Public Education Advocates Request the Department of Education to Halt 306 Rules Revision Until Clear Public Process and Timeline Established

Public Education Advocates Request the Department of Education to Halt 306 Rules Revision Until Clear Public Process and Timeline Established

The minimum standards for public education are being redrafted with little transparency or public input

CONCORD, NH –  Professional educators, parents, and community leaders from some of the state’s leading public education organizations have signed a joint letter requesting the New Hampshire Department of Education and the NH State Board of Education to halt the current 306 Rules revision process until a more transparent and inclusive public process and timeline is established for the consequential rules. 

The 306 Rules, also known as the Minimum Standards for Public Education, address every aspect of public education in New Hampshire. From professional development for teachers to classroom curriculum to what is served in the cafeteria, the 306’s have a significant impact on the way New Hampshire public education students experience schooling. Yet the process for drafting the new rules has left many concerned. The letter addresses several aspects of the current process that the state’s top public education advocates want addressed, such as a lack of diverse and critical input from key education partners and stakeholders, the current drafted version’s attempts to gut core content areas, and a lack of public transparency and accountability and a clear timeline on behalf of both the NH Department of Education and the National Center for Competency Based Learning (NCCBL), the firm hired through a sole-source contract to conduct the revision process.

“The NH Department of Education’s current 306 Rules drafting process is being conducted by an outside firm with little public oversight for how stakeholders are selected, the content they discuss, the input they provide, or the timeline they are operating on,” said Sarah Robinson, the Education Justice Campaign Director for Granite State Progress. “These rules are crucial to maintaining a strong and inclusive public education in our state. Without broad public input and scrutiny from all stakeholders, how can the DOE expect to offer a draft that meets the needs of our students? We should all be concerned about attempts to rewrite our public education standards without a strong and transparent public process.”

The joint letter, found below, calls to restart the process in a more open and transparent manner and to include a broad and diverse range of stakeholders to ensure the best outcomes for our students, and our state. Signing organizations offer the additional statements:

Megan Tuttle, President, NEA-NH: “The behind-closed-doors process being used by the New Hampshire Department of Education and their selected contractor is very concerning and runs counter to how we do things in New Hampshire. With something as important as rewriting the minimum standards for our public schools, input from a broad variety of stakeholders and the public should have been included from the start. Every New Hampshire student deserves a school with the resources, programs, and curriculum to nurture their curiosity and desire to learn. The 306 Rules are a critical part of ensuring high expectations and standards across our schools that foster strong, inclusive learning environments for our students and facilitate parental, family, and community involvement and engagement. We urge the Commissioner to restart these efforts with a more representative process, operating in a transparent environment.”

Deb Howes, President, AFT-NH: “The 306 Rules serve as the foundation for learning in our public schools, and education stakeholders know how critical it is that the rules are established in the best interest of our students. Without a clear process and timeline, involving a broad and diverse range of stakeholders, the NH Department of Education is harming public confidence in how the rules are being formed and implemented. There is reasonable concern over whether the process is being intentionally conducted outside of established timelines and public oversight, and what that might mean for public schools and our students. Moving quickly to establish a clear and public process allows everyone to move forward together.” 

Zack Sheehan, Project Director, NH School Funding Fairness Project: “Changes to these standards impact almost every aspect of our public schools, including conversations and decisions related to funding. These standards must strive to support well-resourced public schools that can provide a great education to every student who walks through their doors. That’s why it is critical that there be a process that incorporates and values opportunities for public input. I understand that actively seeking out input from a diverse set of stakeholders is challenging, time consuming work, but our students, parents, school districts, and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

Jen Bisson, Board Chair, Support Our Schools New Hampshire: “As a parent of two young daughters, I am disheartened by the way in which the state has handled revising the 306 Administrative rules. I am very concerned that these rules are going to hurt the public schools that my children attend. There has been almost no transparency in the process, and what little we have been able to learn about the process is troubling to say the least. It is time to start this process over and do it right. Our childrens’ education is too important.”

Carisa Corrow, Founder, Educating for Good: “As times change and priorities shift, New Hampshire’s rules for public schools should be updated regularly in a transparent process that includes students, parents, educators as well as the community at large. The current attempt at updating NH’s education rules has neither been transparent nor inclusive of the communities these rules will serve. While recent attempts to engage educators is encouraging, the Department of Education needs to ensure more voices are heard.”

Janet Ward, Vice President, League of Women Voters NH: “The League of Women Voters of NH supports public schools as a foundation of our democracy. The League believes in transparency in all state departments.  Revision of the rules which govern New Hampshire’s schools should be done in an open and public manner. The most recent review of the 306 rules has been done privately, without public participation or oversight.  These are the reasons the League signed the letter sent to NH’s Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education asking for the establishment of an open and transparent 306 revisioning process.”