The following is the legislative schedule for the week of March 21, 2016. This is the final week for “cross over”, when the House and Senate finalize remaining bills that originated in their chambers. Surviving bills are traded to the other body. There are several important bills this week, identified with asterisk marks. Several critical bills were postponed from the March 9th House session to the one this week, so this is the last opportunity to contact Representatives. House and Senate contact information is at the end of this post.
TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016: SENATE EDUCATION, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. HB 1145, establishing a committee to study suspensions and expulsions in licensed preschools and in kindergarten through grade 3.
9:15 a.m. HB 1408-FN, relative to a school building inventory.
9:35 a.m. HB 231, relative to the criteria for evaluating school building aid applications.
10:05 a.m. HB 242, relative to the statewide improvement and assessment program.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
***10:00 a.m. 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.
10:30 a.m. SB 370, establishing a committee to study real time threat notification systems to link school with law enforcement when schools are under direct threat.
11:00 a.m. SB 483-FN, (New Title) establishing a committee to study the necessity of creating a chartered public school program officer position and to study appropriations to chartered public schools for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.
Executive session on pending legislation may be held throughout the day, time permitting, from the time the committee is initially convened.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016: HOUSE SESSION, Rep Hall at 10:00am
full NH House will vote on the following bills
**HB 1120, relative to teacher qualifications at charter schools
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 13-4
position — OPPOSED, yea on ITL
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 1229, prohibiting the inclusion of statewide assessment results in a student’s transcript without consent.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass, 10-8
position — SUPPORT, yea on OTP
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 1231, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, 13-6
position — SUPPORT, yea on OTP/A
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 about the 2015 bill.
HB 1274, establishing a committee to study the efficacy of changes in the community college system of New Hampshire.
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 12-9
HB 1300, relative to the content of patriotic exercises in public schools.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment
***HB 1338, relative to student exemption from the statewide assessment.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass, 10-9
position — SUPPORT, yea on OTP
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.
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 17-2
***HB 1371, establishing a committee to study education savings accounts for families of special needs students.
committee recommendation — Refer to Interim Study, 21-0
position — SUPPORT, yea on Refer to Interim Study
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 1393, requiring the department of education to report statewide assessment results for school districts receiving certain state aid.
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 11-10
*HB 1414, repealing the home education advisory council.
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 19-1
position — SUPPORT with amendment, nay on ITL
information — Although the original purpose and function of HEAC was needed in 1990 when homeschooling was first recognized in NH, their utility has greatly diminished as home education laws have changed and support structure has developed. Unfortunately, HEAC has poor transparency and accountability to the community they are supposed to represent. In fact, the public is not allowed to speak at their meetings unless given special permission to do so. There are also concerns that HEAC no longer represents the broad and diverse homeschool community of today. Fortunately there are significant resources available to homeschoolers that are able to help when difficulties and misunderstandings arise before they get to a high-level problem. A friendly amendment was introduced that will eliminate the Board of Education’s rule-making authority. For detailed information, including the history and background of other recent deregulation efforts, read The Past and Future of NH Homeschooling and HB 1414 Testimony.
HB 1484, relative to the election of members of the state board of education.
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, 13-6
HB 1497, relative to the limits on disclosure of information used on college entrance exams.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass, 19-0
position — SUPPORT, yea on OTP
***HB 1637-FN, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, 12-9
position — SUPPORT, 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. For additional information, read HB 1637 — School Choice for Small Towns and Guarantee of an Adequate Education. For more information regarding Croydon’s program, read NH DOE Fails to Get Injunction Against Croydon and Response to the NH DOE and Attorney General.
THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2016: SENATE SESSION, Senate Chamber at 10:00am
full NH Senate will vote on the following bill
***SB 503-FN-A, relative to pre-kindergarten education using “pay for success” financing.
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, 4-2
position — OPPOSE, nay on OTP/A (#2016-0561s and #2016-1060s)
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. The Senate Education Committee’s amendment, #2016-0561s, is negligible, reducing the number of senators serving on the commission from three to one who is appointed by the president of the senate. The Senate Finance Committee’s amendment, 2016-1060s, strikes from the bill as introduced the commissioner’s power to borrow funds upon the credit of the state which is proposed in section 2, paragraph II.
MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2016: SENATE EDUCATION, ROOM 207, LOB
Regular meeting for the following study commission
9:00 a.m. Commission to study issues relating to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school (RSA 186-C:30).
information — This commission is the result of HB 126 (2015). Here is the link to follow this study committee. It may impact HB 536 which has a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee the following day. This commission will meet again on April 4, April 11, and April 18.
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 Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?” Brief and polite phone calls and emails are effective, especially if you mention you are a constituent. Mass emails are far less effective, but the email for all Reps is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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