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Entries in School Choice (129)


Levell For NH House - Endorsement of Andrew Hemingway for Governor 


Endorsement of Andrew Hemingway for Governor


June 11, 2014

As someone who believes we must leave our children a world better than we inherited, I endorse Andrew Hemingway in his candidacy for Governor of New Hampshire. Andrew believes that every child deserves an opportunity to receive an excellent education -- regardless of the zip code in which they live -- and that teachers should be freed from the shackles of one-size-fits-all standards and testing. Excellent education fits each child's unique needs and goals, regardless of where that education occurs. Schools are not defined by brick and mortar, but the joy and love of learning they impart to our children.
Michelle Levell
NH House of Representatives candidate for Windham
Director, School Choice for NH

For more information, please contact


NH Center For Innovative Schools - Charter school news and updates 

In this issue

Dear charter school supporters,


With summer vacation approaching and the legislative session coming to a close, we thought that it would be a good time to share the latest news from the schools and take a look back at the legislative history. For more up to the minute news on everything charter school visit our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

MACS Scheduled to Meet with Commissioner Barry

Founders of the MicroSociety Academy Charter School project are one step closer to their goal. The group has notified their supporters that they will be meeting with Commissioner Barry in June and presenting their application before the Board in July. This group of talented educators, parents and alumni have worked for almost three years on this project and we are very happy to see them finally move forward. See you at the July board meeting!

State First for ASD

The Academy for Science and Design recently became the first school in the state to have its own school based, Civil Air Patrol Squadron. The Humphrey Cadet Squadron was officially activated in a ceremony on May 29th, 2014. The Squadron is comprised of 30 young men and women studying aerospace education, leadership and emergency services.

Gate City Charter Signs Lease
Supporters were excited to hear that the Gate City Charter School group has signed a lease on a facility in Merrimack. While founders were disappointed that they could not find a suitable facility in Nashua, they have already begun the process of contacting potential parents and working with them to create plans to carpool. Read more about their plans in this article from Barbara Taormina of the Union Leader.
CATA Students Discuss Social Justice
Students at CATA had a wonderful opportunity recently to discuss social justice when a special guest dropped by to speak. Dr. Sonya Shropshire-Friel visited CATA's American Experience class to share her parents' personal experiences marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. What an exciting opportunity!
Founders Academy - Full Steam Ahead


The Founders Academy Charter School group is in full gear getting ready to open its doors this September. TFA will offer students in Manchester a classical education including studies in history, leadership, ethics, debate, business and finance and classical literature in addition to standard high school curriculum of math, science, languages and the arts. The application period for the 14/15 school year has closed however there may be some slots available in certain grades. We would encourage you to check them out and learn more. 

GSAA Joins Derry Memorial Day Parade
Students and staff from Granite State Arts Academy took a break from their hard work by taking part in the Derry Memorial Day Parade. The group received a warm welcome from residents and it looks like the had a great time. It must have been quite a sight to see as according to their webpage:"15 students, 5 parents, one very cute dog, a little 1971 Fiat and the adorable daughter of Todd Abernathy shouting "beep beep" from the moonroof" participated in the fun.
Click here to read an article by Kelly Sennot of the Hippo Press and her interview with founder Wendie Leweck.
NHPR Program on Charter Schools
NHPR's "The Exchange" recently did a program on public charter schools. If you have not heard it already we would encourage you to check it out.

Eileen Liponis, Executive Director of the NH Public Charter School Association 

Representative Mel Meyler, member of House Education and former Executive Director of  NEA New Hampshire 

Sam Evans-Brown, NHPR Education reporter.


Ms. Liponis did a wonderful job conveying her belief (and one we share), that children deserve options in public education. Allowing children and their parents a choice is not about criticizing traditional public schools but empowering children that may not fit in a traditional setting or who may benefit from an alternative approach to learning.


As a former director of the NH-NEA we don't often agree with Representative Meyler on  many charter school issues but we always appreciate his willingness to have a thoughtful policy discussion without resorting to accusations that charter schools are trying to destroy the education system or take over the world. This gives us hope for increased collaboration in the future.

