Education Bills Scheduled the Week of May 4, 2015

This is a critical phase of the legislative session. Although every bill has had a public hearing, several still need to be exec’d (voted on by the committee) and have a full chamber vote. This is when the legislators negotiate votes and favors. It is still possible to impact decisions by contacting Senators as they rarely hear from constituents. Brief phone calls are most effective, but succinct emails work, too. Contact information is at the end of this post.

Note that two of the most important education bills will be before the entire NH senate this Thursday — HB 323 and HB 603. Please contact the senators today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Senate Education Committee, room 103 LOB
12:00pm  Executive Session on Pending Legislation

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Senate Session, Senate Chamber at 10:00am

***HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program (as amended by the committee)
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass with Amendment, Vote 4-1
position — NAY on OTP
more information — The new committee amendment removes PACE in name, but keeps the integrated assessments that will continue the over-testing and make it impossible for parents to opt out. The latest US DOE waiver approval, dated 3/5/15, indicates the NH DOE already plans to  implement PACE statewide and in all grade levels. It is currently being piloted in only four NH districts. It keeps the same blank-check power for the state DOE to develop approval criteria and a process for districts to seek permission to use alternative assessments. The feds still have approval authority. All references to “readiness” standards, aka Common Core, remain. This amendment does not recognize parents’ refusal as one of the exceptions for student participation. For more, read HB 323 Action Alert — Save Our Kids,  and Press Conference on HB 323, the NCLB Waiver Bill.

HB 424, relative to the accessibility of assessment materials
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 4-1
position — NAY on ITL
more information — This bill would require schools to inform parents of their rights to inspect their student’s assessments per RSA 193-C:10.

** HB 563-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass, Vote 3-2
position — YEA on OTP
more information — Even with the increased funding, chartered public schools cost less than traditional public schools. The additional funding would enable chartered public schools to accept more students, giving more options to families who want choice. Note that charter school do not receive local tax dollars, only the state per student amount and adequacy funds. This total is less than what the state sends districts for students in traditional public schools, even with the increase proposed in this bill.

HB 578-FN, relative to state board of education compliance with unfunded federal education mandates committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 4-1
position — NAY on ITL
more information — This bill protects districts from unfunded mandates that may result when the state Department of Education or Board of Education accept federal grants or enters into contracts for federal education programs.

**HB 603, relative to student exemption from the statewide assessment
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 3-2
position — NAY on ITL
more information — This bill explicitly reinforces parents’ rights to opt out their child from assessments without penalty. It would require the school district to provide an alternative educational activity during the assessment such as working individually in the library on homework or reading a book. This bill is necessary to refute the NH DOE’s Technical Advisories which districts are using to trample parents’ rights and deny participation refusals for their child’s participation. No state or school district has lost federal funding due to lower participation rates. Parents’ rights should not be compromised to chase federal dollars. See Writing Parent’s Rights into Statute and Parents Can Refuse.

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 senators@leg.state.nh.us.

The following is the Senate Education Committee‘s contact information.
John Reagan, Chairman
john.reagan111@gmail.com
(603)271-4063

Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman
nancy.stiles@leg.state.nh.us
(603)271-3093

Kevin Avard
Kevin.Avard@.leg.state.nh.us
(603)271-4151

Molly Kelly
molly.kelly@leg.state.nh.us
(603)271-3207

David Watters
david.watters@leg.state.nh.us
(603)271-8631

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