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State House News

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AFT-NH Testimony on HB 61 From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH Thank you, Chairperson Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee, for listening to my testimony today, My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.   AFT-NH represents 4,000 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. I am here today to speak wholeheartedly in favor of HB61 – Relative to Teaching on Discrimination in the Public Schools and in Public Workplaces. Make no mistake. My members enthusiastically support this legislation to repeal the so-called “Divisive Concepts” law passed in 2021. This so-called “Divisive Concepts” law is unconstitutional; politically motivated and unfair to students who should be learning historical facts, not censored or sugar-coated history. It is intimidating and punitive to teachers who have an obligation to teach honest history. It should never have been, nor should ever be, a law in New Hampshire. MORE
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Happy New Year and welcome to 2023. We hope you had a relaxing and restorative holiday season with family and friends. The first week of January means that the legislative session is officially back in the swing. After the November elections, Republicans controlled the Senate 14-10 and the House was as closely divided as it has ever been in history with 201 Republicans and 197 Democrats currently in the House. One tied race in Rochester Ward 4 will be decided in a special election in February. AFT-NH has endorsed Chuck Grassie for this seat. Another resignation by a newly reelected House member from Nashua will be filled by a special election on a date yet to be set. Divisive Concepts Law   The House Education Committee once again has over 100 bills to be heard and will be especially busy in the upcoming session. They are starting out this session quickly by hearing  House Bill 61 which would repeal the divisive concepts law on Thursday, January 12th at 9:30 AM in Representatives Hall.  The divisive concepts law passed two years ago in the budget was designed to prevent the teaching of honest history and is negatively impacting our students’ ability to learn critical information. As we all know this bill has already had a chilling effect on teachers, staff, and students. AFT-NH is currently suing the state over this horrendous law, but we all agree it would be better for the legislature to just stop this policy and its harmful effects in its tracks. MORE
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Welcome back to all of our teachers, paraeducators, and school support staff. We know the last few years have been full of new challenges every day and that through it all you have done everything for your students to help better their education and learning.  We wish you all the best in the upcoming year and hope for an easier, less tumultuous school year ahead.  MORE
AFT-NH Supports Education Funding Lawsuit CONCORD, N.H.— Yesterday in Superior Court a lawsuit was filed once again challenging the way that New Hampshire funds our local public schools. It is unfortunate that the New Hampshire legislature continues to underfund our schools leaving the local property taxpayers most of the tab to ensure children in their community can receive an education that will allow them to thrive. We know that in property-poor communities this means that the burdens on taxpayers can become overwhelming and schools are not able to provide their students with as many opportunities. MORE
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June 24, 2022 ~ Bow, NH In each biennium of the New Hampshire Legislature an issue is identified early that will be the focus of both the House and Senate. This year it became very clear immediately after Republicans took control of both chambers that the issue they were going to focus on was public education. There have been bills to control what can be taught and how teachers and students talk about it. There have been bills to take tax money from supporting the learning of all students attending public schools and divert it so a few students could attend private schools or programs. There have been many bills to limit the authority of locally elected school boards because partisan activists did not like the responses they were getting from these locally elected officials. This, as we know, did not happen in a vacuum. Public education has become a political issue nationally with everything from misinformation to disinformation to outright lies being used to rally a political base at the expense of our children’s education. MORE
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Strong finish to the Legislative Session HB 1431 Defeated May 27, 2022 ~ Bow, NH WE DID IT! In a victory for our students, this week we officially defeated HB 1431 in the House. Schools will remain a place where LGBTQ+ kids can have conversations with trusted adults and where they can feel safe having those conversations. The session is now done, and it was a great way to end it! 13 Republicans joined with all the Democrats and the two independents in the House to defeat the bill. The language we heard from opponents of this bill was truly disturbing, to put it mildly, but in the end, it was great to see this bill defeated. With the session now over, we turn our attention to candidate filing. The New Hampshire House needs strong supporters of public education. If you are interested in running for office, you should contact President Deb Howes at president@aft-nh.org  and we can help with the process. The filing period opens on the 1st and closes on the 10th.  We really do need you to step up for your communities and our schools and run for office. As we said above the session is now over. The end of the school year is just 3 weeks away. We hope everyone can take a break this summer and recharge. You have certainly all earned it. MORE
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May 20, 2022 ~ Bow, NH Despite the objections of a high-ranking member of their own party, House Republican leadership pushed the Parental Bill of Rights, which clearly is NH’s “Don’t Say Gay at School” through the Committee of Conference. HB 1431, would force teachers and school staff to disclose to parents any information that students share at school about their gender identity, if they join an inclusive club or even if they ask to be called by a different name or pronoun. If HB1431 becomes law, it will endanger the mental health, safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth in NH. We must continue to speak out against this bill to try and stop it. The full NH House and Senate must vote May 26th on whether to accept the Committee of Conference result. MORE
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Statement from AFT-NH President Deb Howes on House Bill 1431 Bow, NH ~ We are outraged that extremist Republicans from the New Hampshire House and Senate moved New Hampshire’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill forward. Under the pretext of restoring parental rights many of which are already in law, HB1431 would cause real harm to NH LGBTQ+ students. It would force teachers and school staff to out LGBTQ+ students by reporting to their parents anything they disclosed about their gender identity or sexual preference to trusted adults at school. For some LGBTQ+ students who do not come from safe and loving homes, this could lead to serious emotional duress, mental health issues, or physical harm. We are greatly encouraged that the Governor recognizes how dangerous this bill is and has pledged to veto it, however, make no mistake this bill does not deserve the support of our legislature and should be immediately defeated. ### MORE
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The harmful “Parental Bill of Rights” HB 1431 which would grant such sweeping rights to parents to be informed of anything and everything their child does while at school that it would take away the child’s ability to have a confidential conversation with a school counselor or discuss a concern with a teacher or other trusted adult at school has one more stop to make before it reaches Governor Sununu. This means we have another chance to stop it! The NH House and Senate passed different versions of this bill. Neither one of them is good for students, particularly LGBTQ students, because it requires that teachers and school staff inform parents of any important information about a child’s health, education and well-being. Among other things, the bill requires reporting on clubs and extracurricular activities as well as if the student requests to be called by a different name or pronoun at school. We know that LGBTQ students are at greater risk of physical or emotional harm if they come from a family who does not accept them for who they are. HB1431 would take away trusted adults at school from LGBTQ students when they might not have a trusted and supportive adult at home. MORE
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HB 1431 (parental bill of rights)  Despite pleas from education, child advocacy and human rights organizations, the majority in the NH Senate voted final passage on HB 1431 guaranteeing sweeping and uninterrupted parental rights in education while putting vulnerable children at risk of harm. The bill needlessly puts vulnerable children who do not come from safe homes with loving, caring adults at risk of harm and even death by limiting the rights of kids and of the State to protect them. We wish this were hyperbole, but it is not. The bill requires any teacher or school staff to disclose any important information they learn about a child’s health or well-being to a parent, making it impossible for a student to have a conversation or share a concern with a trusted adult in the school setting that they are not ready or not able to share at home. For LGBTQ+ students it can take away a safe place for them at a time in their lives when that space is vital. Without access to trusted adults and safe spaces at school, vulnerable children will be in danger: emotionally and possibly physically. MORE