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AFT-NH Press Release

AFT-NH Statement on the Defeat of Voucher Expansion

 CONCORD, N.H. - Statement by AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on the defeat of HB 1665, the expansion of the school voucher program:

 

“Today's defeat by the NH House of HB 1665, which would have expanded the state's school voucher program, is a huge victory for all public-school students and local property taxpayers. Every Granite State student has the constitutional right to a robust public education and the state needs to start shouldering its fair share of funding for public school districts. 

 

The State has a constitutional obligation to fund the robust public education of 165,000 public school students and it MUST meet that obligation! It needs to stop looking for ways to give away tax money to private educational options through vouchers.”


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“The court agreed that the law unconstitutionally restricted what teachers can teach. This decision should put to rest the issue, and New Hampshire teachers will no longer have to live under a cloud of fear of getting fired for actually teaching accurate, honest education.”


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For Immediate Release                                                                                                                       

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.

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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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I’m here today because the bottom line is simple and the reality is clear. President

Biden defends public education. Donald Trump attacks it. President Biden supports our

educators. Donald Trump supports billionaires.

As President Biden said in his State of the Union address, in order to remain the

strongest economy in the world, we need to have the best education system in the

world. That’s why he’s investing in educators after Donald Trump left them behind.

President Biden invested $170 billion in K-12 schools – the single largest-ever

investment in education funding. Here are some examples of how that helped!

  • This investment has allowed us to hire more certified teachers to help students catch up in reading and math. In fact, state test results from last year showed that NH is leading the country in getting student achievement back to where it should be after the disruptions of the COVID pandemic.
  • It has allowed negotiated salary increases to retain experienced, certified public school teachers and paraeducators – a very difficult thing to do in this time of educator shortages.
  • Pres. Biden’s Infrastructure Law expanded rural broadband – which in a state like NH helps many of our students as well as our staff. It is so much harder for students to do their homework or teachers to do their lesson planning if they have to go to the nearest fast food restaurant to use their wifi. 
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CONCORD, N.H.—Statement by AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on SB 341, requiring teachers and other school employees to truthfully and completely answer any question by parents or face termination. The House Education Committee plans to discuss and vote on the bill on Monday, April 22.

“You could call this bill ‘son of parental bill of rights’, which the Legislature rejected in the last session. Teachers should be allowed to simply teach and do their jobs, instead of forcing them to pay attention to what kids wear, say and do and then be tattletales if asked by parents. This is another attempt to intimidate teachers with a scary but vague law that holds career-jeopardizing consequences, not so different from the equally offensive ‘divisive concepts’ law. This is not what most N.H. parents want and doesn’t move the needle at all in terms of improving our schools or student achievement. To be frank, this law will get in the way of teachers being able to focus on their teaching and students being able to feel safe and concentrate on their learning.”

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

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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AFT-NH President Deb Howes on the Proposed Rules on Learn Everywhere Program"

"When the State Board of Education gives its approval to a Learn Everywhere program, or any program, it tells parents that program fits with its mission. It is saying this program has academic rigor, will help students learn and thrive. If it doesn’t,  it shouldn’t get State Board approval. These proposed changes to the Learn Everywhere rules don’t help the State Board reach that goal.     

I urge you to reject these proposed rule changes."

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CONCORD, N.H. Today, the Rockingham Country Superior Court ruled that the state’s funding of education is unconstitutional. The court also ruled that towns are no longer able to keep their excess SWEPT. AFT-NH President Deb Howes released the following statement:

“The court’s ruling today re-affirms what we have been saying for years, the state funding of our neighborhood public schools is inadequate and unconstitutional. The continued underfunding of our schools deprives many Granite State public school students of enough expert teachers to give them the individual attention they deserve, the help of skilled, caring paraeducators to support their learning and the counselors and social workers to help students navigate the many other challenges that can get in the way of learning."

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“The court’s decision is disappointing but not surprising. The court actually said the quiet part out loud, stating that the state does not have an obligation to provide a constitutionally adequate education to children whose parents opt to provide them a private education. That stunning admission should shock the public to its core and give everyone pause about the accountability and quality of voucher schools."

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