Two of our important school choice bills have action this week. The first, HB 1744, a bill that empowers families with the ability to refuse their children’s participation in statewide assessments, has a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, April 3rd at 9:30am. Read more below. And SB 193, the Education Savings Account (ESA) bill, has a work session in the House Finance Committee Division II on Wednesday, April 4th at 10:00am. We understand they will introduce another amendment, what is expected to be the final version. It is very important to reach out to the committee and your state resps about these bills as we expect the committees may move very quickly now.
Below is the upcoming schedule for the next couple weeks; we include our analysis and recommendations for priority bills. As a courtesy, we list additional bills, meetings, and events relevant to education issues.
Public hearings are the best opportunity to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For Senate hearings, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. Generally, committee chairmen limit remarks to three minutes or less. Personal stories are most effective. If you are unable to attend hearings, email the committee, or better yet, call members individually and indicate if you are a constituent.
Bills may have an executive session at any time after the public hearing. This is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation; it is very influential when the entire chamber votes. Consequently, prompt action on legislation is highly recommended.
Once bills are exec’d, they are usually scheduled for a vote by the entire chamber soon after. This is when all members of the NH House or Senate will vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). Contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.
Education committee members’ contact information is at the end of the article. For other committees, their group email addresses are in the analysis.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. HB 1598-L, relative to the vote to withdraw from a cooperative school district.
9:10 a.m. HB 1612, relative to data security in schools.
9:20 a.m. HB 1674, relative to computer science and digital skills required for an adequate education.
Position – SUPPORT the bill
Information – This bill has had three rounds before: HB 276 (2017) that died in the Senate, as well as HB 1338 (2016) and HB 603 (2015) that were vetoed by Gov. Hassan. This bill will break the stranglehold on our students and teachers. This bill is in response to increasing demand from parents to refuse their children’s participation in mandatory testing, including the statewide assessments that are aligned with College and Career Readiness Standards (aka Common Core). There are many reasons why parents may wish to have their children not participate in the statewide assessment. Given that these tests have no academic or diagnostic value, many parents believe them to be a waste of valuable instructional time. This bill addresses documented instances of NH students being harassed and punished for non-participation. The bill is consistent with existing NH DOE policies, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and US Supreme Court rulings. Even the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) acknowledges that parents may refuse their children’s participation in statewide assessments. Unions also oppose using them to evaluate teachers. Unfortunately, federal ESSA only recognizes refusals if state law allows them; this bill will do exactly that. Again, accountability should be to parents, not politicians. This bill empowers parents to direct their children’s education within the public-school system. Also diminishing the hyper-testing mechanisms of Common Core will encourage educational options and variety. Read more at End Testing’s Stranglehold and Children are More Than Test Scores. For information about how to refuse your child’s participation in statewide assessments, read Testing Time.
9:40 a.m. HB 1761, relative to the math learning communities program in secondary schools.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearing for the following bill
10:00 a.m. SB 357, relative to safe school zones and relative to syringe service programs.
WEDSDAY, APRIL 4, 2018: SENATE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, STATE HOUSE ROOM 100
Public hearing for the following bill
Position – Support the bills
Information – This is a reasonable and modest expansion of the existing tax-credit education law. It allows individuals to declare donations against their taxes. It also allows businesses and individuals to declare contributions against their tax on interest and dividends.
WEDSDAY, APRIL 4, 2018: HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE DIV II, LOB 210-211
Work session on the following bill
Position – Support the bill
Information — The House Finance Committee will hold another work session on Wednesday, April 4th when they are expected to introduce another amendment. ESAs are the next step in educational options for children across the Granite State. All students, regardless of their zip code and income level, deserve the opportunity for an education that fits their unique needs and goals. Even if 5% of eligible students participate in the ESA program – that is more than double the utilization seen in other states with ESAs – districts will retain roughly 99% of current funding, including all local money and federal grants. This is not a hardship to districts and they are compensated for children they no longer have a responsibility to educate. As a state we have an obligation to fund each child’s education, not one possible provider of that education. We would rather focus on people instead of systems and buildings. Even if the committee severely restricts eligibility, each child’s education and future matters. If the ESA can only help a few hundred children, it is still a big impact on their individual lives and the program can grow in the future. Additional articles about ESAs regarding the financial impact, constitutionality, and effect on NH families are available in ESA Articles.
This is the critical time to encourage the committee to keep eligibility as broad as possible. Supporters can send a note to their state representatives and House Finance members in support of ESAs with this easy email form. If you want to compose your own message, we developed tips and information; resources with links can be found in Contact Legislators re ESAs. Additional articles about ESAs regarding the financial impact, constitutionality, and effect on NH families are available in ESA Articles. Please take a few minutes to email the committee asking them to support SB 193; their email is HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC)
3:30 p.m. Department of Education, Londergan Hall, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
Their schedule and minutes are available here. The original meeting for March 8th is postponed to April 12th. Read about the council’s recent activity at Opportunity for HEAC to Prove Its Value, Slow Progress for HEAC and Educational Neglect Bill, What is HEAC’s Purpose, and Is HEAC Ignoring Rules.
Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention you are a constituent.
To find your Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?” Brief and polite phone calls and emails are effective, especially if you mention you are a constituent. Mass emails are far less effective, but the email for all Reps is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the Senate Education Committee, email or call them directly. Members of senate committees do not have a shared email address.
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To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. At the bottom we’ve supplied a list of the committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.
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Send a note to your state representatives and House Finance members in support of ESAs with this easy email form. If you want to compose your own message, we developed tips and information; resources with links can be found in Contact Legislators re ESAs.
To contact the entire House Finance Committee, you may send one email to HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is the list of the members’ contact information as well as a simplified email list for an easy copy/paste.
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