AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-08

February 20, 2018 - Bow, NH

A busy week in the State House, though a relatively quiet one when it comes to legislation of direct concern to AFT-NH.  In terms of actual legislation, the Senate passed SB 441, which requires school districts to create policies upholding the finality of grades assigned by teachers.  Except in limited cases (technical or clerical error), this would make teacher-assigned grades the final word, preventing administrators from altering grades of athletes or certain vociferous parents.  Consider it a rare recognition of the professionalism of our public school teachers! 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-07

February 12, 2018 - Bow, NH

The House failed this past week to finish its scheduled business, due to the snow-day granted by the Speaker on Wednesday.  That left one day for work, which simply was not enough, so the backlog of House legislative work will be made up on this Thursday, February 15.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-06

Given the length and detail of the past couple of bulletins, I will keep this one short.  It was another busy week up in Concord, with committees holding hearings on numerous bills of interest to AFT-NH.  The Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 1277, to reduce from five to three years the time in which a teacher is an ‘at will’ employee with no right to a hearing or explanation for a termination.  I testified in favor of the bill, but it is unlikely the bill will get a positive recommendation from the committee, largely because the current system (in place since 2011) gives districts two additional years in which budgetary issues can be easily addressed by terminating teachers.  Uncertainty on the job is not the best way to treat education professionals, and the current five-year ‘at will” period only makes recruitment and retention of teachers that much more difficult.  Nevertheless, I do not hold out much hope for a positive outcome this session.

AFT-NH ACTION ALERT HB 413-Restore Retirement Funding to Cities and Towns

We are asking you to reach out to your New Hampshire State Representatives in advance of February 7th when the NH House reconvenes. Please take this ACTION to contact your state representative(s) directly and ask them to support passage of HB 413. 

HB 413, defeated by the House back in early January by a narrow margin of 6 votes, will come back for another vote on February 7 or 8.  Remember this bill passed by a huge majority, 265-83, on February 15, 2017. We are asking you to help persuade your legislators that it is time to honor the State’s promised commitment, stop the downshifting of costs onto local taxpayers, and provide localities with the property tax relief needed to permit funding of existing programs and facilities, never mind improvements or even expansions! Please tell your representatives that it is time the NH House provided relief to local property taxpayers and fulfilled prior promises.

AFT-NH President Doug Ley Testimony In Support of HB 1277- Renomination of Teachers

In sum, neither I nor AFT-NH see any logical or sound pedagogical reason for a five year “trial” period for teachers.  They are professionals charged with carrying out the sacred duty of educating tomorrow’s citizenry.  Bearing that heavy responsibility, they deserve respect and the right to answer and to challenge when not recommended for rehire.  Three years is certainly enough time to identify, work with, and perhaps even non-renew those not deemed adequate to bear these heavy responsibilities.  It is on that basis, then, that AFT-NH and I support HB 1277.

 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-05

January 29, 2018 - Bow, NH

Legislative activity, particularly committee hearings, are in full swing now in Concord, NH, meaning this past week was quite busy and the upcoming looks to be more of the same.  Here is a quick review of what happened and what lies ahead, from the perspective of AFT-NH.

SB 193   The “elephant in the room” remains SB 193, what many label the “voucher bill.”  SB 193 proposes taking  public money from public schools and transferring it to a private agency which will then set up “education savings accounts” to defray the costs of home-schooling or sending children to private (including religious) schools.  The purpose of this convoluted approach is to “launder” the money in an effort to wash it of its public character, thereby avoiding constitutional prohibitions on public funding of religious schools.  The bill had more hearings this week in the Finance Committee, which is trying to ascertain the cost to the State and to local taxpayers, who would need to replace the lost funds.  Since the bill’s provisions are so broad a large percentage of NH students might be eligible, and efforts by the Finance Committee to obtain estimates of costs going beyond the first year have been stymied by bill supporters and the State’s own Department of Education, led by education privatization advocate, Commissioner Frank Edelblut.  The key hearings will likely occur this coming week when the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is likely to bring forth its estimates of costs running thirteen years out (to full implementation of SB 193).  In case you missed it, please be sure to read AFT-NH’s report on SB 193 entitled Following the Wrong Path: What Can Education Savings Account Programs In Other States Tell New Hampshire About SB 193? 1-16-18