Edelblut looks at complaints from controversial books

CloseUp: Edelblut looks into complaints about controversial books



Adam: Welcome back to Close. Education continues to be a major issue, and there are many debates going on in Concord and cases in the courts to prove it. Here this morning to discuss as many issues as we can ask him about in 10 minutes, Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edeblot. Commissioner, thanks for joining us. Attention to note. If you were a student who was grad school at a new school when the pandemic hit, now you’re graduating with your eye in the spring. From your point of view, how much learning loss, how much impact did these students see in the high school experience? Frank: We know that learning loss has replaced it. Only the annoying effect of the virus. In New Hampshire, our schools weren’t closed so much but they were upset that students had to isolate them because they or their brothers were covered up, or something. Certainly, the learning was interrupted. The valuation tells us it’s broken because we saw a decline in 2019 to 2020 results. One of the encouraging things that you don’t hear about is when they look at the results that they’re looking at data points between 2019 and 2022 and they see a decline. We have a statewide assessment. We have 2019, 2021, 2022 and we’ve seen a recovery from the ’21 situation to 2022 — from 2021 to 2022. Which is encouraging. We will run the assessment in 2023 and see how the students fare and work to get them on the road to recovery. Part of doing this is providing tools for our teachers and school systems. Two of my favorites are the TUTOR.COM platform so every student in New Hampshire has access to 24/7 tutoring across any subject they may have. If they get home and get hung up on some things they don’t have to do. This is a tool for teachers in the classroom if they are working with students and a student is struggling they can say why you are not doing a tutoring session and get an update and then act on it. We’re doing things to move the system forward for kids. It’s hard if you’ve had a super title and missed those two years. AG: Another option is educational freedom accounts. Global update, what the numbers look like. Are we seeing any funding losses that critics said we would be on the domestic level? Frank: We have over 3,000 students involved in the program. As people know, education freedom accounts for families with opportunities. When you look at the landscape across the country, states across the country are embracing these educational freedom calculations because what you achieve, what we’ve known in education for decades, doesn’t fix this system. Different learners need different circumstances to succeed. This is basically what we want to see. The Education Freedom Calculator is a tool for countries and education leaders to be able to find a path to success. For funding, school districts receive a record amount of funding. Even with educational freedom accounts, schools have always received exactly the amount of funding they deserve. The idea that if you find one thing you don’t get another, it doesn’t mean anything. We seem to be filling pots, should he go to schools? Schools are funded on the basis of the formula that the legislation gave us and the freedom of education accounts that provide an opportunity for students to find success. Adam: The number of students that get to this, the discussion is always about which students want to move from public to private, but what about those who are already in private schools getting the funds available? Frank: We first adopted the program that had families that actually found a way to send their kids to a non-public school that benefited from that. These are families that are 300% or less of the federal poverty level. You can imagine the pressure on these families. They said it’s important that we want to make good choices for our children’s education. They were making sacrifices. However, they still pay taxes in the state. We provide an opportunity for these students to maintain those abilities to find an educational path that will be successful and lead them to a bright future. Adam: There is an incentive in the legislature for more oversight. do you agree? Frank: Quite a few sets eyes on this one. We have a legislative oversight committee. There are a lot of people watching what’s going on. I’ve been on the phone with calls this week going over the single line item expenses to make sure we’re monitoring the costs to make sure they qualify. We don’t see any of the problems that have happened before in another country. We have a nice and clean program. My basic knowledge is as an accountant to design internal control systems. We have good internal controls over the program to make sure that taxpayer money is attracted and that it is going towards what we want, supporting and educating the students. Adam: We are now more than a year into the system of state anti-discrimination law that was intended to protect against divisive notions. Why has nothing yet reached you to the point of moving forward with a trial? Frank: To be clear, nothing comes to the Education Department. If there is discrimination in our schools, and nobody wants discrimination in our school, our community, or our settings. If there is a complaint, and I am not aware of anything, they go to the Human Rights Commission and not to the Education Department. The fact that we – again, if you say – I don’t know the answer, if there are no cases means that our teachers are law-abiding. Teaching the content approved by the school boards in the state and focused on it and this is what we want. Quality education focuses on the curriculum and delivering that to the students. AG: Have you contacted any of the teachers who were investigated? Frank: Was it investigated? Adam: Sorry, I got a complaint. Frank: The complaints don’t come to the departments. I don’t know who directed a complaint so I won’t be able to contact her. But I have no knowledge – if there is a complaint, the complaint goes to the HRC. Adam: Don’t you want to know? Frank: That’s an irrelevant fact. I do not know and I am not committed to the information because that goes to the Commission on Human Rights. Adam: So you haven’t spoken to any teacher who received a complaint? Frank: Right, if there is a complaint. Adam: Any teacher feels that creates a climate of fear around what they’re doing. Are you trying to sprinkle it or stabilize the environment for them? Frank: It is important that we communicate with our supported teachers. Part of this is recognizing that they have a job to do, which is to deliver that curriculum in the classroom as best they can. We want to make sure that happens, but we have to realize that our teachers are employees of the government, the school district, and they are there to do the work that the school and state boards do and authorize them to do. Something behind it. This is what we want to encourage and give them the tools to do. In this process, we want to make sure that neither teachers nor students are discriminated against in any way. Adam: There’s been a discussion about the kinds of books that students can access in libraries or tablets, especially things that might be sexually explicit in nature or have a simple didactic clause. Have you found any material in the books that is used in any of the schools in particular at age appropriate levels? Frank: We’re focused on the last piece. We have received a variety of complaints regarding some of the content. In schools when this happens we work with school districts and families because every individual, teacher, family or parent, you want to make sure that the content of educational materials is developed. When students encounter developmentally inappropriate material, it causes harm. It causes stress. This causes concern. Eliminates the risk of causing trauma that will affect the student. No one wants to put developmentally inappropriate material into the hands of students. Adam: Are the complaints legitimate? Have you found these loopholes in New Hampshire Schools? Frank: We work to make sure that we don’t put developmentally inappropriate material in front of our children. I think teachers don’t want to put developmentally inappropriate material in front of children. They also want to protect children. AG: Something we might find is that the development of a misfit is typecast in a patterned way. Many want to bring this background and their powers. People think it’s old school but it might have benefits. Frank: It’s old school and it’s fun to watch the tension develop. We had a conversation at the agency. There are differing opinions in the agency as to whether this is a good or a bad thing to handle. I’m a fan. I know that research shows it provides benefits to students in the form of neural development and builds neural pathways. It is helpful for students with learning disabilities to help them condition their attention, concentration, and ability to make connections between words and letters. We’ll see how that plays out, but I’m a fan of the Plaid. Adam: We had to do it, maybe they should do it too, da gosh

CloseUp: Edelblut looks into complaints about controversial books

Education remains a hot issue and there are many ongoing debates in Concord and cases in the courts to prove it.

Education remains a hot issue and there are many ongoing debates in Concord and cases in the courts to prove it.

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