AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin (2023-01)

Happy New Year and welcome to 2023. We hope you had a relaxing and restorative holiday season with family and friends.

The first week of January means that the legislative session is officially back in the swing. After the November elections, Republicans controlled the Senate 14-10 and the House was as closely divided as it has ever been in history with 201 Republicans and 197 Democrats currently in the House. One tied race in Rochester Ward 4 will be decided in a special election in February. AFT-NH has endorsed Chuck Grassie for this seat. Another resignation by a newly reelected House member from Nashua will be filled by a special election on a date yet to be set.

Divisive Concepts Law   The House Education Committee once again has over 100 bills to be heard and will be especially busy in the upcoming session. They are starting out this session quickly by hearing  House Bill 61 which would repeal the divisive concepts law on Thursday, January 12th at 9:30 AM in Representatives Hall.  The divisive concepts law passed two years ago in the budget was designed to prevent the teaching of honest history and is negatively impacting our students’ ability to learn critical information. As we all know this bill has already had a chilling effect on teachers, staff, and students. AFT-NH is currently suing the state over this horrendous law, but we all agree it would be better for the legislature to just stop this policy and its harmful effects in its tracks.

Timberlane Regional School Board Walks Away from Contract Negotiations

 Timberlane Regional School Board Walks Away from Contract Negotiations

 Timberlane educators face a second year without a contract that respects their work

PLAISTOW, NH— January 5, 2023 —The leadership of the Timberlane Teachers’ Association released the following statement:

 The Timberlane Teachers’ Association, AFT #4796,  is gravely disappointed that for a second time in two years, the Timberlane Regional School Board has given up on trying to reach a tentative agreement with the Union that respects the work and dedication that Timberlane Educators have given to the children and families of the District.  The two parties have been meeting since June 2021 to try to reach an agreement that recognizes the contributions and sacrifices that the educators of Timberlane have made for the District while also respecting the needs of the taxpayers.  Timberlane educators have been working without a contract since July 2022 with no pay increases or cost of living adjustments while facing rising inflation and rising cost of living, and will continue to face shrinking paychecks for another year.  The Union has presented more than a dozen substantial proposals and counter proposals, endured two mediation sessions, and made significant concessions and compromises over the last two years. The last proposal offered by the Union constituted an increase in cost over the previously agreed upon first year in the prior tentative agreement of less than one-half percent of the proposed District’s annual budget. Sadly, the School Board has made little compromise and refused to meet the Union on common ground.  Even as of the date of this press release, the School Board continues to push forward proposals that were rejected by the Union membership for being insultingly inadequate to what Timberlane is worth instead of negotiating with the Union.

State Education Commissioner Sued Over Funding of Voucher Program

State Education Commissioner Sued Over Funding of Voucher Program

CONCORD, N.H.—New Hampshire is violating the N.H. Constitution and state law by using state lottery dollars and money from the Education Trust Fund to fund the state’s private school voucher program called the Education Freedom Account program, according to a complaint filed today in state court against state Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

The complaint (https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/2022/Howes-v-Ede...) is asking the Merrimack County Superior Court for an injunction against use of these funds intended for New Hampshire public schools for the voucher program.

It says: “If the state desires to operate an Education Freedom Account or similar program, whereby it grants public money for parents to utilize for private use, it must separately fund it through additional taxation or another source of funds,” noting there currently is no mechanism for doing so.

Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

AFT-NH Endorsement List for Pro-Public Education Candidates

AFT-NH Endorses Pro-Public Education Candidates

AFT-NH endorsed a slate of pro-education candidates for Governor, Executive Council, New Hampshire Senate, and New Hampshire House. Each of these candidates promises to be a strong voice for our teachers, our students, and our public schools.  AFT-NH President Deb Howes offered the following on the list of endorsements:

“The past two and half years have been some of the hardest for our members. Teaching during a pandemic, through remote and hybrid learning has been an enormous undertaking and challenge. Through it all our members have continued to work for what is best for their students. At the same time, they were facing pandemic-related challenges they also faced challenges from radical politicians in Concord. These politicians passed laws that look to silence and intimidate teachers from teaching honest history. Now, we see an unprecedented number of openings for teacher and support staff positions, many a direct consequence of the actions taken by the legislature these past two years.

Voter Registration Information for November 8th

Voter Registration Information for November 8th

It is important that all eligible persons who can vote on November 8th do so. In order to vote, you need to register. If you are newly 18 or have moved and need to register at your new address, or perhaps you checked your voting information and found that you are no longer registered, here is all of the information you need regarding voter registration. If you are all set, please share this information with friends and family.

There are two ways to register to vote.  You can do so by contacting your city or town clerk up to 10 days before the November 8 election. Please find out the specific deadline information for your town or city. Click here to contact your town or city clerk for registration deadlines and procedures and dates of town or city elections.