Coburn Announces Blueprint to a Quality Education

Manchester - Republican Gubernatorial candidate Jim Coburn today announced his Blueprint to a quality education. Quality and education reform are critical for New Hampshire’s future. That is why it is so important to settle the education funding issue and shift our focus to education reform. This Blueprint is meant to be a stand alone document that address’s the aspects of a quality education in New Hampshire. It is being released separately from our Blueprint for Education Funding because the two issues are separate and not necessarily related to producing a quality education. As illustrated by the continued rise in education spending, more money doesn’t necessarily produce better results.

“We need to move beyond our yearly focus on reinventing the wheel on education funding and begin shifting that focus and energy on providing our students the highest quality education possible. Education quality should not and can not be measured by the amount of money spent on education; the true measure of success will be in the results. As Governor I will make the Quality of education and the reforms needed a top priority of my administration.” Said Jim Coburn

Policy Overview

Quality and education reform are critical for New Hampshire’s future. That is why it is so important to settle the education funding issue and shift our focus to education reform. This Blueprint is meant to be a stand alone document that address’s the aspects of a quality education in New Hampshire. It is being released separately from our Blueprint for Education Funding because the two issues are separate and not necessarily related to producing a quality education. As illustrated by the continued rise in education spending, more money doesn’t necessarily produce better results.

New Hampshire will spend a record $2.3 billion on K -12 education in the 2006 -2007fiscal year. A state wide average of $9,098 per pupil - up $3,089 from a$6,009.31 per pupil rate in 1998-99. This is an increase of 50% in just seven short years. This increase in spending has not been met with a proportional increase in quality in our schools. A Coburn Administration will ensure that each and every hard-earned tax dollar is spent in a way that will maximize student achievement without any state increases in taxes. Success is never final, and reform is never finished. The Coburn Administration will support the following initiatives to ensure that every student receives a years worth of knowledge in a years worth of time:

Success = Rewards for Teacher s, Principals and Students

Raise teacher compensation for teachers performing in the top twenty -five percent in the state. Currently on average New Hampshire teachers are making $45,263 a year, while their administrative counterparts’ salaries in some cases are well into the six figure range. We should make it a priority to compensate our top performing teachers as an incentive to positive results.

According to recent reports, fifty percent of new teachers leave the teaching profession within their first five years on the job, New Hampshire communities will need the tools and incentives to recruit and attract the best and brightest teachers to their districts. Because highly effective teachers are a key component to each student's educational success, Jim Coburn will work with the Legislature to provide local school districts more flexibility to increase compensation for both instructional personnel and school based administrators.

Truth in Spending: More Money to the Classroom

To further increase teacherseffectiveness, the Coburn Administration will require school districts to p ut money where it matters most, improving the education of our students in the classroom. As a requirement to state aid of local education, the Coburn Administration will require school districts to spend at least 70% on education funding in classrooms by 2015. New Hampshire school districts currently spend over $17 million dollars in top administrative salaries alone; we need to ensure that more money goes directly into our classrooms. Districts will have the flexibility to go below the 70% mark to meet specific and immediate needs but will be required to apply for a waiver if funding formula dips below the 70% mark.

Furthermore, Jim Coburn believes that transparency and accountability in funding will illuminate areas where cost -saving measures can be implemented and where additional funding may be needed. Accordingly, the Coburn Administration will implement a Truth in Spending initiative. Under this initiative, every parent will receive a financial report card, providing detailed, easy-to-understand information on how education dollars are being spent at their local schools with a clear delineation of how much of their tax dollars are being spent in the classroom versus administration, and how that compares with other school districts statewide. By providing this detailed and powerful information, education officials at all levels can implement cost saving measures such as consolidated administrative services and data warehousing to ensure that more education dollars are actually spent where it matters most - in the classroom on students and teachers.

Let them Teach!

Jim Coburn believes that teachers should have the most productive and efficient work environments possible so that they can achieve their lif e s calling: to serve the students of New Hampshire. Currently teachers who focus on one subject area are required to log 75 hours for their recertification process. While ensuring teachers are keeping up to date with their areas of course study is important, the Coburn Administration will be committed to collaboratively work with the State Board of Education and the Legislature to implement measures that will reduce teachers paperwork and data collection while ensuring high teaching standards. He will listen to teachers recommendations to streamline reports from the state, district and school level and reduce other administrative burdens that currently take teacher s focus away from teaching.

School Improvement

467 schools participated in state testing in 2005-2006. Of the 457 receiving AYP reports 273 made AYP in all areas (60%) 184 did not make AYP in one or more areas (40%). With 40% of New Hampshire’s public schools failing to meet the No Child Left Behind Act’s adequate yearly progress we must act as a state to give the districts the guidance they need to improve our schools. Additionally the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test show that less than half of New Hampshire students scored “proficient” or better in the subject area’s of: math, reading and science. The Coburn Administration will work toward the goal of not having a single failing school. Under the Coburn Administration, we will work with the legislature and the Department of Education to provide additional members to the DOE’s existing School Improvement Coaches program. These School improvement coaches will undertake an honest assessment, in consultation with the local school district, of a schools environment, including the need for capital improvements, the effectiveness of faculty and staff, compensation and incentives for faculty and staff, technology infrastructure, mentoring, and parental and community involvement. Because the reasons for failure at a particular school are oftentimes systemic, the Coburn Administration will be committed to a multi-year design and implementation schedule that will include measurable goals and objectives for each failing school. The DOE will work with teachers, administrative personnel, parents, alumni, businesses, local governments, and students to formulate a multifaceted program of policies and practices to assist failing public schools.

