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May 9, 2014

Education board confirmation draws criticism

Charter school advocates voice concerns


“I was quite surprised,” Leweck said of the nomination. “(Hassan) has always said she is an advocate of charter schools.”

Duncan said he supports charter schools as a complement to the traditional public school system and has been impressed with the ones he’s visited.

Thomas Frischknecht, co-founder of The Founders Academy and also the Academy for Science and Design in Nashua, said he was “disappointed” with the nomination.

But Frischknecht said he will reach out to Duncan.

“I think it brings an imbalance to a board already imbalanced,” he said. “I would have been more pleased if they chose someone with the needs of charter schools in mind.”

Christine Storniolo, board chairman for The Birches Academy of Academics & Art in Salem, said charter school officials need to move forward and work with Duncan.

“We welcome Mr. Duncan because we know he has a history of educational reform,” she said.

It’s Duncan’s outspoken views that have brought him many critics.

Duncan, the founder of Defending New Hampshire Public Education, is adamantly opposed to the education tax law and has challenged it in the state Supreme Court. That case is still pending.

The law offers credits to businesses and organizations that donate money for children to attend private schools. Duncan claims money collected from taxpayers should only be used to fund public education.

“I think that the law needs to be struck down,” he said. “We have no need for vouchers in New Hampshire.”

Duncan claims the tax credit program mostly benefits families who can already afford to send their children to private schools.

His confirmation yesterday drew harsh criticism from state Republican Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn, who issued a statement.

“Bill Duncan is the wrong person for this important position,” Horn said, “because he is a radical anti-school choice advocate who has fought tirelessly to limit education opportunities for the needy children.”

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