member says it’s “totally irresponsible”

Colin Van Ostern

Colin Van Ostern announces his run for Governor of New Hampshire in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, October 8, 2015.
Copyright 2015 Rob Strong

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Yesterday, educators and education advocates joined Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern in a conference call, where they condemned Chris Sununu for pledging to “Gut the Board of Education” at last week’s Republican gubernatorial debate.

“We need to invest in education, not ‘gut’ education in our state,” said Colin Van Ostern, Democratic candidate for Governor. “Chris Sununu’s rhetoric is as bad as Ted Gatsas’s record. We’ve seen what happens when that sort of a threat gets put into practice, that’s the attitude Ted Gatsas had as Mayor in Manchester. We’ve seen budgets slashed, class sizes ‘swollen’ and surrounding towns going out of the school district. Now, unfortunately Chris Sununu is trying to out-Gatsas Ted Gatsas.  […] This is the sort of insult and threat that you’d expect from Donald Trump.  A Governor needs to bring people together to solve problems, not tear them apart and insult them. As Governor, I will work with teachers, parents and education leaders to make sure every kid has the chance at a world-class education.”

New Hampshire educators also offered a stern rebuke of Chris Sununu’s remark, including Karen Ladd who has worked very closely with New Hampshire’s Board of Education to deliver innovative and award-winning curriculum to her students at Sanborn High School.

“Chris Sununu’s words are offensive and they treat educators and education leaders like enemies. I was deeply offended – as a teacher and as a taxpayer,” said Karen Ladd, an art teacher at Sanborn High School in Kingston. “New Hampshire has some of the best schools in the country and by cooperating with education leaders at the state school board, we’re decreasing reliance on standardized tests and other states look to NH as a model for what we are doing.”

She added that the Board “has had a profound impact on my ability to provide the best educational opportunities for my own students. Having the Board of Education available to help monitor and coordinate our efforts, to provide this education regardless of zip codes and where students are in the state, really ensures that I can spend more time working with my students and design an engaging curriculum. Frankly, we need a Governor that will support this joint effort, not undermine it.”

“The very thought that somebody could say that we should gut the Board of Ed is just totally irresponsible,” added Leslie Want, a Manchester School Board member who represents Ward 4.

UPDATED: Ted Gatsas Releases His New Education Plan Expecting People To Ignore Manchester’s Education Problems

The Manchester School District is underfunded and overcrowded but Ted Gatsas is praising it in his candidacy for Governor

Today, Ted Gatsas, current Mayor of Manchester and candidate for Governor of New Hampshire, released his “Comprehensive Plan for Education in NH.” Education is always a crucial part of any campaign for Governor. Gatsas’ plan focuses on  “choice” and “funding.”

Ted GatsasLike many Republicans, Gatsas is pushing more school voucher programs to allow tax dollars to be used to pay for private schools giving parents a “choice” in their child’s education. At the same time he is talking about the unbalanced funding problems plaguing school districts throughout the state.

The irony is the two are directly connected and conflict each other. By taking taxpayer money away from public schools this further reduces the amount of money available to public schools.

Executive Councilor and Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern, was quick to criticize Gatsas’ new plan.

“Ted Gatsas’ education proposals threaten to cut funds for our public schools, stifle innovation and invite dysfunction and controversy — just like his failed record as Mayor has resulted in deep budget cuts to Manchester schools, increased class sizes, and prompted surrounding communities to withdraw from the School District,” said Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern. “As Governor, I will work to keep New Hampshire moving forward by strengthening our schools, our workforce and our economy.”

“Mayor Gatsas’s legacy of deep cuts to public education has led to layoffs and increased class sizes—which, in turn, have meant higher property taxes for city residents as surrounding communities have left the Manchester school system. Our state can do better than that, and we must,” said Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor. “As Governor, I’ll work with mayors and local officials to deliver a world-class education to every New Hampshire student, beginning in preschool and culminating at graduation with career-ready skills relevant to our innovation economy.”

 Van Ostern and Connolly was not the only one to blast Gatsas on his double speak about supporting eduction.  Former Alderman, school board member and mother of children in Manchester public schools Joyce Craig, spoke out against Gatsas’ new plan. 

