Another legislative session begins soon, and NEA-NH is ready to promote and defend public education and educators in Concord.
Regardless of what they’re called; vouchers, education savings accounts, or tuition tax credits; these schemes all rob public schools of vital public funding and resources. Taxpayer money from hard working families across the state should not end up in the untraceable bank accounts of private schools.
A child’s opportunity for success should never be left to chance – whether it’s a charter school lottery or a privater school voucher – both are risky propositions with no assurances. What every child needs is a quality, well-equipped school right in their neighborhood where they can learn, be inspired, and thrive.
Instead of taking away funds from our public schools and handing them over to private schools, we should get serious about doing what works, and invest in neighborhood schools. NEA-New Hampshire will continue to work diligently to assure public money goes to public schools.
Funding for Public Education
Take a look at our best neighborhood public schools and here’s what you’ll see: dedicated teachers who are certified to teach the subjects they are assigned; counselors to help students make important life choices; caring and supportive staff who welcome families and the community to the schools; theater classes, girls sports teams funded as well as the boys teams; a chemistry lab; classes that offer college credit; debate teams; robotics classes; foreign languages; music; art; history and civics; healthy meals; clean hallways, and much, more. These are the programs that unlock students’ potential and cultivate a lifelong love of learning, and they do not belong only to the affluent zip codes in our state. They are the right of every public school student. Well-resourced neighborhood public schools that are desirable places to be and to learn, that inspire students’ natural curiosity, imagination and love of learning are what makes America strong by nurturing tomorrow’s inventors, thinkers, artists, and leaders. Again this session, we will strive to assure funding decisions always keep what’s best for our students at their core.
Grades are the Domain of Teachers
Even in Mississippi, there are restrictions on the ability of administrators to change a grade given by a certified, professional educator without that educator’s consent or knowledge. But not in New Hampshire. There have been instances as recent as last year, of school administrators changing final grades given by teachers with no notice given to the teacher. We believe that a teacher’s determination of a student’s grade as a measure of the academic achievement or proficiency of the student should not be altered or changed in any manner by any school official or employee other than the teacher. We are seeking support and sponsors for a bill this session that would curtail this practice in New Hampshire.
The following priorities have sponsors and have had bills submitted:
LSR 2018-2522 – Establishing a Death Benefit for a School Employee Killed in the Line of Duty.
Sponsors: Rep Mary Heath , Sen Lou D’Allesandro, Sen Donna Soucy, Rep Paul Berch, Rep James Grenier, Rep Mel Myler, Rep Patricia Cornell, Sen Dan Feltes, Sen Jay Kahn
Ask educators why they work in schools and most will respond instantly: they believe in children. Education isn’t just a job, it’s our calling. Educators strive to connect with each child, discover their passions, and unlock their potential. They also keep them safe, placing themselves in harm’s way to protect the students in their care, and in some cases have paid the ultimate price in doing so.
Following the murder of Officer Michael Briggs in 2006, the New Hampshire Legislature passed Michael’s Law, which provided a death benefit of $100,000 to the family of any police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty. Like police and firefighters, educators often find themselves on the front line of violent situations, often putting themselves between the assailant and their students. Since 2013, our nation’s schools have averaged nearly one violent criminal situation resulting in death a week. FBI statistics increasingly show education environments among the top two settings for incidences of mass violence. New Hampshire has been fortunate that none of them have happened in our state, and NEA-NH hopes that this benefit is never needed.
Beyond being trained and expected to act in an emergency, New Hampshire educators will instinctively move to protect the children in their care, putting themselves in harm’s way when the need arises. This level of dedication, caring and protection creates the need for this legislation.
LSR 2018-2508 – Relative to the Eligibility of School District Employees for Family and Medical Leave.
Sponsor: Rep Kristina Schultz
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was a major first step in the effort to recognize and support the work of caring for families. FMLA guarantees certain workers unpaid job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, recover from one’s own serious health condition, or to deal with certain obligations (including child care activities) arising from a spouse, parent or child being on, or called to, active duty in the military. The FMLA also provides up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave for workers whose spouse, child, parent or next of kin is a seriously ill or injured member of the armed services. FMLA has helped millions of Americans, but far too many workers in the United States are ineligible for FMLA leave or cannot afford unpaid leave.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked 1250 hours in the preceding 12 months. Due to cutbacks, many Educational Support Professionals have seen their hours rolled back to the point that even if an ESP member worked every hour available to them, they would never reach 1250 hours, and thus never qualify for unpaid leave. NEA-NH has proposed setting the eligibility level for hourly school employees at 900 hours in the previous 12 months. This would allow employees working 25 hours a week access to this important benefit.
LSR 2018-2048 – Relative to the Renomination of Teachers.
Sponsor: Rep Herb Richardson
Under Speaker O’Brien, the Legislature needlessly increased the probationary period for new teachers from three to five years, stripping educators of protections they have for decades and allowing administrators to nonrenew teachers for ANY reason. This year’s bill seeks to return the probationary period to the pre-O’Brien level.
New Hampshire now has the longest probationary period of any state in New England, making New Hampshire a less attractive state to for new teachers. States that deny educators reasonable protections like South Carolina and Texas routinely rank at or near the bottom of student achievement while New Hampshire routinely ranks near the top.
By the time they reach their sixth year in the classroom, teachers have completed at least four years of college, have completed a student teaching practicum, and have passed their Praxis I and II exams. They have participated in ongoing professional development and many have earned master’s degrees. This change was completely unnecessary and passed solely to make it easier for school boards to fire teachers for non-performance issues.
LSR 2018-2357 – Relative to Notification to Parents by Charter Schools When a Child’s Teacher Has Not Met Certification Requirements.
Sponsor: Rep Tim Horrigan
Current law requires that only 50% of teachers at charter schools in New Hampshire be certified or have three years of experience. Additionally, there is no requirement that those teachers that are certified be certified in the subject matter that they teach.
As taxpayer-funded schools, charter schools must operate in a manner that is both transparent and accountable to the families and communities they serve. In previous sessions, NEA-NH has advocated that 100% of teachers be certified in the subject in which they teach. Since the current legislature does not agree, NEA-NH feels that at the very least, parents should be informed when their children are being taught by non-certified teachers.
As bills are assigned numbers and hearings, we will update our Legislative Action and Dashboard pages to provide members and supporters with the latest updates on all the bills we are tracking, as well as offer you an opportunity to Take Action to help support public education in the Granite State.