Op-ed: New Hampshire Students Deserve a Qualified Commissioner of Education

Photo Credit: Thomas Roche

By Loren Selig

March 22, 2024

Op-ed: New Hampshire Students Deserve a Qualified Commissioner of Education 

Would you get surgery from a doctor who had never been to medical school, or get your house rewired by an electrician without a license, or trust your mechanic to do your taxes? I wouldn’t. 

Like you, I understand that professional training and direct work experience are essential to do a job well. This is why as a former public school teacher, parent of public school students, and State Representative, I introduced legislation to implement minimum standards for serving as the NH Education Commissioner with House Bill 1084. 

Granite Staters rightfully expect our Education Commissioner to possess, at the very least, the same level of experience demanded of our teachers, principals, and other school administrators. A leader who has firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by public school students and teachers is better equipped to implement policies that truly benefit all our communities. 

HB 1084 proposes basic common-sense standards by requiring the Education Commissioner to have earned a degree from an accredited college or university, hold certification as an educator, and have a minimum of 5 years’ experience as either a teacher or administrator within a public school system.

While charter, private, and parochial schools are also wonderful sources of education, they do not have the same requirements to accept all students regardless of ability to succeed, nor do they need to provide any support for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). 

Knowledge and Empathy Matter. In my first year teaching high school English, I learned so much more than just how to plan and implement lessons, grade papers fairly, and convey information. I also learned what challenges my homeless students faced in getting to school, how my students with learning disabilities often viewed the world and learning process very differently than my other students, why my students from seemingly privileged homes still needed support to accomplish their dreams. Those lessons taught me to teach more effectively and to focus carefully on learning where students started so that I could help them see their own successes. It also showed me how to use all of the resources I had most effectively. 

Our children deserve the most qualified person for the job. Just as Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t hire me to run Meta, no matter how much I might surf Facebook and Instagram, New Hampshire shouldn’t be appointing someone with no experience working in public schools to oversee all programs and standards for our public schools. The Commissioner’s job includes establishing standards for all students at all grade levels, including post high school. Just as our community colleges require someone to have a Masters Degree in the specific subject area in which they are an instructor, our highest level administrator for all schools should have, at the absolute bare minimum, a certification as an educator as well as direct personal knowledge of public schools. Additionally, having experience would allow a Commissioner to know which schools are performing best and which ones need support to improve.

Together, we can give our children the advocates they deserve by passing HB 1084’s minimum standards for the NH Commissioner of Education, ensuring empathy and expertise in decision-making for our kids’ futures. Please call your State Representatives and ask them to vote YES for House Bill 1084.

Author

  • Loren Selig

    Representative Loren Selig lives in Durham, New Hampshire with her husband, high school junior, and dog. Her other daughter is a first year college student living away from home. Loren was certified in Elementary Education while at Clark University and holds a Masters in the Art of Teaching with a focus on Secondary English from The Johns Hopkins University. She taught in Howard County, Maryland, before moving to Durham where she worked at UNH supervising graduate students in education until the program lost more than half its budget and her position was cut.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION POLITICS

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