Excellence through Civics and Public Service

As a State Legislator, Jim Coburn has firsthand knowledge of how rewarding commitment to public service can be. New Hampshire’s proud history of a citizen legislature makes New Hampshire a fertile breading ground for excellence though civics and public service. Jim Coburn will stress increased emphasis on teaching the history, meaning and significance of the New Hampshire and United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and concepts of equality, liberty, free enterprise, and popular sovereignty. To bolster civics education in our public schools the Coburn Administration will encourage hands-on and real-life learning through partnerships with local government and civic leaders. Through this partnership, teachers and students receive hands-on learning in the meaning, principles, and responsibilities of all aspects of government.

The Coburn Governorship will encourage state and local leaders in the public and private sectors to partner with their local schools to teach students the value of public service and instill a lifelong understanding and appreciation for our representative democracy and capitalist economy.

Community Gateways for Students

Throughout his tenure in public service, Jim Coburn has been inspired by the ingenuity of New Hampshires local community leaders. These local leaders understand that a programs success is dependent upon a sense of ownership by those who live and work in that community. The Coburn Administration will work to create public-private partnerships with local school districts, community colleges, youth support organizations, parent-teacher organizations and local governments to provide instructional programs, summer academies, career academies and tutoring in students local communities. These public-private partnerships will provide gateways to the world for students who may not otherwise have the resources or opportunities to fully realize their potential beyond the classroom.

Better Classroom Management, Character Development Education

Jim Coburn understands that interruptions caused by a lack of discipline in the classroom will render any other education reform meaningless. Accordingly, he will work with the State Board of Education, universities and community colleges, business leaders, and parents to implement better training for teachers in classroom management skills. In addition, he will continue to emphasize the importance of the character development programs that currently exist for New Hampshire s students.

Safe Schools

Parents must feel confident that teachers and administrators are able to protect children in the face of bullying, drugs, guns, terrorism, natural disasters, gangs, and other threats. Currently our school districts have no comprehensive plan to deal with all these issues that threaten the safety of our children. The Coburn Administration will work closely with local school districts to create a child safety program that will further train parents, teachers and administrators on techniques to protect our children.

Success for Every New Hampshire Student Increasing

New Hampshire’s Graduation Rate

While New Hampshire's high school graduation rate is improving, we still must do more. Our state's economy can't afford for 20 percent of our young people to drop out before they graduate from high school . The Coburn Administration will work closely with the State Board of Education to implement a Strategic Plan to improve New Hampshires high school graduation to 95% by 2015.

The best way to increase graduation rates is to link learning to a students personal experiences and future career aspirations. Jim Coburn believes that providing students the opportunity to personalize their education at an early stage is important and will provide the rigor and relevance in middle and high schools. The Coburn Administration will work with the local school districts and the New Hampshire Department of Education to ensure that career education becomes a core educational expectation for those students not seeking a college degree and that middle and high school students focus on career preparation through rigorous and relevant academics and industry certification. Jim Coburn believes that the student who takes a personal interest in a career while in school will have a greater commitment to graduating from high school.

Virtual Schools

Toda y s students are technologically savvy at an early age. The Coburn Governorship will work with local school districts to implement all available tools to capture a childs mind, including distance e-learning initiatives. Students who take cyber courses proceed at their own pace. If they need to listen to a lecture a second time, or think about a question for awhile, they may do so without fearing that they will holdback the rest of the class. Through cyber courses, students can complete a degree more quickly, or repeat failed courses without the indignity of being in a class with younger students. Students have access to an incredible variety of enrichment courses, or can participate in internships or work and still graduate with their classes.

Cyber education has many other advantages:

  • It permits students in small, rural, or low-wealth school districts to take specialized courses that would ordinarily not be available to them.
  • It provides home schooled students with instruction in subjects their parents might not be able to teach, such as foreign languages or computer skills.
  • And, in an age when many of our schools are overcrowded, cyber learning makes financial sense, too, because schools using distance learning do not need to modernize or build new buildings in order to provide quality cyber instruction .

As Governor, he will seek public private partnerships so that access to quality courses for elementary, middle, and high school students throughout New Hampshire will be available at any time, any place, for any path at any pace.

Home Education

In 2005 -2006 enrollments show that more than 4,500 students were educated at home. The Coburn Administration will defend every familys freedom to explore educational opportunities and teach their children in the home environment without extensive state regulation. In addition, the Coburn Administration will ensure that home schools have adequate information about and access to the courses offered by the Department of Educations virtual school initiatives. He will also continue to protect home school students access to public school facilities for athletic and other extracurricular activities in order to make their home schooling experience more complete.