This week the NH House focuses on the budget and a few remaining bills before “cross over” is complete. Each education committee has a bill we are monitoring; see specifics below. We are approximately halfway through this year’s legislative session.
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, such as the budget bills. 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!
We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those include our analysis and commentary. Legislators’ contact information is at the end.
You are also invited to a special presentation by Kerry McDonald, outspoken blogger for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and Intellectual Takeout, policy adviser to the Heartland Institute, and author of the soon-to-be-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 as we expect a sold-out event! Hope to see you there!
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.
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. HB 689-FN-A, establishing a student career and college investment program and making an appropriation therefor.
This is the second year that the House has introduced a bill regarding Manifest Educational Hardship (MEH). It is very important that families have the option to petition their school officials when their children’s assigned schools are not a good fit. Manifest Educational Hardship refers to a documented physical, mental, or emotional condition brought on by the student’s current assigned educational placement and that the condition interferes with the student’s achievement or growth, physical safety, or social and emotional well-being. The condition must be severe, pervasive or persistent to be considered for MEH. We know of many circumstances when there is a poor academic fit – even in otherwise excellent districts – or an on-going bullying problem that challenges the child’s well-being. We raised two concerns with HB 489 as introduced and the House amendment partially addresses one of the two issues. The amendment specifies when superintendents must determine and notify families regarding a decision for an MEH request, but does not set a deadline for the school board should the family appeal to their local officials. The amendment also does not allow a family to petition the state Board of Education if they are dissatisfied with their local school board’s decision as currently permitted in statute. We hope a friendly amendment is introduced to address these concerns.
10:15 a.m. HB 357, relative to the public school infrastructure fund.
10:30 a.m. HB 356, relative to the retention of certain reports by institutions of higher learning
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
1:30 p.m. Continued public hearing on SB 282-FN, relative to suicide prevention education in schools.
2:00 p.m. SB 138, relative to the degree granting authority of Signum University.
2:30 p.m. SB 108, relative to eligibility for the governor’s scholarship program.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. SB 137, relative to the certification of school nurses.
11:00 a.m. SB 263, relative to anti-discrimination protection for students in public schools.
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.
1:30 p.m. SB 276-FN-A, relative to career readiness credentials for high school students.
THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2019: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC) at 3:30pm
Department of Education, Londergan Hall, room 12, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
This is a special meeting of the Home Education Advisory Council to discuss proposed changes to Ed 315 as requested by the Commissioner. The public is welcome to attend. Read more about the council’s work in HEAC Reviews Ed Rule Changes.
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 id=17 /]
The House Education Committee list is below. A list of the committee members’ emails is below the table for an easy copy/paste.
[table id=19 /]