Today, NEA-New Hampshire, the state’s largest association of public employees, sent a follow-up letter seeking further guidance on the implementation of HB2 to the Attorney General and Commissioner of Education as their letter of July 12, 2021, has thus far been unanswered by either office.
The Attorney General, Education Commissioner, and the Commission on Human Rights did release a brief ‘frequently asked questions’ guidance document addressing the implementation of the divisive concepts law contained in HB2. More than 90% of NEA-NH members surveyed recently believe the guidance document fails to answer the questions they have concerning implementation of the new law.
“The limited guidance by the Attorney General and Department of Education is reassuring in that it makes clear the law is very narrow as to what topics educators are prohibited from teaching. However, “because the licenses, careers, professional reputations, and livelihoods of our members are at stake for any violation of the law, we are seeking confirmation of our interpretation of the DOE and DOJ guidance on their behalf and using specific examples which they can apply in their professional work which the broader guidance by the Departments did not do.” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President.
Examples of instruction and discussion NEA-NH believes are permitted by the new law include:
- Teaching historically accurate lessons, provided the educator does not assign racist or prejudicial actions to the historical actors as inherent to them.
- Engaging in conversations about racism or other prejudices students may have exhibited in the past provided the educator does not instruct students that they exhibited those behaviors because of inherent characteristics.
- Introducing students to the concept of implicit bias, discussing the topic, and discussing student experiences with bias, so long as students are not taught that bias is inherent in students due to their status as members of a specific group.
- Assigning students the writings of certain authors provided the educator conveys to students that the book represents the author’s opinion or theory and the educator does not require the student to adopt the theory or opinion.
- Exhibiting and sharing art, music, dance, or other artistic expressions that comment on racism, sexism, or other prejudices provided it is age appropriate and relevant to the curriculum approved by the School Board or higher education institution.
- Referring students for discipline for language, behavior, or writing that might be sexist, racist, or otherwise prejudicial. In fact, in order to comply with requirements of the “Bullying Law” educators are required to recognize and report such conduct.
“Based on the guidance we have received from the Attorney General and Department of Education, we believe the law to be very limited as to which instructions and discussions are prohibited,” said Tuttle. “There’s too much at stake in terms of our students’ education and our members careers to leave any room for doubt as we prepare for the new school year.”