News

Share This

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.   

 

#######

AFT members dive into candidate endorsement process

As the presidential elections inch closer and the field of candidates gets more and more competitive, AFT members are engaging, parsing campaign platforms, asking questions of the candidates, and voicing their priorities as educators, healthcare practitioners and public employees. Thus far, the AFT has hosted eight AFT Votes town halls in eight different locations across the country, giving members the opportunity to meet candidates in person and hear about their stands on education, working families, healthcare and other top-line issues. Also part of the AFT’s robust endorsement process: surveys, debate parties and lots of information on AFTVotes.org.

Weingarten: Educators must save democracy

“Teachers have always had power,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told the crowd at the TEACH opening plenary Thursday afternoon. “We need to own our power. And we need to build our power so we can move our agenda—for our students and our families; for safe, welcoming and well-funded public schools; for affordable higher education; healthcare that is a right, not a privilege; a living wage; a decent retirement; a healthy climate and a strong democracy.”

Best economy ever?

In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column in the New York Times, she writes that, despite President Trump’s claims that we have the “best economy ever,” his policies are harming working and middle-class Americans, many of whom are struggling just to get by. “Our political and economic systems are so weighted toward the wealthy that opportunity will only come through the power of collective action,” she writes, using “the surest vehicles to increase opportunity for ordinary Americans”—public education, labor unions and voting. Read the full column.

Early childhood support requires adequate staffing

Some of education’s biggest problems come with its littlest students. At a working breakfast for paraprofessionals in prekindergarten, early childhood and Head Start, members swapped strategies for solving problems. Their discussion came during the AFT PSRP conference last week in Las Vegas, where paras from all over the country zeroed in on professional development and adequate classroom coverage.

AFT launches massive national campaign to fund public education

The AFT’s long-time advocacy for public schools has just been turbo-charged, with a sweeping, multi-pronged campaign to fund the future of American public education. Amid the continuing wave of teacher activism shining a spotlight on massive shortfalls in education investment, the Fund Our Future initiative aims to take the teachers’ megaphone into Congress, statehouses and communities nationwide.

Never again

“A majority of American teens say they are worried about a shooting happening at their school. Let that sink in,” AFT President Randi Weingarten writes in her latest column for the New York Times. “Young people are demanding meaningful action beyond ‘thoughts and prayers.’ They know, as do law enforcement officers and educators, that there are effective ways to address gun violence.” Read more about the proven strategies that would enhance school safety and reduce gun violence.
 

Cutting the heart out of higher ed

Betsy DeVos wants to alter the DNA of higher education, trying to change the definition of the credit hour, eliminate student-faculty interaction in some programs and allow schools losing their accreditation to charge students tuition. And it’s all disguised in the wonky and overwhelming “negotiated rulemaking” review process that begins Jan. 15.