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HB 1652 would create a local voucher program that could easily decimate our local neighborhood public schools and rapidly increase already burdensome property taxes across New Hampshire. The new program will further impoverish our neighborhood public schools, leaving our students with only a threadbare education. AFT-NH President Deb Howes testified in opposition to this bill before the House Education Committee today.

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Week in Review   This week the House Education Committee heard four separate school voucher bills. Three of those bills equated to universal voucher programs meaning that anyone of any income level could access the voucher program. What does this mean in practice? According to analysis by Reaching Higher New Hampshire at Reaching Higher NH  Universal Voucher Analysis 1-12-24 it would cost the state an additional 82 million dollars a year, with a total cost of the voucher program being north of $100 million dollars.

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AFT-NH President Deb Howes testified in opposition to HB 1419 (yet another book banning bill)

"Now is a time when we should be focusing on real solutions to make sure our Granite State students can learn and thrive in our public schools. We should be focused on making sure they all feel they are welcome and connected to their school community. In particular, this Legislature should be focusing on ensuring that each public school has enough resources to provide every student individual attention from the teacher, learning and behavior support for those who need it from trained paraprofessionals, school counselors and nurses, quality learning resources and all the other components of a robust public education. Instead, we get a bill that will divide communities, pitting families against each other, and make it easier to remove books from school libraries.

This is not the New Hampshire way where we highly value our individual freedoms. We see ourselves as different from the rest of the country, where nearly 250 years since our country’s founding, some Americans are still attempting to restrict others’ basic freedoms. Today, thousands of books in school libraries and classrooms have been caught up in a torrent of censorship. Public schools have become a cultural battlefield when they should be insulated from politics so they can focus on providing children with a strong, well-rounded education."

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AFT-NH on Request for Summary Judgment on Divisive Concepts Law

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For Immediate Release - January 16, 2024                                        Contact:  Deb Howes, president@aft-nh.org

                    

 AFT-NH on Request for Summary Judgment on Divisive Concepts Law                                                

                                                           

CONCORD, N.H.Statement by American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on today’s oral arguments before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, requesting summary judgment on the divisive concepts law:

“The divisive concepts law is unconstitutional, a hindrance to students’ ability to receive an honest education and a cudgel being held over teachers’ heads to limit truthful lessons. Instead of a long drawn-out trial, AFT-NH is asking the court to grant summary judgment and rule that this law has had a chilling effect on the free speech of teachers and school staff due to fear of being punished for violating some undefined and vague definition of a divisive concept.

“This law is robbing our students of the robust public education they deserve. New Hampshire teachers should not be restricted from teaching honestly about history, gender, race or identity. We can’t let extremists take over our public education system and limit inquiry and discussion and the right of all students to become engaged citizens in the real world. We shouldn’t go through another school year with teachers afraid their careers will be jeopardized, with some even leaving the profession, over an unconstitutional, politically inspired law.”

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Education Funding   Last week in addition to the bills we have previously highlighted, the House Education Committee focused on bills that look to solve our school funding problem. New Hampshire ranks 49th in state aid to our public schools, and even in the face of numerous previous court rulings that declared our funding formula unconstitutional, the legislature has not found anything close to the right solution to fix our school funding problems. That means that the 160,000 students that attend their neighborhood public school in New Hampshire have public educations that vary due to zip code as our reliance on property taxes cause some districts to be able to afford smaller class sizes and more robust educational opportunities for their students. Every Granite State student has the constitutional right to a robust public education and it does not depend on where they live in the state.


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2024 Legislative Session Opening Week

Action Needed

The legislative session opened this week, and we are already seeing a continuation of the divisive culture war attacks on students and teachers rather than real solutions that will help our kids learn and grow and our communities thrive. And Right to Work is back – again.

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