Three school-choice bills will have executive sessions in the House Education Committee in the coming couple weeks. This is a good opportunity to contact these Representatives with your thoughts on these important bills. We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those include our analysis and commentary. Legislators’ contact information is at the end.
With your help, we successfully neutralized eminent threats to the Education Tax Credit (ETC) scholarship program, HB 632 and SB 318. Unfortunately, there remain efforts underway in the legislature to end or weaken the ETC program. We continue to watch for these bills, or something like them, to be tacked on to other legislation. We must remain vigilant over the next few months of the session to protect the ETC program and #SaveOurScholarships. We compiled extensive information about the ETC scholarships regarding the background of NH’s program, how they work, constitutional issues, and media coverage – one-stop reading!
You are also invited to a special presentation by Kerry McDonald, outspoken blogger for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and Intellectual Takeout, policy advisor to the Heartland Institute, and author of the newly-published book titled “Unschooling: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom.” She will talk about educational opportunities at the Nackey Loeb Communications School in Manchester on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019. Tickets are available here and must be pre-purchased; tickets will not be sold at the door. Copies of Kerry’s book are also available for pre-purchase and must be picked up at the event. We are also offering an optional Meet-and-Greet with Kerry prior to her presentation with very limited availability. Reserve your tickets today!
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. Indicate if you are a constituent.
Bills may have an executive session any time after the public hearing. This is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation, and amendments may be introduced. The committee makes one of three recommendations: Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) which is to kill the bill; Ought to Pass (OTP) which is a recommendation to support the bill; or to send it to Interim Study (IS) which is to continue work on the bill. Committee recommendations are 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 body soon after. This is when all members of the House or Senate will vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). When the House and Senate have sessions, we list all the bills we are following, even if they are on the Consent Calendars, because they may be pulled and individually voted on or a floor amendment may be introduced. Contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.
Legislators’ contact information is at the end of this article.
Common Legislative Abbreviations and Terms
TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Continued public hearing for the following bill
9:45 a.m. HB 631, establishing a deaf child’s bill of rights and an advisory council on the education of deaf children.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive sessions on the following bills
SB 263, relative to anti-discrimination protection for students in public schools.
This bill may be amended with elements of HB 383, relative to the prohibition on unlawful discrimination in public and nonpublic schools, that the senate is expected to re-refer to the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee. See below for more information about this bill.
SB 142-L, requiring feminine hygiene products in school restrooms.
SB 137, relative to the certification of school nurses.
SB 267, relative to the release of student assessment information and data.
This bill requires the state Department of Education to provide the statewide assessment organization with students’ names and Unique Pupil Identifiers (UPIs). It gives the testing company vast amounts of our children’s information as the UPI is the key to unlocking all the data. Current law, RSA 189:67, already allows testing entities to access students’ names or UPIs (not both), and birth dates. The UPI is supposed to anonymize student data, to protect identifiable information. Instead, when matched with the student’s name and birth date, everything is accessible. Refusing the statewide assessment, as allowed in RSA 193-C:6, is unlikely to protect students who do not participate in the exam, as the students are included in the data, just noted as non-participants. UPIs follow NH students from the time they enter the public-school system all the way through post-secondary institutions as part of NH’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), also referred to as the NH Longitudinal Data System (NHLDS), for which the state received federal grants exceeding $8M. Homeschool students who attend high-school classes through the local district are included in the database. The intent of the bill is to allow schools and families to more readily track progress of individual students. However, we believe families are already able to do this by maintaining a file of the scores and reports from year to year. Also, the bill as amended and passed by the senate includes a major penalty for violations, which is a significant improvement in the proposed legislation. Learn more about the privacy protections in the current reporting system here in the NH DOE’s FAQ. Read more about the NHLDS here. The NH DOE’s data dictionary is available here to see what information is collected in the state’s various databases. Read more about NH’s database system here.
SB 108, relative to eligibility for the governor’s scholarship program.
THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2019: NH SENATE, Senate Chamber
The NH Senate will vote on the following bill
HB 383, relative to the prohibition on unlawful discrimination in public and nonpublic schools.
Committee recommendation – Re-refer to committee, vote 5 to 0
Recommendation – YEA on Re-Refer
This bill is similar to last year’s HB 1432 and HB 916 (2008), both of which were voted Inexpedient to Legislate. This bill seeks to impose redundant nondiscrimination requirements on private schools that they must already satisfy per federal laws. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and numerous Supreme Court decisions state that no private school may discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. To do so would jeopardize their IRS non-profit status. Private schools must also follow Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity’s requirement re nondiscrimination on the basis of gender for hiring practices, unless the institution is religious-affiliated. There are also protections for students with special needs. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, nonpublic schools must provide “auxiliary aids and services” to children with special needs if they are otherwise qualified for admission or if “minor adjustments” allows the student to participate in the private school’s program. The ADA already is applicable to private schools if they receive public funds. Religious schools are exempt from these ADA laws unless they receive federal dollars. Currently many private schools receive federal funds, particularly Title 1 money. Also, it would set a dangerous precedent for undue regulation of nonpublic schools. This bill is also similar to SB 263 regarding anti-discrimination in public schools which already passed the Senate and is currently in the House.
TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive sessions on the following bills
SB 140, relative to credit for alternative, extended learning, and workbased programs.
SB 196, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students.
This bill is nearly identical to SB 431 (2018) and seeks to reverse the hard-won active consent (opt in) for non-academic surveys, SB 43, passed only two years ago. The bill requires passive consent (opt-out) instead of active consent for all non-academic surveys. Nearly all, including the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the CDC, are tied to government grants and funding based upon participation percentages. In other words, the bill sells students’ rights and private information for additional funding. Active consent as required in current law is consistent with the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and carves out an exception for the Youth Risk Behavior Survey created by the CDC, allowing passive consent. The senate passed the bill with amendment #0313s that requires school districts notify families about the non-academic survey via “email or text in addition to any written notice given via the student.” While this is a helpful addition to the notification procedure, it does not address the fundamental concern. This is a school-choice issue because public school students should not be subject to increased intrusiveness or privacy violations, nor should their families forfeit their rights to direct their children’s education simply because children attend their local district schools. It is also one aspect of accountability to families.
SB 282-FN, relative to suicide prevention education in schools.
SB 141, establishing a committee to study violence against school personnel.
CONTACT INFO for LEGISLATORS
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page.
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.
The lists of education committee members with their contact information are available here. Brief phone calls are most effective; personal stories can be particularly compelling. Mention if you are a constituent.
The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee list is below.[table “17” not found /]
The House Education Committee list is below. A list of the committee members’ emails is below the table for an easy copy/paste.[table “19” not found /]