AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin (2023-03)

Voucher Expansion Heard at the State House This Week 

This week the House Education Committee heard two bills that would dramatically increase the amount of money spent on school vouchers in New Hampshire. Though the claim has always been that the purpose of this program is to help low-income families both of these bills would allow middle to high income families use of the voucher program. The voucher program, originally slated to cost just a few hundred thousand dollars has already ballooned to $30 million dollars and these bills would rise that cost even more and drain more money from our local public schools. We will have more actions for HB 464 and HB 367 as these bills continues to work their way through the legislature.  Thank you to all of you who took time to let the House Education Committee know that New Hampshire does not want to see this program expanded. You read the written testimony from AFT-NH President Deb Howes at the following link: Testimony Opposing HB 464 and HB 367.

AFT-NH testimony on HB 464 and HB 367 from Debrah Howes, AFT-NH President

 AFT-NH testimony on HB 464 and HB 367 from Debrah Howes, AFT-NH President

Thank you, Chairman 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. I would ordinarily present testimony on these bills in person, but due to a prior work travel commitment, I cannot.

Michael O’Brien of Preti Strategies who works on behalf of AFT-NH at the State House will present for me.  

I am writing in opposition to HB 464 and HB 367, both of which would make more students eligible for the state of New Hampshire’s school voucher program.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2023-02

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin

2023-02

Granite Staters Push for Repeal of Divisive Concepts Law   It was a good week for advocates of public education this week. We had our first big hearing of the year with the repeal of divisive concepts being heard. The proponents of repealing this ridiculous and punitive law showed up with enormous strength and told compelling and personal stories of why we should get rid of the law. Of the people who gave testimony over 95% of them were in favor of repealing this terrible law. We thank you all for reaching out, emailing, and sharing your story and support of repeal with the committee.

Ruling from U.S. District Court on Divisive Concepts Lawsuit    Shortly after the public hearing the District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro struck down the state’s attempt to throw out the divisive concept’s lawsuit brought by AFT, AFT-NH, NEA-NH and ACLU of New Hampshire. Not only did the judge allow the lawsuit to continue, but the language in his order was also strong and seemed to be persuaded by our arguments.  

New Hampshire Educators Pleased Federal Court Rules to Allow Lawsuit Against State’s ‘Divisive Concepts’ Law to Proceed

New Hampshire Educators Pleased Federal Court Rules to Allow Lawsuit

Against State’s ‘Divisive Concepts’ Law to Proceed

AFT-NH: A Victory for New Hampshire’s Teachers and Students

CONCORD, N.H.—The American Federation of Teachers and AFT-New Hampshire reacted to news today that a federal court will allow AFT-New Hampshire’s lawsuit against the state’s so-called divisive concepts law to proceed, with the judge writing that teachers should not be in a position where they must instruct students on certain concepts but face losing their jobs.

The controversial law, passed in 2021, is called the “Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education.” AFT-NH contends it violates teachers’ free speech rights when teaching as well as students’ First Amendment rights not to have censored instruction block their right to learn.

The lawsuit went on to argue that the divisive concepts statute is unconstitutionally vague and contradicts the U.S. Constitution as well as a state law mandating that public school curriculum include the teaching of accurate, honest history and social studies.

AFT-NH’s case against the law has been consolidated with a similar one brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. It was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro used AFT-NH’s actual wording in its suit to agree that the law is flawed and the lawsuit should proceed.

AFT-NH Testimony on Repeal of the Divisive Concepts Law

AFT-NH Testimony on HB 61

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

Thank you, Chairperson Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee, for listening to my testimony today,

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.

I am here today to speak wholeheartedly in favor of HB61 – Relative to Teaching on Discrimination in the Public Schools and in Public Workplaces. Make no mistake. My members enthusiastically support this legislation to repeal the so-called “Divisive Concepts” law passed in 2021.

This so-called “Divisive Concepts” law is unconstitutional; politically motivated and unfair to students who should be learning historical facts, not censored or sugar-coated history. It is intimidating and punitive to teachers who have an obligation to teach honest history. It should never have been, nor should ever be, a law in New Hampshire.

Timberlane Teachers Achieve Last Minute Deal, School Board Continues to Engage in Union Busting

Timberlane Teachers Achieve Last Minute Deal, School Board Continues to Engage in Union Busting

 Timberlane temporarily avoids catastrophe

PLAISTOW, NH— January 9, 2023 —The leadership of the Timberlane Teachers’ Association released the following statement:

 In a final effort, the Timberlane Teachers’ Association has achieved a last minute deal for a one-year agreement with the Timberlane Regional School Board that avoids what would certainly have been a critically disastrous situation for the District. Timberlane educators are already working without a contract for this school year and have not seen any step movement or cost of living adjustments. This deal makes little headway in resolving the many issues facing Timberlane including under-valued wages, working conditions, and earned benefits.  This agreement is only a one year deal, which stabilizes the situation and brings the parties back to the bargaining table in the Spring.