Last week was National School Choice Week and we had a blast! New Hampshire hosted two events – a huge rally in Concord with outstanding student performers and 500 guests, and an Intro to Homeschooling session that demystified home education for families considering that option. Thank you for celebrating with us! Check out the video from the rally hosted by the Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire.
You are encouraged to attend the Save Our Scholarships public hearing on HB 632, the bill that intends to repeal the Education Tax Credit program. It will be on Tuesday, February 5th starting at 11:00am in room 202 of the Legislative Office Building. More details about the hearing are available here; more information on HB 632 is in the article below.
The House and Senate are in full swing and the education committees are busy! See below for the full schedule. Several hearings pertain to SAUs, a couple re chartered public schools, one on non-academic surveys, and multiple re education funding. We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those will include our analysis and commentary.
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, JANUARY 29, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:30 a.m. SB 136, relative to classification of students for tuition purposes in the university system.
9:45 a.m. SB 144, requiring the lottery commission to notify the department of education about revenue.
10:00 a.m. SB 107-FN, relative to extended foster care under the child protection act.
10:15 a.m. 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. 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.
10:45 a.m. SB 65, relative to the start of the school year.
11:00 a.m. SB 108, relative to eligibility for the governor’s scholarship program.
This bill seeks to remove private postsecondary institutions from participating in the Governor’s Scholarship Program, limiting the range of schools students can access. 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. There are similar federal financial assistance programs, such as Pell Grants, that can be used at private universities, so the exclusion of private institutions from the Governor’s Scholarship Program is repressive and discriminatory. It unjustly closes opportunities to eligible students.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Executive sessions and public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 181, relative to the house and senate members of the university system board of trustees.
HB 356, relative to the retention of certain reports by institutions of higher learning.
HB 222, relative to criteria for teachers in charter schools.
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).
HB 269, relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application.
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 327-FN-A, making an appropriation to the community college system to continue the math learning communities program in partnership with New Hampshire high schools.
HB 329, relative to review and adoption of school data security plans.
This is a straight-forward bill that requires local school boards to create and adopt a data security plan of some kind that is reviewed and updated annually. It does not prescribe what the plan must entail, but follow best practices so it respects local control. 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.
HB 149, relative to the apportionment of costs in cooperative school districts.
HB 169, requiring school districts to submit an annual report concerning gifted students.
Rooms 210-211, LOB
1:00 p.m. HB 678-FN, relative to state funding of the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education for all New Hampshire students.
1:30 p.m. HB 713-FN-L, relative to education funding.
2:15 p.m. HB 711-FN-L, relative to funding an adequate education.
3:00 p.m. HB 709-FN-A-L, relative to the formula for determining funding for an adequate education.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2019: HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, ROOM 202, LOB
Public hearing for the following bills
10:00 a.m. HB 686-FN-A-L, relative to calculating and funding the interim cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and extending the interest and dividends tax to capital gains.
11:00 a.m. HB 676-FN-A-L, repealing the collection of the state education property tax.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2019: HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 207, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
10:00 a.m. HB 551-FN-A, establishing a school funding commission and making an appropriation therefor.
10:30 a.m. HB 652, relative to suicide prevention.
11:00 a.m. HB 677-FN-A, relative to discipline of students, addressing students’ behavioral needs, and making an appropriation therefor.
11:45 a.m. HB 575, establishing a commission to study establishing a code of ethics for school board members.
1:00 p.m. HB 719-FN-A, establishing the position of school nurse coordinator in the department of education and making an appropriation therefor.
1:30 p.m. HB 689-FN-A, establishing a student career and college investment program and making an appropriation therefor.
2:00 p.m. HB 716-FN-A, relative to transportation costs of certain pupils and making an appropriation therefor.
2:15 p.m. 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.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2019: HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, ROOM 202, LOB
Public hearing for the following bill
11:00 a.m. HB 632-FN, relative to the education tax credit.
The Education Tax Credit (ETC) scholarship program is facing multiple legislative attacks this term, of which HB 632 is one. This program is the only one of its kind to put educational opportunities within reach for low-income students across the Granite State. The scholarship program began in 2013 and to date has helped 877 children; 413 low-income students utilize scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year. Of those students, 16% are children will special needs. The ETC program allows private donations – not state funds – to be given to a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to low-income children. Scholarships may be used for tuition at out-of-district public schools, private school tuition, or approved home education expenses. Donors receive a credit against their business enterprise or profits tax; individuals receive a credit against their income taxes. As defined in statute, the program can only help low-income students, those at or below 300% of the federal poverty limit. The 2018 guideline for a family of four is a maximum annual income of $75,300. These families also qualify for a range of federal assistance programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Of this year’s scholarship children, 62% are at the Free and Reduced income level which is $46,400 annually for a family of four. Poverty is a major contributor to a range of long-term academic problems. According to The Condition of Education (2018) by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), living in poverty has a great impact for the duration of a child’s academic years, from kindergarten through high school. The report says, “…and living in poverty are associated with poor educational outcomes, including low achievement scores, having to repeat a grade, and dropping out of high school.” These private scholarships put educational opportunities within reach for families that they otherwise could not access. Educational opportunities close the academic gap for at-risk students. The average scholarship award is $2,762; it is higher, $4,833.50 for children with special needs. While this small program makes all the difference for struggling students, it does not have a negative financial impact on local or state education funding. In fact, supporting educational opportunities for at-risk children produces positive outcomes for our communities. Forcing these at-risk students back into educational settings that do not fit their individual needs will not only cause long-term harm to their educational outcomes, but will also cost local districts more money as they would now be responsible for integrating over 400 children back into their schools. Per the NH Department of Education, the average cost per pupil is $15,865.26; the cost per pupil with all expenditures is $18,991.10. The ETC is a win-win for students and communities across the Granite State. Diminishing or repealing the tax-credit scholarship would have a devastating effect on our most vulnerable children and local districts.
CONTACT INFO for LEGISLATORS
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 /]
The House Ways and Means Committee contact information is below. A list of the committee members’ emails follows for an easy copy/paste.[table “26” not found /]