Jan. 16 — To the Editor:
Be careful what you wish for; it might come back to bite you! The tea party and Free-Staters in the New Hampshire Legislature were so intent on destroying public education in the state in order to replace it with private schools and home schooling, that they pushed through a poorly thought-out bill (HB 542) that gave parents the right to force schools to change any lesson for any student within a class if the parent found it objectionable. As stated by Bill Duncan in the Portsmouth Herald, a teacher at a committee meeting on the bill said members "specifically mentioned Everyday Math. They did not like Everyday Math, because parents didn't understand it."
In an editorial, the Herald points out that "the law doesn't define what 'objectionable' means, so now any parent could stop any teacher from teaching any lesson without any reason." For example, a father could object to the social studies curriculum because he wants his child to learn about his home state of North Dakota instead of New Hampshire history. A mother could object to the foreign language requirement at her child's high school because she wants her daughter to study ancient Greek instead. Under HB 542, the school would be obligated to provide all of these lessons to the students whose parents objected.
How did Seacoast legislators vote on this bill? Hampton's five Republican legislators (Chris Nevins, Fred Rice, Ken Sheffert, Kevin Sullivan and James Waddell), Republican state Sen. Nancy Stiles, and New Castle/Rye Republicans Will Smith and Brian Murphy all voted for the bill that the New Hampshire Union Leader called "a simply awful bill that is neither workable nor sensible." All Portsmouth Democratic representatives present (Jackie Cali-Pitts, Rich DiPentima, Terie Norelli, Laura Pantelakos, Robin Read and Chris Serlin) voted no.
While Republicans in the Statehouse search for new and more devious ways to destroy public education in New Hampshire, important issues like our crumbling infrastructure and the need for affordable housing continue to be ignored. New Hampshire citizens deserve better representation than this.