Education Bills Scheduled for Week of February 15, 2016

The following is the legislative schedule for the week of February 15, 2016. The public has until the executive sessions to make an impact on the committees’ recommendations, which is very influential when the entire body votes. Several bills are scheduled for executive sessions this week. Contact information for the House and Senate Education Committees are at the end of this post.

Please note there will be no education legislative activity the week of February 22nd for NH vacation week. Enjoy!


9:00 a.m. Executive session on pending legislation — Although no bills are listed, we believe the following will be considered

***SB 320, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students.
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is the result of the study committee created in HB 206 (2015) that required further research of non-academic surveys and questionnaires administered in our public schools. It recognizes that these surveys often include personal questions and students should not be compelled to participate. We also know that students are being required to share this information in class work when it is not optional or anonymous. The hearing was heavily attended by organizations that financially benefit from students’ private information. While our young people may benefit from the social programs, that does not justify ignoring privacy and parents’ rights to direct their under-aged children’s education. Let the organizations and schools persuade parents regarding the benefits to obtain active consent. There are mechanisms already in place for schools to obtain opt-in permission such as for field trips. For more information, read Non-Academic Surveys and Parents’ Rights.

***SB 503-FN-A, relative to pre-kindergarten education using “pay for success” financing.
position — OPPOSE
information — This is similar to SB 69 (2015), but takes it a major step further. Instead of a study committee like last year, the current bill would create a commission to implement a public preschool program funded through “pay for success” or social impact bonds (SIBs). This new kind of funding for social policy change has not demonstrated success. The first program of this type, a NYC program to help teenage inmates was an official failure. Currently Utah has a “pay for success” early education program in place, but their boasts were determined to be inflated due to poorly defined goals. These “pay for success” experiments are still unproven to justify a launch in New Hampshire. The bill’s fiscal note is for $10M to support a grade level outside compulsory attendance. NH has many other important commitments to our public education system than to support an optional and experimental program. To complicate the proposal even more, the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) admits in a 2012 report that the longest running federal preschool program, Head Start, is a dismal failure. These early childhood programs do not produce long-term gains for our youngest learners. The preschool programs that showed success were exorbitantly expensive and in small studies that do not scale to a statewide program. For more information, read Noble Goals Funded with Public-Private Partnerships — What Could Go Wrong? . Also read Noble Goals of Pre-K Programs Fail to Deliver and Testimony for SB 69 that reference the 2015 bill, but still apply to the current one. For more information on social impact bonds, read Are Governments “Paying for Failure” With Social Impact Bonds” by Governing, August 2015.


9:30 a.m. Executive session on the following bills

**HB 1120, relative to teacher qualifications at charter schools.
position — OPPOSED
information — Current statute requires charter schools to have a minimum of 50% of their teaching staff with teacher credentials. Note that NH private schools have no requirement at all. There is more to making a “good teacher” than his or her certifications. There is an art to being a great teacher and connecting with students. Many teachers at charter schools were certified but have not renewed their credentials. Does this change their skills, experiences, and knowledge that they bring to their students? Teacher credentials alone are not correlated with student performance. This bill is about employment and union protection, not the quality of education or serving students. For more information, read Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: Making the Most of Recent Research, March 2008 and Educational Leadership: Research Says…Good Teachers May Not Fit the Mold, December 2010-January 2011 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

HB 1121, relative to the academic areas that comprise the statewide assessment
HB 1205, including libraries that provide children’s programming in the definition of drug-free school zone

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 1232, relative to visits to schools by non-academic government or private organizations.
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill protects student privacy from non-educational state agencies and private companies who may enter classrooms. This bill would require districts to create a policy informing parents with at least 10 days advance notice and the purpose of the visit. It also provides an opt-out for parents who don’t wish their children to be part of the visit. This supports parental rights and improves privacy protections.

HB 1283, relative to school notification of a change in placement
HB 1300, relative to the content of patriotic exercises in public schools

***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. We already have seen scores adjusted for students who did not take the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment to indicate schools’ scores are not diminished by lower participation. Nothing in this bill changes the requirement for schools to administer the exam and make it available to all students for compliance with federal waiver conditions. The committee was supplied with examples of rewards and punishments that occurred in NH school districts.

HB 1365, requiring public schools to observe New Hampshire constitution day
HB 1393, requiring the department of education to report statewide assessment results for school districts receiving certain state aid

***HB 1456, relative to chartered public school boards.
position — OPPOSE
information — This is another outrageous bill against charter schools. This bill would allow the Governor, with the approval of the Executive Council, to appoint members to the board of trustees of all NH chartered public schools. Not only is this hyper-politicizing public schools, it is a way for the executive branch to remove parents and taxpayers from the governance of their children’s schools. It would be no more appropriate for the Governor to appoint members to the boards of local K-12 public schools.


9:30 a.m. Executive session on the following bills

HB 1137, relative to the adoption of school administrative unit budgets
HB 1145, establishing a committee to study suspensions and expulsions in licensed preschools and in kindergarten through grade 3
HB 1225, permitting high school students who are members of the armed forces to wear their uniforms at graduation

**HB 1231, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material.
position — SUPPORT original and with amendment
information — The bill as introduced is the same as HB 332 from last year that passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the governor. It seeks to address a gap in RSA 186:11 IX-c  by requiring parents be given  two weeks advanced notice and access to classroom materials for subjects pertaining to human sexuality. While this statute can be used for any subject, it does not address the loop hole that parents must first be aware of what material is being used and when. The bill would allow parents to make informed decisions regarding their children’s education. At the public hearing, the prime sponsor introduced a friendly amendment to address the concerns brought up with SB 369 recently with respect to drug and alcohol awareness instruction. For more information, read Parents’ Rights Vetoed by Governor Hassan.

HB 1239, relative to certain terminology in the education statutes.
HB 1366, relative to the definition of educational competencies.

***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. 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 1372, permitting a child with a disability to use audio or video recording devices in the classroom.
position — SUPPORT
information — This supports students who have IEPs requiring adaptive technology.

HB 1379, amending the requirement to use English in schools
HB 1408-FN, relative to a school building inventory

HB 1411, making civics mandatory in public schools.
position — OPPOSE
information — This is another well-meaning, but redundant bill. NH already requires a 1/2 credit of US and NH history and civics for high school graduation (Ed 306, the Minimum Standards for Public School Approval). It is also unlikely this bill would achieve the sponsors’  goals. Textbooks already have a bias that teach the Constitution is a “living document” and contain many critical omissions and factual inaccuracies and these resources would be the ones used in a civics unit. Similarly the redesigned AP US History course has received wide-spread criticism. If parents want their children to have a different exposure to history and civics, then they can use RSA 186:11, IX-c  (in many school districts as Policy IGE) that allow parents to opt out of controversial materials in the classroom at their own expense. There are several excellent and inexpensive or free resources available, including iCivics developed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.


To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to 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:

The following is the Senate Education Committee‘s contact information.
John Reagan, Chairman
(603) 271-4063
Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman
(603) 271-3093
Kevin Avard
(603) 271-4151
Molly Kelly
(603) 271-3207
David Watters