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January 23, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

“Teacher unions.”  A phrase often heard in NH news this week.  Why?  Governor Sununu has come under strong criticism for omitting educators from the top tier categories for COVID vaccinations.  Forty-eight of the fifty states have put educators in the top tier, understanding that if they are vaccinated, then there will be fewer positives, fewer quarantines due to potential exposure, etc. Here in NH, there is a severe shortage of substitute teachers and para-educators to replace those required to quarantine.  If educators were vaccinated, the quarantine problem would begin to subside, the substitute shortage would be ameliorated, and more schools would begin returning to full-scale in-person learning.  Once that happens, parents can then return to work and a more normal life.  End result?  A quicker return to something resembling pre-COVID life in NH.  Now isn’t that something we are all waiting and hoping for this year? 

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January 17, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

Slowly but surely, the wheels are beginning to turn in the NH Legislature.  The Senate has already held a small number of online committee hearings, in essence testing out the system for remote access public testimony and working out any glitches.  The NH House is moving more slowly, with committees holding online orientation meetings for their members. 

The schedule for these meetings is in the House Calendar which can be found on the NH General Court website at http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/default.aspx).  If you seek to know when specific bills are scheduled for hearings you can check the Calendar which is published weekly or go to the bill search site if you know the bill number (for example, budget bill is always HB1).  The search page is http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/.

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January 10, 2021

Bow, NH

To say the first full week of 2021 was eventful is a gross understatement. The shocking attempt at a coup in Washington DC will be memorialized by historians but should not surprise anyone following politics the past twenty years.  Commentary is already flowing fast and furious, and there is little need to add to it.  Suffice to say, the attempted coup bears witness to the continued power and stridency of white supremacist thinking and rhetoric and its deep roots in American history and culture.  Sadly, lives were lost, including police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries incurred in the line of duty.  Unsurprisingly, Governor Sununu has not ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of Officer Sicknick. One can only suspect our dear governor is still holding his finger in the air, trying to determine the direction of the political winds before he considers acting or taking a stand in regards to the coup and his party leader, President Trump.

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January 1, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

Happy New Year!  It is time to wave a not-so-fond farewell to 2020!  One can only hope that 2021 is an improvement upon the year we all just endured.  Educators are exhausted, students are tired, health care workers are burning out, and NH’s COVID infection rates and the number of deaths continues to rise with unprecedented rapidity.  Meanwhile, as the NH Legislature prepares to resume its work in some sort of fashion, the Republican majority and the governor are preparing an unprecedented assault upon public education and upon labor unions.  So gird up, the next few months are going to be busy.  We will try to keep you informed as things develop and we will be asking for your aid and involvement as we work to prevent the gutting of public education and its privatization.  But first, let’s take a look at the context and setting, as the political circus prepares to open for the 2021 session.

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AFT-NH President Douglas Ley on Gov. Sununu’s Re-opening School Guidelines

Contact: Douglas Ley, AFT NH  President

Phone: (603) 831-3661

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9:00 A.M EDT, July 15, 2020



AFT-NH President Doug Ley issued the following statement in reaction to the guidelines issued by Governor Sununu.

“Once again, Gov. Chris Sununu fails the test of leadership.  With COVID infections spiking rapidly across the nation and with public health officials repeatedly stating that wearing masks is one of the easiest and most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus, the Governor refuses to mandate wearing of masks in schools.  In fact, the entire set of guidelines released today amount to a pile of nothing—little guidance, vague suggestions, and most important, no support provided by the State to local school districts facing huge costs as the school year approaches.  The Governor likes to act like a king doling out Federal CARES funds, but when it comes to actual leadership, the king abdicates.

From the start, the process of crafting guidelines for school reopening in Fall 2020 was fraught with difficulties, mostly self-inflicted.  The task force and supportive working groups appointed by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut contained virtually no public school teachers while sidelining leaders of statewide education organizations to a working group with no clear assignment or duties.  The initial materials sent out by the Commissioner featured numerous press articles touting individual stories of students thriving in online education but nothing on the work of educators and the looming challenges.  Even the survey touted today was tilted towards online education, and while the Governor cited the survey to justify his vague recommendations, the actual results have yet to be released, despite requests from myself and other working group members.

No required use of masks.  No State support to aid districts facing huge costs for heightened sanitizing and cleaning regimens.  No aid for districts when it comes to transportation (how many kids can you fit safely on a school bus?)  No help in obtaining PPE for schools.  No help in ensuring all students have equal access to remote learning when it becomes necessary (as it surely will).  And what about the teachers, para-educators, food service workers and administrative support staff?  What if their health is already compromised or if a loved one at home is vulnerable?  What provisions are to be made for them? 

Local control is part of the very foundation of public education in New Hampshire, but stronger State guidance and support can mesh with local control.  Local variations are real, but broad public health concerns crossing local district lines are also real, along with the scientific guidance that can help us in forming sensible policies.  Sadly, Governor Sununu has abdicated his leadership responsibilities when it comes to our students, teachers, and schools in New Hampshire.  We can only hope and pray that the patchwork approach adopted in New Hampshire does not lead to the same tragic results that we are now witnessing across the United States.”  

AFT-NH is a federation of 28 locals, and is the largest affiliate of the NH AFL-CIO.  Our 4000 members range from teachers to para-educators, school support staff, municipal employees, law-enforcement officers and higher education faculty, and we stand for equal access to quality public education, affordable health care, and maintaining the rights of working people to have protections and a voice in the workplace.   


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Randi Weingarten and NYC teacher Tamara Simpson

Attacks on public education in America by extremists and culture-war peddling politicians have reached new heights (“lows” may be more apt), but they are not new. The difference today is that the attacks are intended not just to undermine public education but to destroy it.

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