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For Immediate Release                                                Contact:   Deb Howes, president@aft-nh.org, 603-930-9248                                                                                  

AFT-NH: Voucher and Part-Time Teacher Bills Show Disdain for Public Education

CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement by AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on HB 1298, allowing uncertified teachers with no college education to be part-time public school teachers, and HB 1665, which expands the state’s voucher program by increasing the funding eligibility cap from 350 percent of the federal poverty level to 400 percent. Both bills passed the Senate on Wednesday and head back to the House for a concurrence vote, an agreement to create a “committee of conference” to work out differences or a defeat through refusing to do either.

“The ball is now in the House’s court to defeat two bills that show smug disdain for Granite State public school students. It is beyond imagination that this Legislature, as anti-public education as the majority has been, would approve a bill allowing people to teach up to 30 hours a week in public schools even if they are not certified to teach, don’t have a college degree or have no work experience in a specialized field. This shows a crass indifference to the needs of every public school student and their families and demonstrates that certain lawmakers have no understanding of what it takes to educate our children. If this passes, the Granite State would be a national embarrassment for the quality of teachers it permits in classrooms and how it treats its students.

“The other bill that would damage public education and waste taxpayer dollars would expand the unaccountable, already over-budget school voucher program. Our public school students, the local neighborhood public schools and local property taxpayers deserve better than pouring more dollars into a program that has cost more than ever anticipated for its entire existence and has not shown any independent evidence of improved academic outcomes. It would be best to take the millions of dollars from the voucher program and put them into meeting the state’s constitutional duty to fully fund its public schools.”

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Tell Governor Sununu to Veto HB 1312

If Gov. Sununu signs HB 1312, teachers need to get ready to send home parental notices about almost every literature, history, social studies, art and music lesson.

This week the New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 1312 expanding parental notification requirements through a law originally written for parents who wanted to opt their students out of sexual education classes. HB 1312 is a vaguely written bill that expands the two week opt out notice from topics that include human sexuality and human sexual education to also include any curriculum, program, or course materials that includes mention of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression in any class.

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Don’t Weaken Our Public Schools

Defeat Expansion of School Vouchers and Uncertified Part-Time Teachers

Breathtaking hypocrisy in the Senate Education Committee this week as moments after Senator Tim Lang said that the State of New Hampshire did not have enough money in the Education Trust Fund to invest in helping students with special education needs get better supports in their public schools and lowering the burden on local property taxpayers, he introduced an amendment that would raise the income level on the over budget, unproven school voucher program from 350% of the federal poverty level to 400%.  So, we can’t afford to help 30,000 students with special education needs in our public schools, but we can give a state subsidy to families earning up to $125,000 to send their kids to private school (most of these kids were already in private education). Even worse, estimates show that the voucher increase will cost an estimated $30 million in new state spending next year and the increased special education aid would have cost $17 million next year.

We should not be surprised by this as the same folks who are supporting this school voucher expansion also supported expanding it while simultaneously denying kids free and reduced lunch at school.

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HB 1311, also known as the Freedom to Read bill, strikes the right balance in recognizing the needs, interests and responsibilities of students, families, and schools when it comes to school libraries. It requires that all school boards adopt clear policies for their district on how they build their library collections and on what steps to take if a parent or guardian feels  there is material in the collection that doesn’t belong there or is accessible to the wrong age level. This is the right balance, respecting the rights and interests of all involved.

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The heart of our schools are our teachers.

What makes Granite State teachers so special is their commitment to the success of every student. Student needs are at the center of everything teachers do, inside and outside of the classroom.

New Hampshire is in the midst of a mental health crisis; while the causes are complex and varied, we know this crisis is hitting our children the hardest. The teachers at Timberlane Regional High School recognized this issue and took action. Outside of their work hours, and for no extra pay, two teachers organized a Mental Health Awareness Week. Students and parents were invited to attend a series of events together that sought to overcome the stigma that often accompanies mental health issues. These teachers, and all of our teachers, recognize that schools operate best when students are supported by parents and teachers.

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Great News - Teacher Spy Bill (HB 341) Defeated

An important victory this week! SB 341— the bill that would have made teachers spy on all their students, make note of everything they said, did or wore to school in case a parent asked about it later; a bill that would distract teachers from teaching and students from learning, was defeated. A bi-partisan group of pro-education, pro-student, pro-parent, and pro-teacher legislators came together to defeat this legislation for the third year in a row. We are thankful for them and thankful for you, for all of your work to make sure your legislators knew to vote against this bill.

As the House and Senate finish up their business, there are couple of bills we are left tracking:

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