The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.
The legislative session is now officially finished. The State House will see no action on any bill until September when work will begin on any bills retained by the committee.
Governor signs school voucher expansion. This week the Governor signed the expansion for the unaccountable, over budget and unproven school voucher program. We have talked a lot about this bill in this space and will continue to as New Hampshire continues to fail to adequately fund our local neighborhood public schools. Expanding voucher eligibility to families who make more than 100 thousand dollars is bad for your property taxes and bad for the state’s ability to finally fulfill its promise and fund our neighborhood public schools.
Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.
State Budget Approved and Proceeds to Governor
This week’s passage of a state budget by the NH Senate and House is a good news/ bad news story.
The good news is that we have a state budget that delivers more overall funding to neighborhood public schools, increases support for the University System of NH, gives state employees a long overdue raise after years of frozen wages and continues Medicaid expansion for the next 7 years that will help many Granite Staters in need. The bad news is it comes at an opportunity cost. This budget included a huge tax cut for the wealthiest people in the state – so wealthy that only 20 people actually pay it! It also increases eligibility for school vouchers to those who choose to send their children to private schools or homeschool them. Despite the increases in this budget, we still aren’t providing what all our students in every town and district need to learn and thrive. And in many towns, local property taxpayers just can’t make up the difference. The Granite State will remain next to last in state funding of local neighborhood public schools and last in funding of its university system. The expression “no budget is perfect” has been said a lot this week and it is definitely true.
Final Stretch of State Budget Approval Process
State Budget and Education Funding Every single Granite State student, no matter which district they come from, deserves a well-resourced neighborhood public school fully staffed by experienced, caring teachers and well trained paraeducators to support their learning. They also need the whole village of other people who help a student learn and take care of student needs during the school day such as: library media specialists, school counselors, behavior specialists, school nurses, secretaries, administrators, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers and many others. Those students need a local neighborhood school building in which to learn, with lights, heat, safe water and breathable air that won’t make them sick. They need transportation. They also need curriculum and supplemental learning materials such as: books, computers, digital licenses, paper, whiteboards and markers.
For Immediate Release Contact: Deb Howes
June 1, 2023 firstname.lastname@example.org
CONCORD, N.H.— Today, the Senate Finance Committee voted, along party lines, to send the budget as amended for a full Senate vote next week. AFT-NH President Deb Howes released the following statement:
“Granite Staters want quality neighborhood public schools in every district across the state and taxes they can afford. This budget once again fails to adequately fund our public schools and the 185.00 students who rely on them for a robust education but instead prioritizes tax cuts for the rich and expanding a bloated voucher scheme that is already hugely over budget and lacks any accountability. The accelerated interest and dividends tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy ($116 Million) and the extreme voucher expansion ($48 Million) account for more money than the increase in state funding to our neighborhood public schools in this budget.
New Hampshire citizens and public school advocates have successfully sued the State of New Hampshire over the Legislature’s failure to meet their constitutional obligation to adequately fund public education several times in the past 30 years and won. Several districts are currently in court fighting another case right now. Instead of favoring the ultra-rich and expanding an unaccountable voucher program, the Senate should focus on the needs of all Granite Staters including better education funding. There are 165,000 public school students and their families who are waiting for a better answer than the education funding formula passed by Senate Finance.