This is part one of three that will dissect our 2015 legislative efforts. This was a big year for education legislation and we had several wins — some good bills passed and some bad bills were defeated. Below is a list of the most noteworthy wins.
Unquestionably the most significant accomplishment this session was at the grassroots level — more parents and concerned citizens became actively involved. This was a game-changer and cannot be underestimated. It was in clear evidence with the opt-out movement across the state. More than half of Nashua’s juniors and more than 500 Manchester students (as of March 29, 2015) refused participation in the Common Core statewide assessments. We also heard that senators received more than 700 emails regarding one of our critical bills. This active engagement makes all the difference and will provide the momentum needed to build on this year’s work.
Wins — Good Bills Signed into Law
**HB 206, relative to non-academic surveys and questionnaires
This law creates a study committee that will examine the various non-academic surveys and questionnaires that are given to public school students. It will also require districts to create a policy giving parents the option to have their child not participate in these surveys. Chapter 161 section 6 goes into effect August 25, 2015; the rest became effective on June 26, 2015. For more information read Parents’ Rights Upheld for Non-Academic Surveys.
**HB 322, relative to protection of personally identifiable data by the department of education
This law provides greater transparency of the Student Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) or other database the DOE may use. It also is the first to propose a data security plan which adds greater security and accountability to the systems in place and builds on parents’ rights to inspect and amend their student’s records and consent prior to disclosure of personally-identifiable information. This law goes into effect on August 11, 2015. For more information read Parents Must Have an Opt Out of Student Databases.
HB 507, relative to teacher personally identifiable data
This new law expands privacy protections to teachers and other school faculty. It becomes effective August 1, 2015.
HB 520, establishing privacy protections for student online personal information
This law requires privacy protections of the various outside companies that NH schools hire to provide educational services to students. It will go into effect January 1, 2016.
Wins — Bad Bills that Failed
*SB 204, repealing the education tax credit program
This bill sought to repeal the relatively new tax credit scholarship program that provides expanded educational options for students with modest means. This bill was defeated in a Senate roll call vote. For more information read What Do They Have Against Needy Students?
*HB 276, providing that school districts shall not be required to adopt the common core standards
This bill was an inferior version of SB 101 (will be featured in Part 2). Unlike the better bill, HB 276 would have empowered the state Board of Education by granting them power to adopt standards. Currently only the state legislature may adopt standards for an “adequate education.” This bill initially passed the House in a roll call vote, but was “laid on the table” in the Senate, a move that is considered a soft kill. An attempt to resurrect it was made in the House by adding it to another bill that had greater support during the Committee of Conference, but it was defeated. For a comparison of the two bills, read Rep Denigrates Constituents in Executive Session.
*SB 69, establishing a commission to study social impact bond funding for early childhood education for at-risk students
This was a gateway bill towards adding preschool to the current K-12 public education system and chased another failed federal education experiment. For additional information read Noble Goals of Pre-K Programs Fail to Deliver and Good Intentions Are Not Enough.
*HB 474, relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application
This bill would have allowed the state Board of Education to deny the application of chartered public schools solely for budget reasons although the legislature, not the BOE, sets the budget and allocation of state funds. This was a blatant attempt to justify the charter school moratorium from a few years ago and deny additional schools. This bill was defeated in the House.
To see the complete series of 2015 legislation, read
2015 Education Legislation Highlights
Part 1 — 2015 Legislative Wins
Part 2 — 2015 Legislative Losses
Part 3 — 2015 Legislative Mixed Results and Returning Bills