Gatsas unveils education plan in advance of GOP candidate forums

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Mayor Ted Gatsas speaks during a presentation of his education plan at the SEE Science Center on July 11.
Mayor Ted Gatsas speaks during a presentation of his education plan at the SEE Science Center on July 11.

MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, on Monday announced his comprehensive plan for education in New Hampshire, A Foundation for Education, during a presentation at SEE Science Center.

“As Governor, I commit to the families and children throughout New Hampshire that I will always put their needs ahead of Washington’s mandates.  Its time that choice and control be returned to the conversation when it comes to education.  The plan before you does just that.  This is a Foundation for Education in New Hampshire.  It begins with the cornerstones are parental choice and local control and adds the building blocks for stability,” Gatsas said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern was quick to respond to Gatsas’ education proposal with the following statement:

“Ted Gatsas’ education proposals threaten to cut funds for our public schools, stifle innovation and invite dysfunction and controversy — just like his failed record as Mayor has resulted in deep budget cuts to Manchester schools, increased class sizes, and prompted surrounding communities to withdraw from the School District. I will work to keep New Hampshire moving forward by strengthening our schools, our workforce and our economy.”

Van Ostern is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. His opponents are Mark Connolly and Steve Marchand.

The release of Gatsas’ education plan comes in time to bolster his momentum going into three scheduled GOP gubernatorial events this week – two forums and a debate –  with opponents Frank Edleblut, Jeanie Forrester and Chris Sununu:

Monday, July 11:
Derry Republican Committee Gubernatorial Forum
The Halligan Tavern, 32 West Broadway, Derry, NH
6 p.m.

Tuesday, July 12:
Bedford Republican Committee Gubernatorial Forum
Bedford Library, 3 Meetinghouse Road, Bedford, NH
7 p.m.

Thursday, July 14:
Windham GOP Republican Committee Gubernatorial Debate (Windham GOP Ticketing RSVP)
Windham High School Auditorium, 64 London Bridge Road, Windham, NH
7 p.m.

A copy of the full 10-page plan is below. Highlights from a news release sent out by Gatsas follow:

The Cornerstones: Parental Choice & Local Control: “Little by little parental choice and local control are being stripped from education in exchange for Washington’s mandates.  This is unacceptable.  Parental choice and local control must be returned to education in New Hampshire,” Gatsas said.

Building Block #1: Leadership:  “Leadership on education begins in the Governor’s Office and extends to the Commissioner of Education and the state Board of Education.  As Governor I will only nominate individuals that put New Hampshire ahead of Washington and have a demonstrated commitment to parental choice and local control,” Gatsas said.

Building Block #2: Reject Federal Common Core Standards and Reevaluate Standardized Testing: “It’s time that New Hampshire regain control of our classrooms by eliminating Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Washington’s one-size fits all approach is wrong.  As Mayor I stood up to Washington to reject Common Core.  Unfortunately the threat of loss of funding won out, but my opposition remained steadfast.

“It is also unfortunate that the Governor and the majority of the Executive Council in New Hampshire continued to support Common Core and voted for contracts citing the loss of funding as their reasoning.  This argument is tired.  As Governor, I will stand up to Washington and say no to Common Core,” Gatsas said.

Building Block #3: Expand Choice, Competition and Programming: “As a self-made businessman, I recognize that there are two very basic concepts used in the free market: choice and competition.  This should also be our launching point to improve and expand educational opportunity in education,” Gatsas said.

Gatsas’ initiatives include:

  1. Encourage School Choice & Competition;
  2. Changing S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M. and expanding programming;
  3. Expanding the FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead program;
  4. Expansion of Trade & Technical Education.

Building Block #4: Closing the Achievement Gap: “As Governor, my focus to close the achievement gap will be on early childhood education.  I will encourage all communities to move towards full-day Kindergarten programs.  This will not come in the form of a mandate handed down to local communities by Concord, but rather by illustrating the benefits of full-day programming and making it a choice for local communities.

“As Governor I also will make third-grade reading proficiency a top educational priority.  Similar to a partnership that was brought forward by the Granite United Way and the Manchester School District, we will make the Reading Plus program, a technology-based reading program, available to every school district in New Hampshire.” Gatsas said.

Building Block #5: Education Funding Stability: “It has been nearly 20 years since the Claremont ruling and we continue to struggle with stability in education funding.  As Governor, I will work with the legislature to put forward a Constitutional Amendment for education funding that will bring funding certainty to local officials so they can plan for their near and long-term needs,” Gatsas said.

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