We were happy to see Sam Evans-Brown representing the "neutral position" on the panel. Sam has a strong grasp of public charter law and history. You would be hard pressed to find a more appropriate person to serve in this role.

Parents Must do their Part

While leadership in both parties claim to support public charter schools the truth is often much more complicated. While we would hope that all legislators could see the value of giving children increased options in public education, we understand that not everyone is going to agree.


What we cannot accept however is the way that some politicians try to have it both ways on this issue by claiming to support these public schools while simultaneously voting against them. As hard as it might be for some of our readers to hear, parents you must do your part. Do your due diligence, talk to your local representative, ask them about their support for public charter schools and then confirm their words with their actions. Change is not possible until you stand up and take action.
Bills that have blocked or encouraged new schools

We have created an interactive timeline that examines a series of bills between 2002 & 2014 that were used to either block new charter schools or encourage them.


HB298 Would have allowed the SBE to authorize public charter schools. Bill passed both the House & Senate but was vetoed by Governor Jeanne Shaheen on 5/5/02.
HB135 This bill established the first pilot program allowing the SBE to authorize public charter schools. This bill was signed by Governor Benson on 7/18/2003.
HB2 Enacted a 2 year moratorium prohibiting new public schools.
HB2 Extended the moratorium on new schools by 2 years (2009-2011).
HB1495 Removed moratorium 1 year early in effort to win federal RttT funding.
SB82 Removed the cap of 20 schools and made the SBE a permanent authorizer.
HB2 Attempted to pass another 2 year moratorium & other harmful provisions (killed in senate).
HB1449 Bill would have made it easier to block new schools (killed in senate).


All charter bills submitted between 2010 & 2014

This interactive timeline examines all public charter school bills from 2010-2014. The record shows that between 2010-2012 a number of supportive bills were passed including; a bill to remove the cap on new public schools, a bill to make charter schools eligible for lease aid, a bill making mature schools eligible to take on long term debt and a bill which clarified costs associated with special education.

In contrast the 2013 session began with a number of harmful provisions placed inside HB2. These included; a moratorium on new public schools, a provision releasing the DOE from its duty to apply for federal funds, a provision prohibiting the DOE from requesting additional funds (if needed), requiring all enrollment changes to be approved by the SBE and increasing the number of program audits required of charter schools.
The Senate Finance Committee rejected these changes which ultimately saved the state over $5 million in federal funds, ensured that the newly opened schools would not lose their federal funding and will allow four new schools to open in September of 2014.
State Board of Education approves Gate City request


On March 26, the SBE approved an enrollment request by the founders of the Gate City Charter School for the Arts. Gate City is scheduled to open in September, school's founders sought to increase it's first year enrollment by 40 students. Founders stated that this would allow for more reasonable growth, as well as providing additional revenue to ensure the school's ability to cover facility lease costs. "The motion was adopted by a 5 - 1 vote of the Board, with Gregory Odell voting in the opposition, and with the Chairman voting." 





Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn released the following statement today on the confirmation of anti-school choice activist Bill Duncan to the State Board of Education:


"Bill Duncan is the wrong person for this important position because he is a radical anti-school choice activist who has fought tirelessly to limit education opportunities for the needy children. Governor Hassan's decision to nominate Mr. Duncan was simply a favor for the teachers unions who also oppose school choice and are bankrolling her campaign.


"Governor Hassan continues to prove that she would rather serve liberal special interest groups than stand up for New Hampshire's families. Her elitist and callous disregard for the most vulnerable student in our community reminds voters that it is time to replace her with a responsible Republican in November."


Josiah Bartlett Center - The Governor's Inappropriate Appointment and the State's Fiscal Crisis 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center

Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire


Governor Hassan made a mistake by nominating someone engaged in an ongoing lawsuit against the state to regulate the area over which he’s still suing. The mistake is not one of policy but one of propriety. The nomination can and should be withdrawn before tomorrow’s vote of the Executive Council.

