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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-14

April 16, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

Some good news.   We get to start this week’s bulletin with some good news! HB1434—the bill that would have required teachers to keep, and share all curriculum lesson plans, and all instructional materials with any person who lives within the school district, was recommended for interim study by the Senate Education Committee. An interim study motion out of the full Senate will mean the bill is defeated. Most districts already have policies and methods for sharing approved curriculum. As professionals we all welcome two-way communication with parents about what students are learning in class and how the work is going. That is how we work together as a team to help students succeed! However, 1434 could have been used as a tool to harass teachers with endless requests by individuals who had no connections to students in the class, taking time away from teaching and learning.  We are glad to see the interim study recommendation.

Testimony by AFT-NH Deb Howes on SB 1393 (School Budget Cap)

Testimony of AFT-NH on HB 1393

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

To the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee Dear Chairman Gray and members of the committee:

My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers -NH. AFT-NH represents 3,500 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education staff across New Hampshire.

I write to oppose House Bill 1393. This bill would impose burdensome budget constraints on our schools at a time when they should be focused on helping students recover from the pandemic. By setting up a “fast track” process for local school budget caps to be proposed and voted on - potentially by only a small minority of residents - this bill could hamstring district budgets and drain funding from our public schools before most parents or voters even know the ramifications.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-13

April 9, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

We now have less than a month until all the bills need to be voted on by the full House and Senate and less than 2 months until the last day of the legislative session which is scheduled for May 26th. As the work ramps up on the House and Senate, we continue our focus on the 4 major bills remaining.

Parental Bill of Rights   This week we heard testimony on the so-called “Parental Bill of Rights”, (HB 1431), which is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we continue to say in this space, schools work best when parents and teachers work together as a team to support students, but this bill has many flaws that will do nothing but sow confusion in the classroom and potentially pit parents against each other. Worse yet, the sweeping assertion of absolute parent rights in this bill would remove community protections for vulnerable children – those extra sets of eyes who notice and report when something seems to be going wrong in a child’s life before it reaches a tragic point. We heard these concerns from the Office of the Child Advocate and from Waypoint Child and Family Services on the dangers to children if this bill passed. The testimony was emotional and a real look into what could become a more common reality if this bill passes. We continue to urge the committee to defeat this bill.

Testimony of AFT-NH on HB 1431 “Parental Bill of Rights” From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers -NH. AFT-NH represents 3,500 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education staff across New Hampshire

I am here to express the concerns of my members with HB1431 and ask that you oppose it. The stated aim of House Bill 1431 is praiseworthy, but as an elementary school teacher for 18 years, I can testify that the implementation will cause problems. Teachers and school staff want and welcome parental engagement in education – in fact, we’re desperate for it. Decades of research and data tells us that kids do best when their teachers and parents collaborate and work together to support them, whether it’s in academics, social skills, or anything else they face. But that partnership isn’t something you can legislate, at least not the way this bill is currently written.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-12

April 2, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

Crossover   Happy April! April means a few things. It means we can hopefully start to open windows; it means the days continue to get warmer and it means that legislative “crossover” is done. All the bills that are going to make their way from the House to the Senate and vice versa have done so and now those bodies will begin work on them.  The time from crossover to the end of session will happen quickly. By May 5th, just over a month from now, all bills must be acted on by the House and Senate.  As we get closer, we will go into the committee of conference process that happens after the 5th for bills that have been amended but for now it is clear that things will happen quickly.   

AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1131 (regarding face coverings in schools)

My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.  AFT-NH represents 3,500 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education staff across New Hampshire.

I write to you in opposition to HB1131 – relative to facial covering policies in schools. We are all overjoyed that COVID case transmission numbers have come down significantly and we are now, many of us, going without masks. Believe me, many of my members are enjoying being able to see whole faces at school, including lots of smiles. No one is eager to ever see a return to everyone wearing masks, but we also know that masks were an effective tool when case numbers were extremely high as part of the layered mitigation strategy that kept the spread of the virus in check in our schools and allowed schools to remain open. We cannot predict what future variants this virus may develop, nor can we predict what other airborne viruses may occur in the future. It would be shortsighted to remove an effective tool from the toolbox of local school boards, who are the ones who make these policies.

AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1434 (availability of school curriculum materials)

My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.AFT-NH represents 3,500 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education staff across New Hampshire.

I am here to express the concerns my members have with HB 1434 – relative to the availability of school curriculum materials. We feel that if passed, this bill will take time and focus away from student learning, create additional paperwork and recordkeeping for teachers and not improve parental knowledge of what is being taught in the classroom. We urge you to find this bill Inexpedient to Legislate.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin (2022-11)

It was a quiet week for education bills this week. Bills have begun to be assigned to their committees and we have a couple of bills that are high on the priority list that are being heard next week. In addition to the beginning of Senate bills being heard by the House and the House bills being heard by the Senate, the House and Senate are both in session this week to deal with the rest of their bills before crossover.

Priority Bills and Action Requests.  We have what we consider four priority bills remaining for this legislative session. We have talked about them before in the bulletin but wanted to give you an easy place to look and reference moving forward.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-10

March 19, 2022 ~ Bow, NH
We are now through the busiest part of the legislative season. While “crossover” is technically not for another two weeks the majority of the bills that were voted “ought to pass” in the House are now on their way to the Senate. Senate bills are also making their way over to the House. There are still bills that we will need action on in the coming weeks, but we want to take a minute to celebrate some victories.

Victories! This week we saw HB1255, “Relative to Teacher’s Loyalty” sent to the trash bin of history where it belongs. HB1671, a bill that started as an extreme attempt by Commissioner Edelblut to destroy public education, transformed into a bill that would strengthen education and was passed by the House. We also saw the House table HB1072 which would have allowed School Board members unfettered access to personnel files, student records, and to our school facilities.  These bills were victories for public education, but predictably it was not all good news this week.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-09

March 12, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

We are now into one of the busiest times for the legislative session. “Crossover” is the time when all House bills need to make their way to the Senate and Senate bills need to make their way over to the House. The deadline for this to happen is March 31st and with that date fast approaching the House is scheduled to meet for 3 days next week on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, and the Senate is scheduled to meet on the 17th.  The House alone will have to vote on an astounding 212 bills over 3 days. Due to the looming deadlines, House Education has finished its work on all of its House bills deciding what to do with all 103 bills that came to the committee this year.