This is the final segment to cover our 2015 legislative efforts. Only two new laws have mixed results, but there is a long list of bills that will return next year.
**HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program
This was the most important and contentious education bill of the year. It was a high-stakes bill for the state Department of Education with consequences on the statewide assessments and No Child Left Behind waiver. Although the Committee of Conference version is a reasonable compromise that replaces the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the SAT or ACT exams for 11th graders, the rest of the bill may return in 2016 because the entire legislation was not killed. We also expect bills that focus on the experimental integrated assessment program, PACE, to return in multiple forms over the next couple years. The Governor signed this law and it will go into effect September 11, 2015. For details read HB 323 Goes Down to the Wire.
HB 142, relative to student social media policies by educational intuitions
This law was in the works for a few years, and nearly passed in 2014. Although it is a good law overall to ensure privacy rights for K-12 students, it inappropriately imposes policy upon private organizations, a concerning precedent. The Senate added two provisions: one regarding the Right to Know law with tuition contracts and language from SB 69, the bill for social impact funding for at-risk students (see Part 1 — 2015 Legislative Wins). However, in the Committee of Conference, SB 69’s language was removed and is not part of the final bill. Chapter 270 section 2 goes into effect as of September 1, 2015 and the rest on September 19, 2015 without the Governor’s signature. For more information about the underlying bill, read Another Effort to Protect Students’ Social Media Privacy Rights.
Bills Returning in 2016
*HB 536, relative to payment for special education services for chartered public school students and relative to federal funds for chartered public schools
This is a very important for NH’s chartered public schools. It is retained and will return in 2016.
*HB 253, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application
This nasty bill seeks to change the charter school approval process by allocating 25% of total possible points in an application to a single subjective criteria (out of 26), the proposed chartered public school’s mission statement. It is nothing more than an attempt to block chartered schools. This bill was retained by the House Education Committee and will return next year.
HB 301, allowing a parent to elect not to include their child in the unique pupil identification system or other information database maintained by the department of education
This is a good student privacy bill that was retained by the House Education Committee. It, too, will return next year.
HB 555, relative to participation of chartered public school students in school district co-curricular activities
This bill clarifies that charter school students may participate in co-curricular activities of their resident district. Although this bill passed the House, the Senate re-referred it back to the Senate Education Committee. It will return in 2016.
SB 157, establishing a civics education requirement as a condition for high school graduation
Regardless of the subject matter or intent, the legislature should not be involved in telling school districts what should be required for graduation or taught in the schools. The original bill would have made the federal immigration test mandatory for high-school graduation, and would have been an unfunded mandate, against the NH Constitution. It also would have applied to special education students and added regulation for homeschoolers. This bill also opened the possibility for other federal exams and state-mandated tests to become graduation requirements; a dangerous precedent. As amended the bill “encourages” but does not mandate the test. It passed the Senate, but was retained by the House Education Committee. It will return next year. For more information, read Top-Down Education in SB 157 Defies Local Control and Good Intentions and Bad Bills guest published on Granite Grok.
HB 471, relative to the powers of the state board of education
This bill empowers local school districts with more independent decision making and authority. It does not prohibit local districts from entering into cooperative agreements with other districts and allows the state DOE to continue to serve as a repository for information and facilitate coordination among districts. This bill is retained by the House Education Committee and will be back in 2016.
HB 611, requiring legislative approval of all agreements, contracts, grants, or waivers involving the department of education or the state board of education
This good bill would improve transparency and accountability when the DOE applies for grants that then impose requirements upon local districts. It is retained by the House Education Committee and will return next year.
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