Manchester, N.H. – Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig has released her “Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future” plan, detailing the approach she would take as mayor to improve schools in the Queen City.
The quality of Manchester schools have declined significantly under Ted Gatsas. In the 2009-10 NH Dept. of Education assessment, 64% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level. By 2016-17, only 28% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level.
Math comprehension rates have seen a similar decline under Gatsas. In 2009-10, 65% of Manchester 5th graders met grade-level standards in math. In 2016-17, that number had dropped to 22%. This problem is magnified by the fact that some Manchester students don’t have the textbooks or workbooks that teachers say they need to succeed in math.
Manchester students today have some of the lowest reading and math comprehension rates in the state, and these figures have become worse while Ted Gatsas has been mayor. This problem is compounded since Mayor Gatsas caused surrounding towns to leave the Manchester school district, costing the city approximately $15 million in revenue.
Joyce Craig’s approach involves working with parents, administrators, and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education, ensuring students’ safety, and starting a conversation about bringing students back to the Manchester school district.
Joyce Craig issued the following statement:
“The facts are clear that the education that the city of Manchester offers its students has declined over the past eight years. In the latest New Hampshire Department of Education assessment, only 28% of our 3rd graders are reading at grade level. These numbers are among the lowest of any school district in the state. This has to change.
“I believe in Manchester public schools and in our hardworking teachers. My plan focuses on improving outcomes for all students. I will engage our community in a discussion about how to put our children back on the right track and fully prepare them for the future. Ensuring a good school district is pivotal for attracting businesses and residents, driving economic development, and building a stronger Manchester.”
Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future
Strong schools are critical for a thriving community and a growing economy. A good school district helps to attract and retain businesses and residents, drives economic development, provides opportunities for our children, and helps prevent crime and delinquency. There has never been a more pivotal moment to impact the direction of Manchester’s public schools than right now.
As Mayor, I will:
- Ensure students and teachers have access to basic tools such as books, workbooks, online resources, and technology.
- Provide Manchester teachers with on-going professional development opportunities to improve outcomes for students.
- Modernize curriculum and course offerings in our schools to prepare students for the 21st century economy and the innovative industries and jobs in Manchester – establish process for evaluation of existing curriculum on regular basis.
- Establish a Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative to provide young people with career experience, training, internships, and opportunities in new careers.
- Fight to ensure Manchester is receiving our fair share of state and federal funding – advocate for special education, adequacy funding and against downshifting from the state.
- Update strategic plan and develop measurable goals and benchmarks for the district focused on improving student achievement.
- Support and grow workforce ready educational opportunities at MST, Central, Memorial and West.
- Repair broken relationships with the former sending towns, Hooksett, Auburn and Candia, and seek new relationships to bring students to Manchester. The city has lost over $15 million in revenue from sending towns since these students left the school district, which has increased the tax-burden for Manchester residents.
- Work with our parents, administrators and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education to start foundation for success. Currently, only 28% of third graders in Manchester Public Schools are reading at grade level.
- Engage in honest and open communication with parents about safety concerns in our schools and work to immediately implement solutions when problems are identified.
- Foster trust and collaboration between the School Board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
- Work with city businesses, local colleges, non-profits, and community leaders to develop public/private partnerships and utilize all available resources to improve outcomes for students.
- Reinstitute Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and encourage student representation on the School Board.
- Bring back the Gifted and Talented Program – educate parents about online resources/VLACs opportunities.
- Ensure that students who utilize special education services are offered every opportunity to succeed. The Manchester School District has been repeatedly criticized by the NH Department of Education for failing to serve this population and the school district has settled well over $1 million in lawsuits brought against the district in the past two years alone.
- Work with parents, educators and the school board to evaluate and implement policies to reduce class sizes.
Joyce Craig has now released comprehensive plans on all her priorities for Manchester: education, economic growth, city management, safety and the opioid crisis, and transparency. All of Joyce’s plans can be found at joycecraig.org/plans.