The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday, April 20th for HB 1301, a bill that would correct an unfair hurdle for non-public school students seeking employment certificates.
The hearing went very well. A homeschooling mom gave a persuasive personal testimony about her daughter’s frustrating experience trying to get an employment certificate going through their private school Participating Agency. She also brought four pre-teen homeschool students with her, and the committee was appreciative of their presence. Below is a copy of the testimony we presented. No opposition testified. Later that day the committee voted the bill Ought to Pass with Amendment (OTP/A), 4 to 0. The committee amendment, #1511s, makes a small change specifying that youth must provide proof of age and adequate health. This is consistent with other parts of RSA 276-A and does not pose new requirements.
The full senate will vote on HB 1301 on Thursday, April 28 at 10:00am. Please contact your senator asking them to support the committee’s OTP/A recommendation and support the bill. Brief, polite calls are most effective, but emails are helpful. Particularly mention if you are a constituent.
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page, or you can email all of them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Woodburn — District 1, Dalton
Jeanie Forrester — District 2, Meredith
Jeb Bradley — District 3, Wolfeboro
David Watters — District 4, Dover
David Pierce — District 5, Lebanon
Sam Cataldo — District 6, Farmington
Andrew Hosmer — District 7, Laconia
Gerald Little — District 8, Weare
Andy Sanborn — District 9, Bedford
Molly Kelly — District 10, Keene
Gary Daniels — District 11, Milford
Kevin Avard — District 12, Nashua
Bette Lasky — District 13, Nashua
Sharon Carson — District 14, Londonderry
Dan Feltes — District 15, Concord
David Boutin — District 16, Hooksett/Manchester
John Reagan — District 17, Deerfield
Donna Soucy — District 18, Manchester
Regina Birdsell — District 19, Hampstead/Windham/Derry
Lou D’Allesandro — District 20, Manchester
Martha Fuller Clark — District 21, Portsmouth
Chuck Morse — District 22, Salem
Russell Prescott — District 23, Kingston
Nancy Stiles — District 24, Hampton
To: Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee
From: Michelle Levell, representing School Choice for NH and NH Liberty Alliance
Re: HB 1301, relative to the issuance of youth employment certificates.
It is already a challenge for teens to find employment, but NH law puts an unfair hurdle in place for non-public school students. The statute is intended to ensure that students under age 16 would not face academic hardships due to employment and the authorizer, the public school principal or district superintendent, affirms or denies the certificate based on the student’s academic history. The current statute, RSA 276-A:5, presents an arbitrary burden for private school and home educated students who seek employment certificates as it requires authorization by school administrators who are not involved in their education.
HB 1301 puts the authority in the hands of parents, as they know how their children are performing academically and what strain, if any, employment would put on their school work. Parents have access to their children’s academic performance information from the schools and are able to monitor it for signs of difficulties. They are also more likely to notice signs of distress before it appears on a report card. Obviously, if the student is homeschooled, the parents are already responsible for directing the child’s education and have an in-depth familiarity with the academic demands and performance.
Apparently many superintendents find it awkward to be authorizers for students they do not know, so why not put the responsibility in the hands of the adults closest to them, their parents.
It allows parents to provide notarized employment certificates for their children. Parents must provide 48 hours notice to employers and the Department of Labor when certificates are revoked.
Some may argue that the statute provides some kind of safety net if the child is employed in a dangerous job. The assumption is unreasonable. That duty goes far beyond the scope of any superintendent’s responsibilities and is not the function of the authorization in this statute. The role is to oversee any impact the job has on the student’s academic performance; one that a parent may fulfill. Federal and state safety requirements are well established and are intended to protect all workers with consequences to employers who put their employees in jeopardy. That is not changed by this bill and these concerns go far beyond the scope of this legislation.
Opponents to the bill have claimed that parents may force their minor children into jobs and there would be no third-party adult to safeguard students. That speaks to a total distrust of parents and alleges they would put their children, or at least their academics, deliberately in jeopardy.
RSA 276-A:4 already authorizes parents to approve employment for students aged 16 or 17 years old. HB 1301 is a logical extension of existing statute.
Please give HB 1301 an Ought to Pass recommendation. It is a reasonable and common sense change that levels the playing field for all students.