ICYMI: Senator David Watters Highlights Education Plan in Op-Ed
Dover, NH – In an Op-Ed published online Wednesday in Foster’s Daily Democrat, highlighting his plan for a 21st century education system, Senator Watters stressed the importance of finding innovative ways to build on New Hampshire’s commitment to educating young Granite Staters for a global economy while keeping taxpayer costs down.
“This plan builds on my record of delivering on education. It continues my work fighting for our fair share when it comes to funding for District 4 schools, successfully advocating for a new Career and Technical Education Center at Dover High and working with Governor Hassan to keep college costs down by freezing tuition at New Hampshire colleges.” said Senator David Watters.
A Plan for a 21st Century Education
Foster’s Daily Democrat
September 3, 2014
With the start of the school year, I am reminded of New Hampshire’s constitutional commitment to cherish public education. The founders knew education was both essential to freedom and the foundation of a prosperous democracy. But as a parent, I recall the joy of our son’s first day at kindergarten when our hopes and dreams were entrusted to teachers. I remember my own first day, sent at age 4 because my Mom was crippled with polio. There I was cherished by being taught to read. As an educator for 41 years, I have a passionate commitment to educational success so all our children can realize their dreams, but I know that there are great challenges facing our schools.
In releasing a comprehensive plan for pre-school to university education, “Innovation, Commitment, and Cost: A Plan for a 21st-Century Education,” I provide a roadmap for community conversation and legislative action (www.davidwattersforsenate.org/education). Innovation can positively transform educational practices, structures, and administration. A commitment to the core value of public schooling is forged in partnership by taxpayers, families with schoolchildren, and educators. With innovation and commitment, we can invest in our children while keeping costs down.
This plan builds on my record of improving education without increasing taxes. As your “education senator,” I fought to secure increased school funding for District 4 schools, secured $13.5 million for Dover’s Career and Technical Education Center, and established commissions to examine innovative private/public partnerships for CTE education and to explore best practices in child sexual abuse prevention education. I worked to save families thousands of dollars and reduce student debt by reversing the destructive cuts to higher education in return for a freeze in tuition. Bipartisan civility replaced partisan conflict and attacks on teachers, so we could agree on core educational values: shared knowledge, critical thinking, free inquiry, civility, and equal opportunity.
The debates over education are not new. In the 1830s, Horace Mann created the common school movement to ensure all children, especially immigrants, learned the core American values and the skills needed to succeed. The Morrill Act responded to the Civil War with the promise of educational opportunity for all at land grant colleges. Our schools now commit to kindergarten, students with diverse abilities, STEM fields, and Career and Technical Education. There is new debate over quality early childhood education.
Our commitment to public schools starts with a recognition of the professional quality of our teachers. We expect excellence, a challenging and innovative curriculum every day for every student, and demonstrable outcomes. This means local control to implement state standards on commonsense content, competency-based pedagogy and experiential education, online innovation, and appropriate testing, not teaching to a test. Innovation is a hallmark of creative classroom teachers, so I support enhanced technology, online education, and professional development. Let’s put politics aside to give flexibility to teachers, parents, and school boards to improve education and teaching quality.
The State must pay its legal share. Adequacy funds are capped, meaning Dover, Barrington and Rollinsford receive less than they should per student. I will again lead the fight to make sure our communities receive their fair share.
Innovation includes the District 4 Charter Schools, which provide choice for parents through specialization in arts, sciences, and other fields, without undermining funding for public schools. We can also bring Charter School strengths into “school within a school” proposals.
Through Career and Technical Education centers, District 4 can be a regional innovation center to ride the rising economic tide in IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, automotive work, and building trades. My SB 335 Commission will foster business partnerships with expanded and renovated CTEs in Dover and Somersworth.
In higher education, to control costs we must innovate. Freezing tuition is an important commitment, but we must also expand Running Start, STEAM Ahead, dual degrees programs, and online education to cut costs. In the capital budget, a new UNH science building is a priority. There are innovative ways to address student debt, through teacher contracts and employer incentives.
Meeting recently with Somersworth middle school students in a leadership program, I was struck by their desire to serve. This ethnically diverse group of students represents the families, languages, and cultures of District 4. Working with existing resources to keep taxes low, setting a priority on innovation to reduce costs, and envisioning education as a core community value, we can help their American dreams come true.
State Sen. David Watters