It’s another busy week for school choice! There are more public hearings, subcommittee meetings, executive sessions, and votes by the entire NH House and Senate chambers. See below for the full schedule. Several sessions pertain to chartered public schools, multiple re education funding, and a vote regarding non-academic surveys. We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those will include our analysis and commentary.
Last week the House Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing on the Education Tax Credit (ETC) repeal bill, HB 632. It was a packed room and many people were unable to testify in the time allocated for the hearing. Chairman Susan Almy will reconvene in early March; we will be sure to let everyone know as soon as it is announced. In the meantime, it is still appropriate to contact the committee. Calls are best, but emails are helpful. We have a tool that sends emails to the committee as well as your own state representatives; the message can be customized for additional impact. We also have a page about the ETC scholarships that compiles relevant information on the background of NH’s program, how they work, constitutional issues, and media coverage – one-stop reading!
We are closely following HB 711, a bill that has a provision that would cut state funding for chartered public schools in half, likely forcing them to close. It is in one of the many bills regarding adequacy funding. It is important to not only monitor what happens to this particular bill, but all the others as well, because any of them can be amended. In other words, even if the House votes Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) to kill HB 711, similar provisions could be included in any of the other adequacy funding bills. With roughly two dozen funding bills, this will require very diligent monitoring. The House Education Committee has another subcommittee work session scheduled this week on this bill and others re adequacy funding. Read more about HB 711 in Attack on Chartered Public Schools.
Legislators’ contact information is at the end.
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). 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, FEBRUARY 12, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. SB 247-FN-A, establishing a sunny day fund in the department of business and economic affairs.
9:35 a.m. SB 277-FN-L, relative to grants to chartered public schools.
9:55 a.m. SB 266-FN, relative to funding for kindergarten pupils, keno revenues, and school building aid.
10:15 a.m. SB 278-FN-A, establishing the education administration efficiency fund and making an appropriation therefor.
10:45 a.m. SB 140, relative to the rulemaking authority of the state board of education.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearing and executive sessions for the following bills
10:00 a.m. HB 689-FN-A, establishing a student career and college investment program and making an appropriation therefor.
10:30 a.m. Executive sessions on the following bills
HB 544, relative to the governance of the Manchester school district.
HB 545, prohibiting law enforcement officers from questioning a minor at school without a parent or guardian present.
HB 569-FN-L, relative to innovation schools.
HB 569 proposes a way of allowing more flexible use of resources among public schools within a single district or across districts. It allows schools that share common interests or serve similar cohorts of students to work cooperatively in such areas as school staffing, curriculum and assessment, class scheduling, use of financial and other resources, and faculty recruitment, employment, evaluation, and compensation. It may be used to enhance services in special education, gifted and talented resources, programs for students participating in English Language Learners, services for at-risk students, and more. This is a creative idea to enable local district schools to adapt to their communities’ needs and be responsive to budget constraints and declining student enrollment. This bill suggests a way for public schools to have more opportunities to be flexible and innovative to meet these challenges.
HB 570, establishing a commission to study career pathways from full-time service year programs to postsecondary education and employment opportunities in support of New Hampshire’s future workforce needs.
HB 575, establishing a commission to study establishing a code of ethics for school board members.
HB 652, relative to suicide prevention.
HB 673-FN-A, relative to the governor’s scholarship program to cover the costs of the college level examination program and making an appropriation therefor.
This bill expands the existing Governor’s Scholarship Program to include College Level Examination Program (CLEP) classes and exams. The Governor’s Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to current high-school students or recent graduates to attend post-secondary schools or technical training programs within NH. CLEP tests college-level knowledge in three dozen subjects for students to earn college credit. This bill expands educational opportunities to more students for their post-secondary goals.
HB 716-FN-A, relative to transportation costs of certain pupils and making an appropriation therefor.
HB 719-FN-A, establishing the position of school nurse coordinator in the department of education and making an appropriation therefor.
HB 721-FN-L, relative to special education in towns with no public schools.
This is redundant with RSA 189:49 that already authorizes school boards to provide nonpublic schools the following special education services: health and welfare services including speech correction and remedial and diagnostic services; programs for the deaf, blind, emotionally disturbed, children with disabilities; and programs for the improvement of the educational studies of pupils with disabilities. Also, RSA 193:3, commonly referred to as the Manifest Educational Hardship statute, is frequently used by districts to place children with special needs in nonpublic schools, if appropriate for their learning needs. When these students are reassigned by their home district, the special education funds or services follow the child to the new school assignment. This already exists in the statute this bill seeks to alter. There are also existing federal 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.
