Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Speaking of Math and Science Academies...

New Hampshire is thinking of opening a charter school called the New Hampshire Academy for Science and Design at Daniel Webster College in Nashua next year. That's an amazingly ambitious timeline for opening a school, but you can read about it in the Boston Globe here.

The Academy would cover grades 7-12. The first half of the article is quite encouraging, talking about the rigorous science classes students could take in aeronautics and biochemistry.

The second half is less encouraging. Apparently, New Hampshire originally allowed charter schools only if local voters and local school boards near the site approved them. Not surprisingly, some small minded folks decided such schools would break their local monopolies and got every charter school proposal defeated until about two years ago.

Then the legislature started a pilot program allowing themselves to approve charter schools, and the first opened about a year and a half ago. That's a small step forward. But these new laws set charter school funding at $3500 a student. New Hampshire's regular public schools spend about $6,000-$10,000 a year educating each kid.

I'm all for saving taxpayer dollars, but I think making charter schools start out broke unless they can raise private funds is a mistake. Such a policy tempts school officials to seek out students whose families can contribute the rest, instead of throwing open their doors to whichever scientifically curious kids want to cross the New Hampshire Academy for Science and Design's doors.

No comments: