Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Editorial: Public education is for everyone
Ideally, public education would be one of life’s great levelers.
Regardless of family background, wealth, ethnicity or financial status, all children can attend school for free to learn reading, math, science, history, art, writing and the music. They can exercise and play games in physical education class. If they wish, they can participate in extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs and school productions.
They can make friends for life, and in the end, they can put on caps and robes and walk across a stage to receive a diploma with jubilant friends and family – no matter where they’re from and no matter where they go next.
Of course, the reality rarely matches the ideal. With funding in New Hampshire determined largely by property taxes, some districts have greater capacity to provide services to help children learn and activities that enhance the educational experience. Every year, school districts develop budgets that ask people to support them with their taxes, and local councils and residents question, modify and sometimes reject these requests. Since funds are not unlimited — and unfortunately, less well-off districts have larger limits — it’s important that school districts justify the money they’re asking residents to pay.
Moreover, public school teachers, school staff, and administrators do their best to achieve the ideal every day, but the work they do is unwittingly part of our culture wars. These include debates over “dividing concepts”, “teacher loyalty”, whether critical race theory is taught in public schools (it is not), efforts to require school districts to make all educational materials available in libraries and even COVID mitigation like mask requirements.
When schools are part of the culture wars, it robs them of what they should be – places where all children, regardless of background, can receive an education.
We encourage everyone to vote in elections and town halls this week, including in Peterborough, where municipal elections won’t take place until May, but residents are voting for ConVal School District budget items and school board members Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Peterborough Community Center on Elm Street.