NEA-New Hampshire President, Megan Tuttle, offered testimony today in favor of swift passage of HB 1607, a bill that would ensure “that there shall be no unlawful discrimination in any public school, private school, approved school tuition program, or educational service that receives public funds.”
Here is the text of her testimony:
Chairman Ladd and Honorable members of the House Education Committee,
My name is Megan Tuttle, I am the President of NEA-NH and I represent more than 17,000 New Hampshire educators. For more than 168 years it has been our mission to advocate for the children and public-school employees of New Hampshire. We are committed to improving student achievement in New Hampshire public schools, providing learning opportunities for teachers and students, and ensuring that all students are ready to succeed. I am here to testify in support of HB 1607, relative to prohibiting unlawful discrimination in public and nonpublic schools.
According to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees all students a right to an adequate public education. Moreover, as the court stated in Claremont II, “No other governmental service plays such a seminal role in developing and maintaining a citizenry capable of furthering the economic, political, and social viability of the State.” We agree and that is why this right guaranteed by our constitution belongs to every child regardless of their background.
If we are going to use the public funds designated to help provide that constitutional right, then those providers and institutions accepting these dollars should not discriminate against a child for any of the reasons laid out in the piece of legislation before you today. We must hold every school to the same standard in this regard, whether public or private.
While the Senate added some language to this effect when it adopted SB 130 last year, the language that was ultimately inserted into HB 2 included what is now RSA 194-F:6 (c), the requirement that Education Service Providers “Comply with all state and federal anti-discrimination laws”. HB 1607 makes it crystal clear that the State Board of Education, our board of directors for education in New Hampshire, must ensure that the protected classes listed in the bill be shielded from discrimination.
We hope and urge this committee will ensure swift passage of HB 1607, so our state makes clear that when we are committing public funds toward our students’ future, their right to an education, that every student has the chance to seize that opportunity.