The 2020 legislative session is underway with multiple public hearings scheduled in the Senate Education and Workforce Development and House Education Committees. We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those will include our analysis and commentary. This year there are several bills regarding chartered public schools, Learn Everywhere, special education, as well as safety and bullying issues; a few have hearings this week. We are tracking these bills and will share important information as hearings are scheduled. For thoroughness, we list additional bills, meetings, and events relevant to education issues that may be of interest.
Legislators’ contact information is at the end.
Please join us for our National School Choice Week celebration on Thursday, January 30th at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester starting at 4:00pm. This child-friendly fun event will feature Christopher Duffley, interactive drumming with Mr. Rich of YouthBeatz, the NH Ballonman, student performances, and will be broadly attended by supporters of providing families with educational opportunities, including charter schools, homeschool families, private schools, online schools, parents, and school and community leaders. Learn about educational options for the 2020-2021 school year! Visit with multiple schools, all in one place all in one evening, and learn about the exciting educational opportunities in NH. Check out this great recap of our 2018 event! Reserve your free tickets here and invite a friend.
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.
Bills retained from the previous session are the first addressed by the chamber in the second year of the biennium.
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.
In the closing several weeks of the legislative session, any bills that were amended by the non-originating chamber must return to the first one for a vote. They may vote to concur (accept), non-concur (kill the bill), or meet in a committee of conference to reconcile the difference between the two versions. If additional changes are recommended by the Committee of Conference, both chambers must again vote on the new version of the bill. The Senate may add non-germane amendments to bills, so it is critical to monitor any changes to pending legislation. The House may make amendments, but is limited to germane issues.
If a bill passes both the House and Senate, it then has administrative reviews to become enrolled before heading to the Governor. If the legislature is not adjourned, the Governor has five days (not including weekends or holidays) to sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. If the Governor vetoes a bill, the bill returns to the originating chamber for the first veto override vote, which needs two-thirds of the membership in attendance to pass. If that is achieved, the bill advances to the second chamber which also needs a two-thirds vote of membership in attendance. If that is achieved, the bill becomes law without the Governor’s signature. If it does not occur, the veto is upheld. If the legislature has adjourned, the Governor has five days to act on the bill. If it goes unsigned, the bill dies; this is referred to a “pocket veto.”
Legislators’ contact information is at the end of this article.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. SB 558, extending the reporting date of the commission to study school funding.
10:15 a.m. SB 557, relative to the advisory council on career and technical education.
10:30 a.m. SB 534, relative to state board of education rulemaking regarding criminal history records checks.
10:45 a.m. SB 553, relative to school employee and school volunteer criminal history record checks.
11:15 a.m. SB 455, prohibiting higher education institutions from discriminating on the basis of military, law enforcement, or veterans status.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. HB 1251, relative to participation in school sports programs for female student-athletes.
11:00 a.m. HB 1549-FN-A, establishing the office of school counseling and psychology, establishing the position of school counselor coordinator, and making an appropriation therefor.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2020: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. HB 1505, relative to compensation of college athletes.
The bill allows families to sue a district or chartered public school for gross negligence or willful misconduct. Increasingly, school safety — whether it is school shootings, traumatizing active shooter drills, chronic bullying, or ineffective discipline policies — prompts families to seek educational options. Children should not fear for their safety to receive an education and families should not have to accept unsafe conditions for lack of alternatives. Read more about this at Educational Options Keep Children Safe.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
This bill creates a study committee to examine the reporting information of chartered public schools. The committee will examine the innovation and unique characteristics of charters as compared to district public schools and the schools’ accountability to follow their mission statements; and determine guidelines for how mission statements are developed and approved.
10:30 a.m. HB 1369, relative to the acceptance of high school course credits from certain schools or education agencies.
This bill requires public high-school principals and administrators to accept credit towards high-school graduation for courses and programs satisfactorily completed at other approved schools including other public district schools, chartered public schools, public academies, and schools in Vermont and Maine that are interstate school districts with ones in New Hampshire. The Lyme school district has agreements with Thetford Academy and St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, and Chatham has a tuition agreement with Fryeburg Academy in Maine. If less than full credit is awarded, the families and students are given written notification.
This bill is an exact duplicate of SB 140 (2019) and seeks to repeal the new Learn Everywhere program before it is implemented. This innovative program empowers public high-school students with expanded personalized-learning opportunities beyond the four walls and time frame of a traditional school education. Learn Everywhere is consistent with local control, not an additional cost to taxpayers, and accredited organizations would work with Local Education Agencies to provide access for those students with learning differences. Read details about the program and the bill at More Attacks on Learn Everywhere.
1:30 p.m. HB 1371, proclaiming March 2 Reading in New Hampshire Day.
All public schools are required to administer the annual statewide assessment, but not all districts distribute the results to families or do so in a timely manner. In a survey we conducted in spring 2019, we found that over 20% of responding parents do not receive their student or district assessment results and over 14% of respondents indicated they need to specifically request the results. Nearly 36% of respondents indicated they receive the spring test results in the fall of the next school year, and another 35% said that the 2018 assessment scores were not distributed by May of 2019, nearly a year after that assessment was administered. Also, just over 35% of respondents said that their districts do not customarily distribute the district or school scores, only those of their own child. This bill seeks to improve the communication of the students’ assessment results to their families. This is a school-choice issue because accountability to families includes the ability to opt-out of the statewide assessments and one of the reasons given to encourage high-participation is that the results indicate how the student, school, and district are performing relative to others in New Hampshire and compared to other states. That argument is less compelling when results are not distributed to families. Further, accountability to families is a fundamental principle to school choice.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2020: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC) at 3:30pm
Department of Education, Londergan Hall, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
This is the regular bi-monthly meeting of the Home Education Advisory Council. The public is welcome to attend. We closely follow the council and regularly report on their meetings. The contact information of HEAC members can be found here. Below is a list of recent articles relative to the council and homeschool issues.
CONTACT INFO for LEGISLATORS
Brief phone calls are most effective; personal stories can be particularly compelling. Mention if you are a constituent. A complete list of the Senate and House Education committee members and their contact information is available here.
The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee list is below.
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The House Education Committee list is below. A list of the committee members’ emails is below the table for an easy copy/paste.
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School Choice for NH is a 501c4 non-profit that believes every child deserves an opportunity for an education that fits his or her unique needs. We inform, engage, and empower families, community leaders, and concerned citizens with educational opportunities that benefit children in our state as well as efforts that may expand or restrict these options. We believe that families should not be limited to their zip codes or socioeconomic status to have their children’s learning needs and goals met. When a child is in a program that “fits” them — everyone wins…the child, the family, and the community.