This is part two of three that dissects our 2015 legislative efforts. All in all, we had a very successful year, even with some losses. Although several good bills were killed, only one poor bill got through. Below is a list of the most notable losses.
Losses — Bad Bills that Passed
SB 195, encouraging instruction in cursive handwriting and memorization of multiplication tables
The original bill was well-meaning, but an unfunded mandate, against Part 1 Article 28-A of the NH Constitution. As amended, the instruction is “encouraged” but no longer mandatory. Although an improvement, it is inappropriate for the legislature to tell schools and teachers what and how to teach. A Resolution would have been a more appropriate mechanism. This law went into effect July 8, 2015.
Losses — Good Bills that Failed
**HB 603, relative to student exemptions from the statewide assessment
This was a bill that would explicitly give parents the right to refuse their child’s participation in statewide assessments. We are working to override the Governor’s veto; please sign our petition to send an email to all legislators. For additional information read Parents’ Rights Vetoes by Governor Hassan.
**HB 563, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils
The amended version of this bill proposed an increase of only $36 in year one and $1,036 per pupil in year two. Funding would hold rather static in the following years. This modest funding would enable chartered public schools to remain open, providing an important option to families who want alternatives to their zip-code assigned schools. This bill was integrated into the budget bill which was vetoed; however, we expect additional efforts to address charter school funding will be renewed when the legislature returns in September. Read the June 14, 2015 newsletter by the NH Center for Innovative Schools for more information.
* SB 101, prohibiting the state from requiring the implementation of common core standards
This clear and simple bill would have expressly prohibited the state from mandating Common Core standards thereby protecting local control. It also reinforced legislative intent to keep dispositions (values, attitudes, and beliefs) out of NH standards and assessments. Although SB 101 passed the House (in a roll call vote) and Senate, the Governor vetoed this bill.
*HB 332, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material
This bill sought to address a gap in RSA 186:11 IX-c by requiring a two-week advanced notification to parents regarding materials involved in human sexuality unit studies. Both the House and Senate had roll call votes and the Governor vetoed this bill. For more information, read A Parent’s Right to Opt-Out.
HB 424, relative to the accessibility of assessment materials
This bill would have required schools to inform parents of their rights to inspect their students’ assessments per RSA 193-C:10. It was killed in the Senate.
HB 317, relative to contracts between schools and school districts
This bill sought to expand RSA 194:22, to include elementary and middle school students to the provision that allows districts to contract with other public and non-public schools for high school students. It was consistent with current practices around the state where districts contract-out and is directly applicable to the school choice program in Croydon, NH. Given the moratorium on school-building aid and decreasing student populations across the state, this bill offered a prudent fiscal option for many districts. This bill was defeated in the House. For more information about Croydon’s program, read The DOE Wants to End School Choice.
HB 124, relative to the implementation of new college and career readiness standards
This bill required the state Board of Education to hold public hearings in all executive council districts prior to adopting or implementing any new standards, including additional College and Career Readiness Standards (aka Common Core). It was defeated in the Senate.
HB 302, requiring a public hearing prior to the submission of a grant application by the department of education
This bill sought to improve transparency when the DOE applies for grants that impose requirements upon local districts. It was killed in a House roll call vote.
HB 303, relative to statewide assessment standards and relative to parental consent for psychological services to students
This bill was consistent with previous legislative intents to keep dispositional (values, beliefs, and behaviors) questions out of assessments, and would have required parental consent prior to psychological services. Although a compromise amendment was introduced by the minority of the House Education Committee, it failed in a roll call vote. For more details read Maintaining Legislative Intent and Respecting Parental Rights.
HB 578, relative to state board of education compliance with unfunded federal education mandates
This bill protected 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 addressed unconstitutional state downshifting of costs to local districts and affirmed Part 1 Article 28-A of the NH Constitution. This bill passed the House in a roll call vote, but was killed in the Senate.
SB 81, relative to the powers of the state board of education
This bill addressed the state Board of Education’s propensity to exceed its statutory authority. The bill failed in the Senate. For more information read The State Board of Ed Overreaches Its Authority.
SB 82, relative to the authority of the commissioner of the department of education
This bill would have restrained the Department of Education from directly managing districts and respected local control with greater transparency and accountability to taxpayers. The bill was defeated in the Senate.
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