A constituent asked me a question in an email: “Why did the House Education Committee vote to retain SB135? By retaining it, property taxes are sure to rise, not only in Merrimack #1 but across the state. How do you justify raising taxes? Will you explain your vote in your report in The Andover Beacon?”
There is money in the new budget for education across the State. I voted to retain SB 135 as the schools in New Hampshire have received ESSER I Allocations of $33,877,235; SPSRF Allocation of $44,528,979, and have received or will receive $350,501,633 in ARP ESSER through the American Rescue Plan. This is on top of the monies appropriated in each school district of the State.
We need to ascertain what our real school population is now with so many parents pulling their children from public schools during COVID-19, and which schools really need help. I also believe that funds to schools should be tied to education performance.
I attended the Merrimack Valley School District school board meeting on June 14. In the comment section of the meeting I stated the following:
“For those that do not know me my name is Louise Andrus. I am a citizen of Salisbury and a State Rep on the Education Committee in the Legislature. Have always been and continue to have a passion for encouraging the education of children and that they can do and become anything they want to in life. One of my interests is namely what the children are and are not being taught in our public schools.
“At the May 10 school board meeting the subject of HB2 and Divisive Concepts Language was brought up. To quote from the minutes, ‘Chairperson Seelye Longnecker discussed that the State budget bill (HB 2) includes language that prohibits discussion of divisive concepts in schools. While the Board normally does not take public stands, this directly impacts our schools. Seelye offered the following proposed statement from the Board. The statement reads: “The Merrimack Valley School Board strongly opposes the language in HB 2 which restricts open and honest discussion of topics that might be considered divisive. We are committed to offering our students an ‘apolitical’ curriculum that fosters safe and respectful conversations from diverse perspectives and encourages them to critically analyze issues that impact equity and inclusion in our schools and our community.”’
“I believe silence implies consent, therefore I dispute this statement. If you have read HB 2 it states, ‘II. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit discussing, as part of a larger course of academic instruction, the divisive concepts listed in RSA 10-C:1, II in an objective manner and without endorsement.’
“One of the real issues is teaching divisive concepts and indoctrinating the students of our school district. Please let me explain. The information in the February 8, 2021 school board meeting packet pages 93 through 96 related to curriculum revisions. I have done some research on Critical Race Theory. I picked out one of the subject matters listed at the Middle School level: ‘Dismantling White Supremacy Culture.’ I Googled it, and at the end of the article was listed dRworks and a website DismantlingRacism.org. I went to the website and among the listed headings was ‘Racism Defined.’ Under that I heading found the following:
“‘WHITE SUPREMACY. The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to BIPOC communities and people and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level. For more, go to the white supremacy culture page.’
“Why did the MVSD taxpayers have to pay for conferences on ‘Dismantling White Supremacy Culture’? This told me that we, the taxpayers, are paying for teachers to attend conferences and workshops, and in turn to teach about white privilege, white supremacy, etc. to the children of the MVSD.
“My question is, how does the school board and school justify, condone, and uphold what I feel is racist indoctrination, propaganda, and trash to our students in the MVSD? In my opinion, this whole Critical Race Theory is racist and full of despicable hate for one another.
“No wonder the test scores of students in reading, math, and science are low, if the school district spends more time on SEL and on teaching of divisive concepts. There are many parents pulling their children from public schools. When are we going to sit down and have a real conversation and ascertain what the real problems are, and fix those problems rather than just turning our heads the other way and ignoring the subject?
“At this time I am submitting a Right to Know request under RSA 91-A asking for information regarding the revision curriculum conferences and workshops, books purchased by the school district, and classes taught.
“I am requesting that my comment tonight and Right to Know request all be added as a matter of record.”
In this statement I said, “There are many parents pulling their children from public schools.” Please let me add that many parents are finding alternatives to public schools, for example home schooling, charter, or private schools. I personally know some of these parents.
According to the Department of Education data, total school enrollment preschool through 12th grade was 181,339 and in 2019 enrollment had fallen to 176,170. This is 15,169 fewer students in our public schools, which makes me question what is happening in our public schools?