May 8 2014
Live Free or Die Ideal Seems Dead in One New Hampshire High School
Vicki E. Alger
What a way to end the school year.
This week New Hampshire Dad William Baer was handcuffed and arrested during a Gilford High School board meeting for protesting a sexually explicit novel assigned to his 14 year-old daughter’s class (See the Fox News interview here).
School officials insisted that they had sent notifications to parents, but were later forced to admit they didn’t after Baer, who happens to be an attorney, demanded to see copies, and officials came up empty-handed. OOPS!
The novel was written by a New Hampshire native, and I’m not citing it here because I don’t want to give it any publicity, contains a graphic sex scene between two teenagers that, according to Baer, “reads like a transcript for a triple-X porno movie.”
Defenders say the novel raises important themes related to bullying and violence, which is all well and good. But what does a teenage sex scene have to do with those themes? Officials at any school can think and do what they like when it comes to their own teenagers—but not when it comes to other people’s children.
Baer is currently facing disorderly conduct charges, but what consequences will Gilford High officials have to face? Other than some unwelcome publicity, probably nothing.
But parents do have options.
Just this year New Hampshire enacted a tax-credit scholarship program that allows businesses to make tax-deductible donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations. Through this program public school students from low- and middle-income families (with incomes of no more than $70, 650) can apply for scholarships to attend the private or home-schools of their parents choice.
Research proves that students with involved parents perform better in school, and parental involvement begins with choosing children’s schools. Parental choice raises academic achievement among participating and non-participating students.
When schools have to compete for students and their associated funding, they become more responsive to parents’ wishes and students’ needs. Thus competition introduces rewards for success (because parents continue to enroll their children) and immediate consequences for failure (because parents can transfer their children elsewhere).
Until all schools face real competition, don’t expect them or their officials to be truly accountable to parents. As Mr. Baer’s plight shows absent options, dissatisfied parents are stuck.
Thanks to the Granite State’s new parental choice program, those parents and their children won’t be stuck much longer.