So the governor has nominated someone to the State Board of Education who is currently suing the state over education policy. He didn’t once upon a time sue the state. He hasn’t expressed concerns. He is currently engaged in lawsuit – a lawsuit named after him – and is going to oversee that area – the area of his ONGOING lawsuit. Does the governor not see that this is a trifle odd? 
Click here to keep reading


The $400 million hole in the state’s budget I described two weeks ago has caused the state to be placed on a negative fiscal watch. Some would ignore or minimize the crisis but the problem is large, structural, and will require more than a small tweak to fix.

This past week, the national bond rating agency Standard and Poor’s lowered the state’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ Very quickly, the other major national group, Moody’s, followed suit and advised investors and anyone watching the state’s finances that New Hampshire’s outlook was negative. The bond rating was not lowered but both major fiscal watchdogs are advising the world that New Hampshire’s outlook is negative. I think it’s fair to say that this is not putting our best foot forward as we look to attract jobs and investment to the state. Click here to keep reading


NH Center For Innovative Schools - Polarizing nominee threatens to politicize State Board of Education 


Self described political activist with history of alarming rhetoric, public school parents feel betrayed.

The Governor's nomination of a self described "political activist", with a history of alarming rhetoric regarding public charter schools threatens to politicize the State Board of Education. The SBE is a place for diverse opinions but it is unreasonable to appoint someone who exhibits such a clear bias to a body meant to represent all New Hampshire students. The nomination couldn't come at a worse time, NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL WEEK. Who was advising the Governor on this nomination?


Criticism is swift from all corners of the political spectrum


Nashua Telegraph - "Hassan's choice is a polarizing one" 

"...a few things about the Duncan nomination that we think reflect poorly on the Hassan administration. First and foremost, it seems that the governor went out of her way to choose the most polarizing figure she could find. Source: 


Union Leader - "Killing innovation: Hassan nominee opposes her agenda"

"Hassan has nominated Bill Duncan, New Hampshire's leading opponent of providing parents and children with opportunities to escape bad public schools." Source: 


Charles Arlinghaus - "The governor's inappropriate nominee"

"Bill Duncan... is regarded by the charter school community as leader of their opposition. He has said "charter schools are a political statement, not an educational improvement." He's referred to charter schools as "dismantling public education" and called them a "distraction." Despite that, he says he supports charter schools. You can see, however, why the charter schools of the state might be skeptical." Source: 


Senator Jeb Bradley

"I can not support Governor Hassan's nomination of Bill Duncan to the New Hampshire Board of Education.Mr. Duncan is not only a longtime opponent of charter schools..." 



Associated Press - "Hassan Nominates Public School Activist To Board Of Education"

"...nomination of longtime education activist Bill Duncan to the New Hampshire Board of Education is drawing fire from supporters of charter schools..." Source: 


Union Leader - "State Board of Education nominee had sued state over education funding"

"Executive Councilor Joe Kenney said he will be voting against Duncan's nomination. "Mr. Duncan's record as private citizen suggests he is against charter schools and therefore I cannot support him,". Source: 


Seacoast Online - Nomination for N.H. education board ripped by GOP

"Opposition to the news was swift.. "How can you be on the state Board of Education while suing the state over its existing laws?" said Hemingway...The State Board of Education is a place for many opinions, but it is irresponsible to appoint an anti-charter school activist to regulate something he wants to destroy," said Havenstein. Source: 



Examples of past rhetoric include:

"Charter schools are a political statement not an educational improvement". Source:


"I always consider policy discussions about privatization - proposals to dismantle public education and replace it with charters, vouchers and home schools  - a distraction..." Source:


"You see the national education reform debate and it looks like an existential threat to public education...They'll keep the public schools open for the hardest to educate kids. And they are building separate charter and voucher systems for what they consider the most desirable kids. Source: 5/13/13 speech to NH superintendents 


The NH Center for Innovative Schools is a NH registered non-profit whose members are committed to quality public options for all children. We offer assistance to all New Hampshire charter schools and groups wanting to learn more about these innovative programs. Our services are free, we do not charge or accept payment for our assistance.