One-size Fits All Schools Fit None

I am receiving quite a number of emails from the public regarding the current school budget in Merrimack. I've taken each and every one into account as the budget committee goes through the budget process. The problem is, with our one-size fits all approach to school, you can’t please everyone.

Currently in Merrimack our student population is steadily decreasing as it is all over the state of NH. As a result the school board must make hard choices as to which positions if any should be cut. As much as we all value teachers we can’t have teachers teaching to empty rooms. And with cutting teaching positions, also comes the responsibility of having to cut classes. Here is where no one wins. Parent A is upset if you cut music for their talented child. Parent B is upset if you cut sports. Parent C is upset to see any advanced placement courses cut. Parent D is upset over courses for kids who need extra help. And the rest of the town is upset because taxpayers are footing the bill for teachers who have 4 or 5 kids in a classroom.

So what are we to do? Merrimack’s answer was to join with other towns and sue the state for more money. But this is simply taking money out of your right pocket to put in your left. Now state legislators are being told they must define and fund an “adequate” education and are told they must do so without increasing the tax burden on the citizens who don’t want to pay at the local level.

But the flaw isn’t with the way we fund education, it’s how we run education and that’s what everyone seems to be missing. We try to do everything in a single school. When you apply to a college does everyone go to the same schools? Of course not. Some colleges such as the one I attended are aimed at technical and computer professionals, others medical professionals, etc. This allows schools to keep costs down by focusing on certain areas. Since the state now has the challenge of revamping the method of funding education I think they should be proactive and go one step further.

Look into how schools are run in this state. Let’s get the government out of trying to run the one size fits all schools and open the door to competition. Let’s allow schools to offer courses they think are best without having to be everything for everyone and allow parents to pick the school they feel is the best fit for their children. If parents can choose their children's schools they will dictate the quality through competition. Currently that’s one benefit we do not enjoy. Parents of gifted and handicapped children alike are currently left with no choice.

Let’s cast aside the one size fits all and look at options that are truly best for our kids.