HB 723-FN, relative to requiring a criminal history records check for applicants for teaching certification.
HB 733-FN, relative to emergency kits in classrooms.
HB 677-FN-A, relative to discipline of students, addressing students’ behavioral needs, and making an appropriation therefor.
HB 689-FN-A, establishing a student career and college investment program and making an appropriation therefor.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Public hearings for the following bills, LOB room 210-211
9:00 a.m. HB 101, relative to regulating possession of firearms in a school district.
10:00 a.m. HB 564, relative to possession of firearms in safe school zones.
1:00 p.m. Subcommittee work session on the following bills, LOB room 207
HB 678-FN, relative to state funding of the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education for all New Hampshire students.
HB 713-FN-L, relative to education funding.
HB 711-FN-L, relative to funding an adequate education.
A provision in this bill would cut state funding for chartered public schools in half, to only the per student state adequacy funding level. Charter schools already operate on one-third the total funding that other public schools receive. This bill, if enacted, would likely close our charter schools, forcing nearly 4,000 chartered public-school students back into their local public schools, environments that are not the best fit for them, and at a higher cost to taxpayers. Read more in Attack on Chartered Public Schools.
HB 709-FN-A-L, relative to the formula for determining funding for an adequate education.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2019: NH SENATE, Senate Chamber at 10:00am
The NH Senate will vote on the following bill
SB 196, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students.
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 4 to 1
Position – NAY on OTP/A
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 committee supports an 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.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2019: NH HOUSE, Rep Hall at 10:00am
The NH House will vote on the following bills
HB 269, relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application.
Committee recommendation – Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 20 to 0
Position – YEA on ITL
This is another repeat bill hostile to charter schools. It first was introduced as HB 474 (2015) by Reps. Mary Gile and Timothy Horrigan and again as HB 113 (2017) with the same sponsors. This time around, Rep. Timothy Horrigan is the sole sponsor. This bill would allow the state Board of Education to deny the application of chartered public schools solely for budget reasons; the legislature, not the BOE sets the budget and allocation of state funds. This is a blatant attempt to justify the charter school moratorium from a few years ago and deny additional schools; see The State Board of Ed Overreaches Its Authority. All chartered public schools go through a rigorous process and review by the state Board of Education.
HB 329, relative to review and adoption of school data security plans.
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 20 to 0
Position – YEA on OTP/A
The entire bill is replaced with amendment #0017h which changes RSA 91-A, the Right to Know statute, with the ability to exempt sensitive IT systems, security plans, vulnerability testing, and other materials from disclosure. It impacts all public boards and agencies, not just the Department of Education and local school boards. While this is an appropriate addition to the RTK exemption list, the amendment does not address concerns regarding student and faculty information on school district IT systems as done in the original bill. This is important as there are significant security risks for student and faculty information and school districts maintain vast amounts of data. Districts also keep medical records on students which are not protected by HIPAA. Student privacy is a relevant school choice issue because increasingly educational options are driven by technology. Managing this information while respecting privacy issues is part of the challenge as more learning occurs across platforms, utilizing a mix of public, charter, online, private, and home education approaches. Technology-driven education also makes more educational opportunities available for students in low-income households and rural communities. Hopefully these concerns will be addressed in another bill.
HB 222, relative to criteria for teachers in charter schools.
Committee recommendation – Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 15 to 5
Position – YEA on ITL
This is another returning bill against charter schools with Rep. Timothy Horrigan as prime sponsor. The first time around it was HB 1120 (2016) and again appeared as HB 148 (2017). Current statute requires charter schools to have a minimum of 50% of their teaching staff with teacher credentials; HB 222 would require 75% hold teacher licenses. Note that NH private schools have no credentialing requirement at all. Teachers are important, but there is more to making a “good teacher” than his or her certifications. Teaching is an art; certification cannot measure the rapport teachers develop with their students or the breadth and depth of knowledge and skill teachers bring to their classrooms. Note that teacher credentials alone are not correlated with student performance. Read Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: Making the Most of Recent Research, March 2008 and Educational Leadership: Research Says…Good Teachers May Not Fit the Mold, December 2010-January 2011 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. SB 276-FN-A, relative to career readiness credentials for high school students.
9:45 a.m. SB 281-FN-A-L, relative to mental health services for schools and making an appropriation therefor.
10:00 a.m. SB 302-FN, relative to suspension and expulsion of pupils.
10:30 a.m. SB 253-FN, relative to statewide deployment of a real-time threat notification system for schools.
11:00 a.m. SB 280-FN-L, relative to the cost of an adequate education.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
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 /]