School vouchers back up for consideration School vouchers are a failed policy. These programs take tax money away from public schools and give it to families to spend as they choose on private schools that can reject students as well as on educational supplies, online classes, technology, enrichment programs, tutors or whatever. School vouchers have been shown in numerous studies in states across the country to be damaging to student achievement, increase school segregation and drain much needed resources away from neighborhood public schools. In fact, the overall negative impact on student achievement has been measured as equal to or greater than Hurricane Katrina or the disruptions of the COVID epidemic! So why would the notoriously frugal Granite State be pursuing expanding a policy that shows such poor return on the use of our valuable tax dollars?
The NH Senate will be considering expanding eligibility for NH’s existing school voucher system. Next week on Tuesday, April 25th at 9:00am and 9:30am respectively, HB 367 and HB 464 will be heard by the Senate Education Committee. It has been a while since we have talked about these bills, so let’s recap. HB 367 increases the eligibility of the voucher program to 350% of the federal poverty rate up from the current 300%. HB 464 increases the eligibility for certain subgroups, including whole geographic areas, some of which could potentially encompass most of the state, by totally removing the income cap from the voucher program.
AFT-NH Testimony on SB 272
From Debrah Howes, President of AFT-NH
Thank you, Chair Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee, for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.
AFT-NH represents 4,000 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. My members work with approximately 29,000 of the 165,000 public school students in New Hampshire in one way or another as well as working with thousands of university students. I am writing today in opposition to SB 272, establishing the parental bill of rights.
I urge you in no uncertain terms to vote “no” on SB 272 the so-called “Parental Bill of Rights.” This bill has very little to do with actually helping students or parents. Instead, it would force schools to divert their limited resources from teaching and supporting kids, into spying, reporting on and in some cases, actually endangering, children who are just trying to be themselves and live their lives in peace. It will hurt vulnerable students and drive good teachers and staff away from New Hampshire schools. It’s pure “performance politics.”
HONEY CASCIO SCHOLARSHIP
BILLY DONOVAN SCHOLARSHIP
AFT-NH, AFT, AFL-CIO
(Deadline: Postmarked by May 1, 2023)
AFT-NH is proud to award two $1,500 scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year. The Cascio scholarship will be offered to one graduating senior who has been accepted at an institution of higher learning, while the Donovan scholarship will go to one continuing student at an accredited institution of higher learning for the 2023-2024 academic year. Prior scholarship winners are ineligible.
Applicant’s parent or guardian must be a current member of AFT-NH. Winners will need to provide proof of enrollment (continuing or as a new student) for the 2023-2024 academic year in order to receive their scholarship check. All applications must be postmarked by May 1, 2023.
A budget is a statement of what a society values. We know the Granite State has a poor track record in how it supports its public school students, and with your help we have been working hard to change that. We want to make sure that every public school student in New Hampshire has small class sizes, expert teachers, learning support from dedicated paraeducators and all the school support staff that help our children learn and thrive.
We need a state budget that:
helps towns and school districts with lower property tax bases by increasing the state education aid they get.
Public School Proud This week showed what happens when you stand by your values, stand with your allies and call on lawmakers to stand up for the people in your communities. When you fight for what’s important you win, and this week, we did - for our, public schools, communities, and local property taxpayers.
All About the Budget At the beginning of the week, it looked like the NH House would take a vote on a state budget that was bad for public education. The budget that came out of House Finance this past week had a funding formula for public schools that hurt our communities that needed the most help, drastically expanded the over budget, unaccountable school voucher program and combined the Education Trust Fund – the dedicated piggy bank to pay for public education - with the General Fund. It also prevented new Community College System employees from joining the NH Retirement System.
Thankfully, yesterday public education champions in the legislature fought to improve the budget and bring much needed changes. The funding formula was changed in the budget so that it helps all of our communities—especially those communities that need it the most. The voucher program was removed completely from the budget. The Community College employees will continue to be able to join the NH Retirement System. Unfortunately, the amendment to separate the Education Trust Fund from the General Fund again and protect it failed BUT the budget process is not over. There will be time for the Senate to make that change and we will need your voices to make sure that happens.
AFT-NH: House Budget Deal Appreciated
CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on the New Hampshire House’s budget deal:
“Thank goodness the House approved a deal that rejected several proposals which would have endangered public education funding and raised local property taxes to fund what our public school students need to succeed and thrive. It’s become exhausting as extremist lawmakers try repeatedly to destroy public education with culture-war, pro-privatization education proposals and then, thankfully, the House throws most of them out in the end. Today’s successful House budget deal removes any expansion of school vouchers and changes the education funding formula to put more money in targeted education aid for towns with poor property-tax bases. This means 185 out of 245 districts get more funding to better support student learning. The deal also removed proposed language that would have cut off new employees in the community college system from joining the New Hampshire Retirement System pension plan.
“Not everything was a victory, however. The House also narrowly voted down the proposal to restore the Education Trust Fund as a lockbox for funding public education, as it was intended. That will be a fight with the next budget and the next Legislature.”