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State House News

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Right to Work (for less) Soundly Defeated

SO CALLED RIGHT TO WORK has been beaten back again. Union allies banded together to once again defeat this legislation designed to weaken our collective bargaining rights. The final vote was 212-168, a stunning rebuke of this awful legislation considering the makeup of the NH House. Thank you all for reaching out and making your voices heard in opposing this regressive bill that would have resulted in lower wages and less safe working conditions for Granite Staters.

In addition, this week the House took small steps in better funding education for our public school students by passing two bills (HB 1583 and HB 1686) that would result in an additional $130 million to our local neighborhood public schools. HB 1583 increases base adequacy per pupil funding by $222 to $4,404, establishes grants for districts with low equalized property values, as well as increased grants for districts serving students experiencing poverty. HB 1686 changes differentiated aid for Special Education students from a flat $2,142 per student to a range of $2,642 for Special Education students who receive most of their education in the regular education classroom up to $7,927 for students who need a large number of specialized services, programming, and equipment. These bills will head to the finance committee and then will go to the full House again. We know that $130 million is not enough to fully meet students’ needs and that this same week the superior court upheld their ruling that the state must do much more to adequately fund our schools and support the over 160,000 Granite State students that use them. We consider this a good faith short term effort but continue to urge our legislators to work on a permanent solution and fulfill their constitutional obligation to fund our schools.

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Voucher Bills and Book Ban Rejected

Reduced/Free School Lunch Expanded

IT WAS A GREAT DAY under the dome in Concord. The House passed a bill to expand free and reduced lunch, both of the voucher expansion bills that were on the floor were defeated, and we once again stood up against the banning of books in our schools. The House also stopped the raiding of the Education Trust Fund, protecting funds meant for our local neighborhood public schools.

Thank you to all our members and allies who reached out to their representatives on the two voucher expansion bills. Your activism made a

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It is vitally important to get these standards correct because they have a huge impact on the way the 160,000 students who rely on our local public schools access their public education. These standards set a floor for what sort of facilities they have, what programs are offered, whether class sizes are kept small, even whether they have a school nurse on site. What you approve in the ED 306 Rules will affect almost every aspect of their educational experience, for good or bad, yet to date there has been no systematic outreach to public school parents and students to find out what they like, value, and even cherish about their public schools and what they want to see improved. How can you know what needs to be kept and what needs to be changed if you haven’t asked this basic question of the most important stakeholders?

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AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1353

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

This totally unnecessary bill creates the false and frankly insulting impression that we have rampant problems with educator misconduct in so many of our public schools that it can only be solved by granting unprecedented investigatory power to the head of the Department of Education! Nobody wants the kind of person who would hurt students to stay in a position where they can ever do it again, whether that is as an educator, a volunteer, a sports coach, a clergy person or any other adult a child might encounter. However, when this proposal to give the commissioner subpoena power was introduced last year in an amendment to HB 533, a bill relative to public school human rights complaints we heard that there really isn’t a huge problem with educator misconduct in the Granite State. In discussion of that subpoena amendment in March 2023, the chief investigator for the Department of Education testified that there are very few instances of public school educator misconduct that result in loss of license. And an attorney for the Department of Education testified that when investigating potential violations of the Educator Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct, the department was usually able to get the information it needed, but it might need to wait until a local school district had finished an employment investigation first. She could point to no specific case where students were left in an unsafe situation due to the department having to wait while local districts followed the policies adopted by duly elected school boards.

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More Voucher Expansion Bills Up Next

Urgent Action Needed

Good news, bad news.  Two big victories and a very narrow defeat in the attempt to keep public money in public schools this week.  A bi-partisan group of lawmakers defeated both unlimited school voucher bills this week on strong bi-partisan votes. Your voices helped move lawmakers and made sure that the two universal school voucher bills were defeated. However, school vouchers were still expanded to 500 % of the federal poverty level, which in NH is $156,000 for a family of four when HB1665 was passed 190-189. One more single vote could have changed the outcome – it was that close! Then, even though this bill was supposed to go to House Finance due to the obvious financial impact it would have on the state, and come back to the House floor for a second vote, anti-public education extremist politicians decided there was no need to send it there. Instead, the bill will go directly to the Senate. Be ready to take action when it gets scheduled for a hearing on the Senate side. This one will not only hurt our students and our public schools, it will also raise your local property taxes.

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“There are 165,000 students and their families who trust and rely on our local neighborhood public schools for their education, and today the NH House let them down. Rather than focus on improving education funding so public educational opportunities are just as robust in Berlin and Claremont as they are in Bedford and Windham, today the NH House voted to expand school vouchers. While we are thankful the House exercised appropriate caution and fiscal restraint in defeating two unlimited school voucher bills, it did increase the income eligibility for the school voucher program to 500% of the

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AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1377

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH


Thank you, Chair Infantine and members of the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee

 

My name is Debrah Howes. I am president of the American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire. I am here to speak on behalf of our 3700 members across the state. Our members include preK through 12 public school educators and support staff, university faculty as well as town employees.

I am here today in support of my Union Brothers, Sisters and Family of the Labor Movement and against HB 1377.

Right-to-Work continues

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The law this bill seeks to repeal does its work of silencing appropriate and necessary classroom conversations because it never clearly explains exactly what is allowed and what is not. It threatens punishment up to and including the loss of teaching credentials and career if someone subjectively feels you have somehow violated the boundaries of law. We have had a year and a half to see how this works in schools and how it robs our public-school students of the robust education they deserve.

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Part-time uncertified employees would not have the tool kit certified teachers develop through their teacher preparation programs, practicums, student teaching, internships, and years on the job. Teaching is an art, craft, and skill as much as it is the knowledge of content that one is trying to convey to the student. When you have uncertified teachers, it is the students who lose. In fact, research shows that having an uncertified teacher is equivalent to losing 2 months of instructional time each year. Don’t shortchange our public school students!

For all these reasons, it does not make sense to allow noncredentialled individuals, who are not professional teachers to work in our public schools and call themselves educators. Our students deserve to have their needs considered and they deserve professional, credentialed teachers.

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Urgent Action Needed to Stop Universal School Vouchers

Breaking News ~ Stop Universal Vouchers.   Our public school students need your help now. The NH House calendar for next week now includes three bills that would significantly expand the school voucher program, making it universal, will be voted on by your state representatives.  Contact your state representative NOW and ask them to vote NO on these unaccountable and budget busting bills.

These three voucher bills, HB 1561, 1634, and 1665, will expand the state’s school voucher program so that any family, or almost any family, is eligible, yet still relying on the same overburdened taxpayers to fund it. These bills which come with a huge price tag are being presented at a time when they are ignoring the Court’s Con/Val ruling that shows they have been starving our local neighborhood public schools of necessary funds for decades and ignoring their constitutional obligation to provide all students in the Granite State with the opportunity for a robust public education. The extremists in the NH House will also vote on a plan to raid the Education Trust Fund so the money can’t be used to help public school students.

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