AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin
Public Education is still under attack. It was another busy week of public hearings on education bills. The bills ranged from public school choice allowing attendance at any school district in the state to trans bathroom bans to book bans. Extremism by anti-education politicians was in full force this week. Those bills and many others will be voted on in committee next week and we will keep you up to date on how the committee deals with these bills.
CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on HB 514, a bill to provide a procedure for people to complain about so-called obscene materials in K-12 and higher education classes and public libraries but that does not even clearly define what would be considered obscene:
“For all intents and purposes, this legislation about the dissemination of obscene materials is a book ban bill. Incredibly, the bill’s sponsors don’t even have the guts to clearly define what would be considered obscene, so it’s really meant to intimidate teachers and deprive students—both school-aged and adults—of books that one person who files a complaint deems objectionable. It practically begs parents or guardians to complain about a particular book to their local school board in the case of public schools, opening the way to a chaotic free-for-all. For public universities, public libraries and museums, it adds the Department of Education to the agencies that can initiate legal hearings to find material ‘obscene’ after receiving anonymous citizen complaints. Higher education faculty actually could be arrested, charged and indicted if they are found to be using a book that is judged to be obscene, whatever that means.
AFT-NH Testimony on HB 441
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chairperson Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee, for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH. AFT-NH represents 4,000 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. My members work with approximately 29,000 of the 165,000 public school students in New Hampshire in one way or another. I am writing today in opposition to HB441, eliminating residency requirements for public school attendance.
We often say that all Granite State students should have access to a great public education regardless of which zip code they live in, and we mean it. New Hampshire has a long tradition of cherishing public education. It is so important, we enshrined public education in our constitution. Despite cherishing public education, New Hampshire has a problem with how it funds public education, as the courts have found repeatedly. And that is where the problem with this proposal comes in. NH ranks last in state funding for public schools. In fact, out of every dollar spent by a local school district, about $0.64 comes from local property taxes, $0.31 comes from state funding and the remaining $0.05 comes from federal funding, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
CONTACT THE NH SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE TODAY!
On Tuesday, the NH Senate Finance committee will begin discussing SB57: relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement annuities at age 65. This bill is one we have seen several times in the last few years because it moves the 10% reduction Group I members receive in their pension benefit at age 65 to social security age, which currently is 67.
Below there is a link to talking points with historical information as well as an email/call template for your outreach Most importantly, this year we are the CLOSEST to passing such legislation and WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Please take a moment to email and call the members of the Senate Finance committee who will vote on this bill next week. This bill impacts ALL active Group I members, but those closest to retiring could see an impact very soon. This bill would allow you to collect 20% more pension benefit between age 65-67.
Currently, the average Group I benefit average is approximately $20,000. This would mean if passed a Group I member will be able to collect an additional $4,000 between age 65 and 67 that they currently lose due to this law.
AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin
Well, it finally feels like winter. The temperatures this weekend will be dangerously cold, and we hope you are all able to stay warm in your homes and safe. If you do have to go out, please bundle up and be safe! And if you believe the groundhog, we will have 6 more weeks of winter!
Next week will be another big and busy week for education in the State House. This week the House Education Committee voted to expand the voucher program from 300% of federal poverty to 350%, despite the program already being over budget and without any accountability. We must stop this bill on the floor and will provide actions next week! In the meantime, below we have highlighted priorities for next week and actions to help push back and protect public education.
The Edelblut/Cordelli Book Ban Next week the House Education Committee will hear the Edelblut/Cordelli Book Ban. One part of HB 514 bans public schools from displaying or disseminating “obscene material” without, of course, a definition of what obscene material means. In an interview on WMUR just a couple of weeks ago, Frank Edelblut alluded to wanting to see books banned in public schools and we have already seen some school boards or school board members look to implement this disgusting practice. Obscene materials policies and book banning is also generally aimed at the LGBTQ community and banning books is often an attempt at erasing the LGTBQ community.
AFT-NH Testimony on SB 141
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chairperson Ward and Members of the Senate Education Committee, for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH. AFT-NH represents 4,000 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. I am writing today in support to SB141, relative to administration of the education freedom accounts program
Let me be clear. I do not think that we should be having taxpayer funded education vouchers at all. I do believe that parents have a choice in where to send their children to school, or whether to educate them at home. I disagree with the notion that taxpayers have an obligation to fund that choice. I particularly disagree with the idea that taxpayers have an obligation to fund that choice with no real assurances that the money is being spent wisely or for the purpose intended. To that end, this bill would improve some gaps in the existing voucher program.