Candidate Calls for More Support for Public Schools

By Faith Minton

As a candidate for New Hampshire House District 25, I am aware that some people in our state have been advocating for more resources for school choice. While school choice is an option for New Hampshire families already, I do not support giving public money to private or religious schools. I support our public school system, which by federal law must provide an education for all students. I believe our students would be better served by more support of public schools, not by defunding or diluting the support as some people propose.

I have had children attend public school and have been a supporter as a taxpayer and recently as a School Board member. I would also like to share my experience mentoring a learning-disabled young person from my town, who is moving towards independence, not following a typical high school graduation path. Our local public school system has been working to support her as she navigates different learning opportunities and enters adulthood.

I have been a volunteer mentor to this public school student for the past seven years. She is learning disabled with an IEP (individualized educational plan). I have participated in many meetings with the family and her team over these years. I help her mother review her daughter’s public school evaluations and yearly plans which are created with her daughter’s IEP team.

This student’s Transition plan, initiated when she was fourteen years old, is developed to support her with the skills she needs to enter adulthood, reach her goals, and get employment. As part of her plan she was able to participate in internships in the community, coordinated by her high school transition coordinator.  This year she applied for and was accepted into a program at Concord Hospital run in collaboration with Concord High School for disabled young people called Project Search. This kind of training will prepare her as she seeks future employment to reach her goals.

Project Search is a national program developed in 1996 in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a local disability board. The program has grown to over 500 sites in the United States and 10 countries. Concord Hospital, the program site, partners with Community Bridges, a mental health support program, Concord School District, and New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation. Area school districts apply to Concord School District on behalf of special students for admittance to the program.

Project Search is funded through local, state, and federal tax revenue. Dependent on each school district’s resources and program openings, this program is only available to perhaps a few dozen students throughout New Hampshire. If the student I have been helping lived in another town in New Hampshire, she might not have been able to participate in this program. This is an example of how our public schools serve students with learning differences who are not on a typical high school graduation path. I would like to see more opportunities such as this for our students throughout the state.

I understand there is a proposal in the early stages to design a new apprenticeship program, pairing New Hampshire public high school students with businesses (funded by the business) based on the German system of apprenticeship. I hope to learn more about this and will support such innovative initiatives which help our young people enter the workforce prepared for careers in a variety of fields. I am sure this type of apprenticeship program would have bipartisan support in the New Hampshire State Legislature.