The following is the legislative schedule for the week of April 25, 2016. Although there are only a handful of bills this week, a few are of particular importance and marked with asterisks. Brief, polite calls and emails are effective; mention if you are a constituent. All contact information is at the end of this post.
TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2016: SENATE EDUCATION, ROOM 103, LOB
Executive sessions on any pending legislation — Although we do not know for certain which bills the committee will consider, we expect the following ones may be addressed.
*HB 1229, prohibiting the inclusion of statewide assessment results in a student’s transcript without consent.
position — SUPPORT
information — This is a reasonable privacy protection for students. The statewide assessment is not designed as a measurement for individual performance. It was originally created for school district comparisons as well as school and teacher accountability. This bill prevents assessments from being used for a purpose for which they were not intended.
***HB 1338, relative to student exemption from the statewide assessment.
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is in response to increasing demand from parents to refuse their child’s participation in mandatory testing, including the statewide assessments that are aligned with College and Career Readiness Standards (aka Common Core). This bill acknowledges parents’ rights to direct their children’s education. If the student does not participate in the assessment, this bill requires schools to provide an alternative educational activity which can be as simple as study hall or free reading time. This bill also protects the schools from any penalty from non-participation. There are documented instances of NH districts getting more aggressive and punitive with families who refuse their children’s participation in statewide assessments. For more information, read Senate Gives Parents’ Rights Bill a Chilly Welcome and Districts are Bullies and HB 1338, Respecting Parents’ Rights.
TUESDAY, APRIL26, 2016: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207, LOB
Committee work sessions for the following bills
HB 1457, establishing a code of professional ethics for New Hampshire teachers.
position — OPPOSED
information — This is another bill that stems from HB 206 (2015)‘s study committee. They noted that NH is among only a handful of states that does not have an ethics code for teachers. However, this is not the proper role of the state. Local school boards can develop ethics policies and be responsible for the supervision and enforcement of those standards. There is no evidence to support that personnel matters are not being successfully handled at the local level to justify the anticipated expansion of the Professional Standards Board. While the stated standards are well-intended, they are vague and may be outside the teacher’s control.
***HB 1371, establishing a committee to study education savings accounts for families of special needs students.
position — SUPPORT
information — There are five states that offer Education Savings Account programs — Arizona (2011), Florida (2014), Mississippi, Tennessee and Nevada (new in 2015). The two more established programs have been immensely successful. These programs can especially benefit low-income families who face the greatest challenges financing their children’s educational needs. The AZ program is funded via a state voucher, and the FL program is funded through a tax-credit program, so they provide good sources of information. These programs, even the one in AZ, has passed constitutional challenges. At the executive hearing it was noted that there is an error in the bill. The final report by the study committee would be due on September 1, 2017, and that is beyond the current biennium term, therefore it is not allowed. Therefore the committee reconsidered the bill, changing their recommendation to refer to interim study. For more information on ESAs, read Education Savings Accounts: Giving Parents a Choice by Foundation for Excellence in Education; How to Fund Education Savings Accounts with Tax Credits by Education Next, January 20, 2016; and As Population of Low-Income and Special-Needs Students Grows, So Do School-Choice Innovations, January 30, 2016.
HB 1561-FN, relative to freedom of expression on college campuses.
HB 1652-FN-A, establishing a teacher preparation for mathematics education scholarship program.
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2016: SENATE SESSION, Senate Chamber at 10:00am
full NH Senate will vote on the following bills
HB 1301, relative to the issuance of youth employment certificates.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, 4-0
position — SUPPORT, YEA on OTP/A
The current statute, RSA 276-A:5, presents an unfair burden for non-public school students who seek employment certificates as it requires authorization by a school principal who is not involved in his/her education. This bill puts the authority in the hands of parents, as they know how their children are performing academically and what strain, if any, employment would put on their school work. The committee amendment, #1511s, makes a small change specifying that youth provide proof of age and adequate health. This is consistent with other parts of the statute. For more information, including the opposition’s claims and suggested talking points, read Senate Advances Employment Bill and Permission to Get a Job.
***HB 1637-FN, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools.
committee recommendation — Interim Study, 5-0
position — SUPPORT amendment #1343s, NAY on Interim Study, YEA on OTP/A
information — This bill clarifies in statute that small towns without their own public schools may offer alternative arrangements for their students, regardless of grade level. These agreements could be made with area public and private schools. This is consistent with RSA 194:22 and RSA 193:1. It is also in line with other NH districts creating tuition agreements with private schools, even some located out of state. At the Senate public hearing, an amendment, #1343s, was introduced that would address some of the housekeeping issues with the version as passed by the House. It would clarify language within the bill to indicate it as a responsibility of the district rather than the parents. For additional information, read School Choice for Small Towns Hits Snag in Senate and Saving School Choice.
To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. The General Court website is experiencing several technical difficulties (the committee’s email is not always working), so consider contact the Representatives directly. Particularly mention if you are a constituent. Emails for each member of the House Education Committee are as follows:
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page, or you can email all of them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those with an asterisk serve on the Senate Education Committee.
Jeff Woodburn — District 1, Dalton
Jeanie Forrester — District 2, Meredith
Jeb Bradley — District 3, Wolfeboro
*David Watters — District 4, Dover
David Pierce — District 5, Lebanon
Sam Cataldo — District 6, Farmington
Andrew Hosmer — District 7, Laconia
Gerald Little — District 8, Weare
Andy Sanborn — District 9, Bedford
*Molly Kelly — District 10, Keene
Gary Daniels — District 11, Milford
*Kevin Avard — District 12, Nashua
Bette Lasky — District 13, Nashua
Sharon Carson — District 14, Londonderry
Dan Feltes — District 15, Concord
David Boutin — District 16, Hooksett/Manchester
*John Reagan — District 17, Deerfield
Donna Soucy — District 18, Manchester
Regina Birdsell — District 19, Hampstead/Windham/Derry
Lou D’Allesandro — District 20, Manchester
Martha Fuller Clark — District 21, Portsmouth
Chuck Morse — District 22, Salem
Russell Prescott — District 23, Kingston
*Nancy Stiles — District 24, Hampton