Josiah Bartlett Center - Dickens, Budgets, and Charter Schools

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center

Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire
Two issues this week. Charter Schools and Charles Dickens. I enjoyed writing the piece which uses my favorite Charles Dickens quote to pass on the advice of Mr. Micawber to today’s lawmakers (though, of course, you and I could benefit by reminding ourselves of this truism now and then). You don’t have to be the greatest Dickens fan to believe that Micawber’s insight is as profound as it is simple.
The second issues unfolded last week. Distressingly, charter schools are sometimes used as a political football and otherwise sensible, seemingly non-controversial proposals get caught in the political vortex. That happened with a bill related to a modest charter funding change. Problematically, I made a mistake and needed to correct it in a column two days later. Both columns are reproduced here. Everything I said in the first column about misleading information was true with the exception of authorship. Charter schools were being attacked with incorrect information designed to confuse the issue. That information was contradicted by the official fiscal note produced by the department of education. I assume that the department wasn’t the author of the contradictory and incorrect information. I was wrong. In fact, the department authored and stands by both the right information and its incorrect rebuttal. If one is right the other is wrong but they have the same author. No wonder legislators were confused and changed their mind. It is very sad but the attack on charter schools continues despite their amazing success and is at least somewhat more muted here than in places like New York City.

The great economic principle of our time comes not from an economist or a banker but from the great Mr. Micawber, a somewhat comic character created by Charles Dickens.  Wilkins Micawber had figured out the central organizing fact of modern life when he suggested to young David Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the weary scene, and  – and in short you are for ever floored.”...Click here to keep reading


In Wednesday’s column about a misleading attack on charter school funding, I made a big mistake. I want to correct my mistake about the source of the very misleading information that was circulated and explain to you how I made the mistake and the problem with the information. It’s important that you feel free to agree or disagree with my conclusions but not have cause to doubt my information....Click here to keep reading


A modest normalization of charter school funding, although long overdue, has become a political football and subject of misinformed and purposely misleading arguments to try and kill it. The truth, easily discovered, is that the proposal covers fewer than 2% of students and involves less than 2% of state education funding and continues to ask charter schools to prosper with less than half the funding of traditional schools....Click here to keep reading