Education Bills Schedule for Week of April 13, 2015

“Cross over,” when the House and Senate exchange bills, is well underway. Unless otherwise indicated, the following bills are scheduled for a committee meeting which is the opportunity for public testimony. This is the best chance to communicate with the committee members and share your opinion on bills. The public has until the executive session to make an impact on how the committee will vote, which is very influential when the entire body votes. The Senate Education Committee may exec anytime after a bill’s public hearing. Brief phone calls are more effective, but an email will certainly help as few legislators hear from constituents. Contact information for the Senate education Committee is at the end of this post.

The House Education Committee does not have any sessions scheduled for this week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

** 9:00 a.m. HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program (as amended)
position — OPPOSE
more information — This bill writes a specific and still experimental assessment program, the New Hampshire Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE), into statute. This bill also makes NH beholden to all future federal educational waivers and accountability standards. There is another amendment that may be introduced that would not specify PACE, removes references to the federal waivers and accountability standards, and allows for parental refusals. The language is very similar to HB  603 (see below). If this amendment is introduced, it should be supported.

** 9:20 a.m. HB 603, relative to student exemptions from assessments, questionnaires, or surveys (as amended)
position — SUPPORT
more information — This bill explicitly reinforces parents’ rights to opt out their child from academic and non-academic materials. State statute does not trump federal law and SCOTUS rulings. Neither amendment in the House Calendar address student privacy, only the original bill prevents the public from obtaining student refusal forms under the Right to Know law. This bill is necessary to refute the NH DOE’s Technical Advisories which districts are mistakenly using to trample parents’ rights. See A Parent’s Right to Opt-Out, Do Federal Funds Incentivize Schools to Compromise Parents’ Rights? and  Controversial Surveys and Questionnaires Need Opt-Out.

9:40 a.m. HB 491, relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor (as amended)
position — OPPOSE
more information — Terms such as “reasonable force,” “maintain decorum or safety,” and “believe it necessary” are vague and undefined. Special training for properly defusing these scenarios is not included in the bill. School districts could face greater liability if a child is hurt or the actions are not deemed justified.

10:00 a.m. HB 555, relative to participation of chartered public school students in school district cocurricular activities
position — SUPPORT
more information — This bill clarifies that charter school students may participate in co-curricular activities of their resident district.

10:20 a.m. HB 577-FN-A-L, establishing a children’s savings account program.

To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page.

The following is the Senate Education Committee‘s contact information.

John Reagan, Chairman

Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman

Kevin Avard

Molly Kelly

David Watters