We are down to the biggest, most important education bills of the year.
We are hearing very encouraging news from the senate on the remaining bills. They are “special ordering” them to next week, Thursday, May 14th in order to gain more support for our positions. This means that we must keep up the pressure — continue all the emails and calls, and make a big presence at the senate session next week. Stick with the overall themes of save our kids, respect parents’ rights, and stop selling out our children’s education and schools to federal dictates.
Of course our opposition will try to capitalize on this additional time, too, so don’t stop now!
The senators usually meet with the other members of their party on Wednesday afternoons, so they should be contacted one more time this week, and early next week. Brief phone calls and emails are very effect, especially if the message is personalized. Contact information for the entire senate is at the end of the article.
Thursday, May 14, 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, which is based on Common Core, on a statewide scale and in all grade levels. This is not less testing; it is significantly more. It is currently being piloted in only four NH districts so there is no evidence of success to justify this massive implementation. The committee amendment 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. If the transition to PACE is unsuccessful, no federal funding will be lost; all districts simply revert back to the existing statewide system with Smarter Balanced Assessments, where informed parents can refuse the tests. For more, read HB 323 Action Alert — Save Our Kids, and Press Conference on HB 323, the NCLB Waiver Bill.
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 in this bill, chartered public schools cost less than traditional public schools. Charter schools introduce market-competition to public education. They offer variety in educational philosophies and approaches, and operate on far less money as compared to traditional public schools. They are an educational alternative for families who are not able to afford private school or homeschooling. The additional funding would enable chartered public schools to accept more students, giving more options to families who want choice. Laws governing charters vary greatly state to state, but in NH, they are all part of the public school system; none are privately owned. Like all public schools, charters follow non-discriminatory enrollment policies. With charters, the money follows the child. Note that charter school do not receive local tax dollars.
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 enter into contracts for federal programs. This bill addresses unconstitutional state downshifting of costs to local districts. This bill affirms Part 1 Article 28-A of the NH Constitution, which prohibits the state from downshifting costs down to school districts. This constitutional provision has been largely ignored by the state. This bill is a reminder to the legislature that it must either find funds to cover all the current federal and state mandates, or eliminate them.
**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 children from assessments without penalty. It would require school districts to provide an alternative educational activity during assessments such as working individually on homework or reading a book. This bill is necessary to refute the NH DOE’s Technical Advisories that districts are using to trample parents’ rights and deny participation refusals for their children’s participation. The state DOE commissioner, Dr. Virginia Barry believes there is no opt-out choice in NH statute, so this is explicitly needed to reinforce Supreme Court of the US rulings that recognize parent’s rights to direct their children’s education. No state or school district has lost federal funding due to lower participation rates. Parents’ rights should not be compromised to chase federal dollars. Only the original version of the bill prevents the public from obtaining parent refusal information under the Right to Know law. 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 email@example.com. Talk to two or three friends about these bills and ask them to do the same! Focus on senators with asterisks.
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