“If Ted Gatsas’ new ‘education policy’ looks anything like his actual record on education, we can expect proposals that result in cuts, layoffs and struggling schools. Gatsas’ tenure as mayor and chairman of the school board have led to a loss of over $10M of tuition revenue from Auburn, Candia and Hooksett, large class sizes, and fewer course offerings.  While some good things are happening in Manchester public schools, this loss of tuition revenue has resulted in an increase in taxes for Manchester property owners.  If the solution is simple, why hasn’t Mayor Gatsas worked with state and local officials to improve education for all students in Manchester? Ted Gatsas should get it done in Manchester before he starts proposing statewide programs.”

Over the past few years, the city of Manchester has been plagued with funding issues and overcrowding.  In 2012, NHPR reported that some classrooms had more than 40 students, ten more than allowed by the teacher’s contract allowed at the time.  The overcrowding forced the towns of Hookset and Candia to leave the Manchester School District resulting in a $300,000 loss in revenue to the school district.

“We had students sitting on the floor with a clipboard,” Jim O’Connell, the president of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Hillside Middle School told the New York Times. “It’s one degree separated from a 1700s classroom with chalk and a slate.”

The Manchester schools are grossly underfunded. “The district’s growth has not kept up with its tax revenues, and Manchester now has some of the state’s lowest per-pupil spending, at $10,283.77 per student (the state average is $13,159.15)” wrote the NY Times.

Would the Gatsas plan to overturn the Claremont Decision that provided a foundation for all public school funding in New Hampshire, help all the schools in the state? How will his plan to take taxpayer money and give it to charter schools or religious institutions help the students who remain in the public school system? Do we want the problems plaguing the Manchester School District to become the problems of all school districts in NH?


Post updated to include statement from Mark Connolly

New Report Shows The Underlying Issues In The American Workforce

Over the last forty years we have lost millions of high paying manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs did not require any advanced degrees and any specialized training was down by the employer or the union.

At the same time parents began pushing their children to go to college because in the 1980’s college educated workers were in short supply and were paid accordingly.

Now almost every employer is requiring some level of college education to even be considered for employment. This has created a new problem, underemployment.

Everyone knows about unemployment, the percent of workers who are unemployed and are currently seeking employment. Currently we have a national unemployment rate of 5.5%. Considering that in October of 2009, deep into the great recession, our national unemployment peaked at 10%, 5.5% means we have made great progress.

But have we really? Yes, the number of unemployed people in the U.S. has been cut in half but that is not the entire story.

During the recession when millions were out of work, struggling to pay their bills, people would take any job they could. People with bachelors’ degrees were working at McDonalds just to pay their outrageous student loans. This is what we refer to as underemployment, where a worker is employed in a job below their education and skill level.

underemployment_headerToday, PayScale Inc released a new report, “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker,” highlighting America’s underemployment problem.

“There are many economic indicators followed by business and policy leaders to gauge the health of an economy. One notable such report is the monthly jobs report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes unemployment figures. However, unemployment only tells part of the story. At PayScale, we believe another crucial indicator is underemployment – people who are either working at jobs that don’t leverage their education or seeking full-time work, but are working part-time. Therefore, we created our latest report tying underemployment figures to educational choices, jobs, and gender,” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist, PayScale.

To conduct their research PayScale interviewed nearly one million people over a two-year time frame starting in March of 2014.

underemplyment_chart05aPayScale found that 46% of those surveyed consider themselves underemployed. Of these respondents, 76% say they are not using their education or training while 24% say they are working only part-time but would like full-time work.

“There are two underlying themes in this report: The importance of education and the persistence of the gender gap. The report notes underemployment decreases as educational attainment increases. Also, in addition to a pay gap and an opportunities gap, we see the gender gap materialize in underemployment as well: Women report a greater percentage of underemployment than their male counterparts,” added Bardaro.

Education level does make a difference. PayScale found that Medical Doctors have the lowest level of underemployment at 30%. That is a vast difference when compared to the 50% who claim to be underemployed with an Associates Degree.

The report shows that just over 40% of those with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) report being underemployed. Of the underemployed MBA degree holders, 90% reported they are not using their education and training.

underemplyment_chart10When we break down the numbers by gender, women have a slight edge over men in underemployment. 49% of woman report being underemployed compared to 42% of men. Women are also 7% more likely to be underemployed due to working part-time when they really want to be working full-time.

“These statistics may be a reflection of the gender opportunity gap,” wrote PayScale. “According to PayScale’s research, as employees climb the corporate ladder, men are often promoted more quickly than women, and women generally report more negative feelings about job satisfaction, job stress, and communication with their employers. (Learn more about the gender opportunity gap and the gender pay gap in PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap.)”

You can find out more about PayScale’s report here.

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