2015 was a mixed bag for school choice and parents’ rights to direct their children’s education. While we won some, we lost many. The following bills are highlights of this legislative session.
One of the most important victories this year was at the grassroots level — more parents and concerned citizens became engaged. This is a game-changer and cannot be undervalued. It was in clear evidence with the opt-out movement across the state. More than half of Nashua’s juniors and more than 500 Manchester students (as of March 29, 2015) refused participation in the Common Core statewide assessments. We also heard that senators received more than 700 emails regarding one of our critical bills. This active engagement makes all the difference and will provide the momentum needed to build on this year’s work. Thank you!
WIN HB 206, relative to non-academic surveys and questionnaires
This law creates a study committee that will examine the various non-academic surveys and questionnaires that are given to public school students. It will also require districts to create a policy giving parents the option to have their child not participate in these surveys. Chapter 161 section 6 goes into effect August 25, 2015; the rest became effective on June 26, 2015. For more information read Parents’ Rights Upheld for Non-Academic Surveys.
WIN SB 204, repealing the education tax credit program
This bill sought to repeal the relatively new tax credit scholarship program that provides expanded educational options for student with modest means. This bill was defeated in a Senate roll call vote. For more information read What Do They Have Against Needy Students?
MIXED HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program
This was the most important and contentious education bill of the year. It was a high-stakes bill for the state Department of Education with consequences on the statewide assessments and No Child Left Behind waiver. Although the Committee of Conference version is a reasonable compromise that replaces the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the SAT or ACT exams for 11th graders, the rest of the bill may return in 2016 because the entire legislation was not killed. We also expect bills that focus on the experimental integrated assessment program, PACE, to return in multiple forms over the next couple years. The Governor signed this law and it will go into effect September 11, 2015. For details read HB 323 Goes Down to the Wire.
LOSS HB 603, relative to student exemptions from the statewide assessment
This was a bill that would explicitly give parents the right to refuse their child’s participation in statewide assessments. We are working to override the Governor’s veto; please sign our petition to send an email to all legislators. For additional information read Parents’ Rights Vetoed by Governor Hassan.
LOSS SB 101, prohibiting the state from requiring the implementation of common core standards
This clear and simple bill would have expressly prohibited the state from mandating Common Core standards thereby protecting local control. It also reinforced legislative intent to keep dispositions (values, attitudes, and beliefs) out of NH standards and assessments. Although SB 101 passed the House (in a roll call vote) and Senate, the Governor vetoed this bill.
LOSS HB 563, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils
The amended version of this bill proposed an increase of only $36 in year one and $1,036 per pupil in year two. Funding would hold rather static in the following years. This modest funding would enable chartered public schools to remain open, providing an important option to families who want alternatives to their zip-code assigned schools. This bill was integrated into the budget bill which was vetoed; however, we expect additional efforts to address charter school funding will be renewed when the legislature returns in September. Read the June 14, 2015 newsletter by the NH Center for Innovative Schools for more information.
To see the complete series of 2015 legislation, read
Part 1 — 2015 Legislative Wins
Part 2 — 2015 Legislative Losses
Part 3 — 2015 Legislative Mixed Results and Returning Bills