Education Bills Scheduled for Week of January 9, 2017

Welcome to the start of the 2017-2018 biennium! The House Education Committee kicks it off with a full schedule of public hearings. This is the best chance to communicate with committee members and share your opinion on bills. The public may sign the sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill. The public may give written or spoken testimony; it’s helpful to provide copies for each member plus the committee secretary, and indicate that on the sign-in sheet. If you are unable to attend hearings email the committee, or better yet, call them individually and indicate if you are a constituent. Contact information for the committee is at the end of this post. The public has until the executive session to make an impact on how they will vote which is very influential when the entire body votes. Exec sessions may happen at any time without advanced notice, so prompt action is encouraged.

 

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2017: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills

**9:30 a.m. HB 113, relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application
position — OPPOSE
information — This is a repeat of HB 474 (2015) by Reps. Mary Gile and Timothy Horrigan. This bill would allow the state Board of Education to deny the application of chartered public schools solely for budget reasons; the legislature, not the BOE sets the budget and allocation of state funds. This is a blatant attempt to justify the charter school moratorium from a few years ago and deny additional schools; see The State Board of Ed Overreaches Its Authority.

**9:50 a.m. HB 147, relative to the laws governing chartered public schools
position — OPPOSE
information — This is another  recycled bill by Rep. Horrigan, HB 1351 (2016) that overwhelmingly failed in the House Education Committee. Chartered public schools are designed to be centers of innovation and flexibility regarding methods and processes to meet the educational needs of students not sufficiently served in traditional public schools. For example, they can take a focused STEM or fine arts approach — both quite different from the traditional public school model. Even with these differences, charter schools and traditional public schools have much in common. Like other public schools, charters must comply with federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination for enrollment and hiring, meet school building codes including ADA compliance, and follow the same privacy protections. Also, charters must meet all federal and state requirements regarding background checks for employees and volunteers. Teachers at charter schools may enter into collective bargaining units, just as they may at public schools. Finally, charter schools must also administer the same statewide assessment in the years they are required of all public schools. This bill is simply another attempt to put more obstacles and regulations in place to limit charter schools. NH Ed 300 applies to traditional public schools, and Ed 318 applies to chartered public schools. For more information on chartered public schools, read Charter School Truths.

**10:20 a.m. HB 148, relative to chartered public school teacher qualifications
position — OPPOSED
information — This is another returning bill sponsored by Reps. Timothy Horrigan and Mel Myler – HB 1120 (2016). 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 credentialing requirement at all. Teachers are important, but there is more to making a “good teacher” than his or her certifications. Teaching is an art; certification cannot measure the rapport teachers develop with their students or the breadth and depth of knowledge and skill teachers bring to their classrooms. Note that teacher credentials alone are not correlated with student performance. This bill is about employment 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).

**11:00 a.m. HB 103, relative to school district policies regarding objectionable course material
position — SUPPORT
information — The language for this bill has been vetted the last two years; first as HB 332 (2015) that passed the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. Hassan, and as HB 1231 (2016) that passed the House but was tripped up in the Senate. 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. Note that the existing statute does not allow one parent to change the material for the entire class; just their child and at their own expense. For more information, read Parents’ Rights Vetoed by Governor Hassan about the 2015 bill. Also read Urgent – Contact the Senate re HB 1231 and HB 1232 for more information about the 2016 bill.

11:45 a.m. HB 233, relative to the submission of school emergency response plans

1:00 p.m. HB 226, relative to documenting the improvement of non-proficient readers

1:30 p.m. HB 180, requiring postsecondary education institutions to compile and submit reports on remedial education courses

2:00 p.m. HB 210, relative to a code of ethics for certified educational personnel

*2:30 p.m. HB 275, prohibiting the inclusion of statewide assessment results in a student’s transcript without consent
position — SUPPORT
information — This is another repeat bill from last year, HB 1229 (2016), that passed the House, but didn’t get through the Senate. 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. For more information about NH’s statewide assessments and impact on school choice, read Tests and Accountability.

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2017: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills

*1:00 p.m. HB 155-FN, relative to funding for kindergarten programs
position — OPPOSE
information — Kindergarten is not included in compulsory school attendance (RSA 193:1), and is therefore optional to families. Our public school system has many needs, such as catastrophic and building aid, that are not sufficiently addressed and should have a higher priority than funding an optional program. Towns are struggling to meet their school districts’ financial needs and control local taxes. The fiscal note indicates this would increase the Average Daily Membership in Attendance (ADMA) cost by more than $14M starting with 2018. Many communities already offer full-day kindergarten. If this bill passes, it will discourage those that offer half-day programs. Additionally, the benefits of full-day vs half-day Kindergarten program are short-lived at best.

***2:15 p.m. HB 129-FN, repealing the education tax credit
position — OPPOSE
information — Some legislators are relentless in their efforts to keep poor kids from accessing a better educational fit. Every year a handful file a bill to repeal the tax-credit scholarship program that uses private donations to fund scholarships that help disadvantaged families partially fund tuition at the school of their choosing or homeschooling expenses. There is a contingent that claim private donations belong to the state. It is just as absurd to argue that someone’s income belongs to the state before he/she pays taxes. Just as donations to other private organizations like the United Way or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital are charitable donations, so are those made to the Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire and the other scholarship organization operating in our state. This young scholarship program has helped 243 children and awarded $300,000 of scholarships in its first three years of operation. This modest voluntary program is not a threat to the public school system because a contribution cap is built into the existing legislation. The statute also has a feature that protects districts from losing large numbers of students at once. Wealthy families already have choice; this program puts those educational options — funded with private donations — within reach for underprivileged NH children. For more information, read What Do They Have Against Needy Students based on the 2015 repeal attempt.

 

CONTACT LEGISLATORS
To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention if you are a constituent. At the bottom we’ve supplied a list of the committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.

[table id=5 /]

 

ladd.nhhouse@charter.net
terry.wolf@leg.state.nh.us
beshaw3@comcast.net
glenn.cordelli@leg.state.nh.us
bob.elliott@leg.state.nh.us
carolyn.halstead@leg.state.nh.us
Mel.Myler@leg.state.nh.us
patricia.cornell@leg.state.nh.us
jimgreniersullivan7@gmail.com
josh.moore@leg.state.nh.us
Mary.Heath@leg.state.nh.us
David.Doherty@leg.state.nh.us
joe@joepitre.com
patchessul@comcast.net
Wayne.Burton@leg.state.nh.us
linda.tanner@leg.state.nh.us