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.
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."
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.
AFT-NH President Deb Howes testified in opposition to HB 1206, the "Education not Indoctrination" bill which was heard in the House Education Committee. President Howes testified, in part, as follows:
"HB 1206 is a proposal that does nothing to help our public school students learn, grow and thrive. With its Orwellian name “Education not Indoctrination” and through its text, the bill creates the misleading impression that our public schools are engaging in indoctrination. That is patently offensive to the many hardworking teachers, paraeducators, counselors, administrators and other school
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.