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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, (2022-019)

May 20, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

Despite the objections of a high-ranking member of their own party, House Republican leadership pushed the Parental Bill of Rights, which clearly is NH’s “Don’t Say Gay at School” through the Committee of Conference. HB 1431, would force teachers and school staff to disclose to parents any information that students share at school about their gender identity, if they join an inclusive club or even if they ask to be called by a different name or pronoun. If HB1431 becomes law, it will endanger the mental health, safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth in NH. We must continue to speak out against this bill to try and stop it. The full NH House and Senate must vote May 26th on whether to accept the Committee of Conference result.

Statement from AFT-NH President Deb Howes on House Bill 1431

Statement from AFT-NH President Deb Howes on House Bill 1431

Bow, NH ~ We are outraged that extremist Republicans from the New Hampshire House and Senate moved New Hampshire’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill forward. Under the pretext of restoring parental rights many of which are already in law, HB1431 would cause real harm to NH LGBTQ+ students. It would force teachers and school staff to out LGBTQ+ students by reporting to their parents anything they disclosed about their gender identity or sexual preference to trusted adults at school. For some LGBTQ+ students who do not come from safe and loving homes, this could lead to serious emotional duress, mental health issues, or physical harm.

We are greatly encouraged that the Governor recognizes how dangerous this bill is and has pledged to veto it, however, make no mistake this bill does not deserve the support of our legislature and should be immediately defeated.


AFT-New Hampshire Legislative Bulletin (2022-018)

The harmful “Parental Bill of Rights” HB 1431 which would grant such sweeping rights to parents to be informed of anything and everything their child does while at school that it would take away the child’s ability to have a confidential conversation with a school counselor or discuss a concern with a teacher or other trusted adult at school has one more stop to make before it reaches Governor Sununu. This means we have another chance to stop it! The NH House and Senate passed different versions of this bill. Neither one of them is good for students, particularly LGBTQ students, because it requires that teachers and school staff inform parents of any important information about a child’s health, education and well-being. Among other things, the bill requires reporting on clubs and extracurricular activities as well as if the student requests to be called by a different name or pronoun at school. We know that LGBTQ students are at greater risk of physical or emotional harm if they come from a family who does not accept them for who they are. HB1431 would take away trusted adults at school from LGBTQ students when they might not have a trusted and supportive adult at home.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-17 (Action Alert-Veto HB 1431)

HB 1431 (parental bill of rights)  Despite pleas from education, child advocacy and human rights organizations, the majority in the NH Senate voted final passage on HB 1431 guaranteeing sweeping and uninterrupted parental rights in education while putting vulnerable children at risk of harm. The bill needlessly puts vulnerable children who do not come from safe homes with loving, caring adults at risk of harm and even death by limiting the rights of kids and of the State to protect them. We wish this were hyperbole, but it is not. The bill requires any teacher or school staff to disclose any important information they learn about a child’s health or well-being to a parent, making it impossible for a student to have a conversation or share a concern with a trusted adult in the school setting that they are not ready or not able to share at home. For LGBTQ+ students it can take away a safe place for them at a time in their lives when that space is vital. Without access to trusted adults and safe spaces at school, vulnerable children will be in danger: emotionally and possibly physically.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-16

April 29, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

We can start with some celebration!  For the second week in a row, we saw HB 1393 get defeated, this time by the entire Senate on a voice vote. HB 1393 would have established rigid, per-pupil school budget tax caps that could have only been adjusted to inflation and would have been extremely harmful to school budgets. However, the celebration is dampened by the fact that the House has taken the language from 1393 and attached it to a bill currently in the House (more on this below).

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-15

The first bit of good news this week—is April break! We hope you all get to spend this week off relaxing and recharging for the last two months of school.  We can continue with some good news from the legislature this week—HB 1393 a convoluted bill that would have imposed school district budget caps that would have only been allowed to be adjusted to inflation, was voted ITL out of committee 4-1. The bill still has to clear the full Senate, but an ITL motion means it is closer than ever to being defeated.  If you haven’t contacted your state senator yet, please take a quick action to let your senator know you oppose this bill.

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.