AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-02

January 10, 2021

Bow, NH

To say the first full week of 2021 was eventful is a gross understatement. The shocking attempt at a coup in Washington DC will be memorialized by historians but should not surprise anyone following politics the past twenty years.  Commentary is already flowing fast and furious, and there is little need to add to it.  Suffice to say, the attempted coup bears witness to the continued power and stridency of white supremacist thinking and rhetoric and its deep roots in American history and culture.  Sadly, lives were lost, including police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries incurred in the line of duty.  Unsurprisingly, Governor Sununu has not ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of Officer Sicknick. One can only suspect our dear governor is still holding his finger in the air, trying to determine the direction of the political winds before he considers acting or taking a stand in regards to the coup and his party leader, President Trump.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin (2021-01)

January 1, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

Happy New Year!  It is time to wave a not-so-fond farewell to 2020!  One can only hope that 2021 is an improvement upon the year we all just endured.  Educators are exhausted, students are tired, health care workers are burning out, and NH’s COVID infection rates and the number of deaths continues to rise with unprecedented rapidity.  Meanwhile, as the NH Legislature prepares to resume its work in some sort of fashion, the Republican majority and the governor are preparing an unprecedented assault upon public education and upon labor unions.  So gird up, the next few months are going to be busy.  We will try to keep you informed as things develop and we will be asking for your aid and involvement as we work to prevent the gutting of public education and its privatization.  But first, let’s take a look at the context and setting, as the political circus prepares to open for the 2021 session.

Finally—it’s President-elect Biden

Patience—counseled by former Vice President Joe Biden all election week as Americans waited for votes to be counted—finally paid off Nov. 7, four days after Election Day, when Biden won in Pennsylvania and gained enough Electoral College votes to acquire a new title: president-elect. AFT President Randi Weingarten says the union’s leaders and members “can’t wait to get started” on the work ahead “with an administration that will embrace and fight for the values we hold dear.”

Your vote is your voice

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column outlines the urgency of using our voices—our votes—in this life-changing election, when we will make a choice “between President Donald Trump, who has trafficked in chaos, fear, lies and division, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who seeks to reverse Trump’s failures on COVID-19 and the economy, and to unite and uplift the American people.” Besides the four crises we face—a pandemic, an economic crisis, racism and a climate emergency—democracy itself is on the ballot, as Trump continues to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

‘Back to school’ like never before

In her September New York Times column, AFT President Randi Weingarten says that going back to school has never looked like it does now. Weingarten explains that because of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which has been chaotic, contradictory and inept, and the lack of federal guidance and funding, we’re seeing a patchwork of school reopening plans across the country.

AFT-NH President Douglas Ley on Gov. Sununu’s Re-opening School Guidelines

Contact: Douglas Ley, AFT NH  President

Phone: (603) 831-3661

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9:00 A.M EDT, July 15, 2020

 

AFT-NH President Doug Ley issued the following statement in reaction to the guidelines issued by Governor Sununu.

“Once again, Gov. Chris Sununu fails the test of leadership.  With COVID infections spiking rapidly across the nation and with public health officials repeatedly stating that wearing masks is one of the easiest and most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus, the Governor refuses to mandate wearing of masks in schools.  In fact, the entire set of guidelines released today amount to a pile of nothing—little guidance, vague suggestions, and most important, no support provided by the State to local school districts facing huge costs as the school year approaches.  The Governor likes to act like a king doling out Federal CARES funds, but when it comes to actual leadership, the king abdicates.

From the start, the process of crafting guidelines for school reopening in Fall 2020 was fraught with difficulties, mostly self-inflicted.  The task force and supportive working groups appointed by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut contained virtually no public school teachers while sidelining leaders of statewide education organizations to a working group with no clear assignment or duties.  The initial materials sent out by the Commissioner featured numerous press articles touting individual stories of students thriving in online education but nothing on the work of educators and the looming challenges.  Even the survey touted today was tilted towards online education, and while the Governor cited the survey to justify his vague recommendations, the actual results have yet to be released, despite requests from myself and other working group members.

No required use of masks.  No State support to aid districts facing huge costs for heightened sanitizing and cleaning regimens.  No aid for districts when it comes to transportation (how many kids can you fit safely on a school bus?)  No help in obtaining PPE for schools.  No help in ensuring all students have equal access to remote learning when it becomes necessary (as it surely will).  And what about the teachers, para-educators, food service workers and administrative support staff?  What if their health is already compromised or if a loved one at home is vulnerable?  What provisions are to be made for them? 

Local control is part of the very foundation of public education in New Hampshire, but stronger State guidance and support can mesh with local control.  Local variations are real, but broad public health concerns crossing local district lines are also real, along with the scientific guidance that can help us in forming sensible policies.  Sadly, Governor Sununu has abdicated his leadership responsibilities when it comes to our students, teachers, and schools in New Hampshire.  We can only hope and pray that the patchwork approach adopted in New Hampshire does not lead to the same tragic results that we are now witnessing across the United States.”  

AFT-NH is a federation of 28 locals, and is the largest affiliate of the NH AFL-CIO.  Our 4000 members range from teachers to para-educators, school support staff, municipal employees, law-enforcement officers and higher education faculty, and we stand for equal access to quality public education, affordable health care, and maintaining the rights of working people to have protections and a voice in the workplace.   

 

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