Sununu Wants to Privatize Education

Rep. Joyce Weston

Most people who have grown up in New Hampshire have fond memories of going to school with the other kids in their town — the school bus rides, playground games, school lunch (yuck), team sports, and lifelong friendships.

On August 16, Chris Sununu diverted our taxpayer dollars — the money should be going to help our underfunded public schools reopen — to an unqualified, Koch-funded, for-profit company that is under investigation in Arizona. Under Sununu’s direction, the Department of Education will issue a no-bid contract from the pandemic relief bill portion for schools to this shady company, Prenda. The Governor is giving Prenda $6 million for its “learning pods”.

This money is from the bipartisan Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which contained $13.5 billion in “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” funds.

New Hampshire is now giving Prenda’s “micro-schools” more money per pupil than the state gives our local public schools. Its curriculum is taught by “guides” — not certified teachers, and there is little accountability.

These pods will be five to ten elementary or middle-school-aged students, taught by Prenda’s employees in school buildings or other public locations — Churches, perhaps? According to Prenda’s site, to become a “guide”, you must be at least 18 years old, pass a criminal check, be certified in CPR and first aid, have some facility with technology, and have six months of experience (paid or unpaid) working with children in the last five years.

Do you hear anything about academics? Learning styles? Classroom strategies? Lesson plans? Do the guides need to be educated beyond the eighth grade to teach? How will the students be evaluated for work in the larger world? Will they be prepared to enter college?

The money Sununu is giving to Prenda will create an additional 27 charter schools to add to the state’s current 29. Last I heard, prior to COVID, the existing charter schools were having trouble filling their seats. Some were closing down for lack of business. Do we really need to more than double the number of these schools?

Perhaps our local population prefers an accredited, accountable public school with a curriculum that adequately prepares them for adult life. Sununu appears to be trying to destroy the public school system.

[Printed in the Record Enterprise (September 1, 201) and other NH papers]


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