Actions for this Week – Stop Book Bans by the Legislature

HB 514 is proposing to do away with the due process afforded by our courts for K-12 school employees and instead, make a court where politicians like Rep. Glenn Cordelli and Commissioner Edelblut or the State Board of Education will make unilateral determinations using a subjective standard as to what is considered “obscene” material. This is the NH version of an attempt at a book ban. No one is exempt or should be exempt from obscenity laws as proponents of this bill claims.

Instead of supporting parents and teachers working together, this bill is another prosecutorial power grab by the Commissioner of Education in his attempt to stoke a culture war rather than supporting a high-quality public education for our students.

NEA-NH testified against the bill at the hearing. You can read the bill and our testimony here and clicking on the bill link as introduced or our testimony submitted to the committee.

ACTION ITEM: Contact your House members and urge them to vote against this bill by going to our action center page here.

Week in Review

HB 533 Amendment – Subpoena Power for Commissioner Edelblut Retained

This week NEA-NH testified an attempt by the NH Department of Education to gain broad subpoena power in any phase of Code of Conduct investigations. On a 10 – 10 vote that amendment died and the committee retained the bill and will work further over the summer and fall to see if there is some sort of language that the committee can agree on. Thank you to all those members who wrote in against this power grab by the Commissioner.

SB 57 Pro Retirement Bill Passes Senate!

The State Senate voted 23 -1 to pass SB 57 a bill that would delay the 10% reduction you see in your pension when you turn 65 until your full social security age. This would mean thousands of additional dollars over that period of time when you will need to begin covering other costs in your retirement like medical premiums and prescription drug costs. The Senate subsequently tabled the bill after passage, presumably with the intention of putting it into the state budget bill. Thank you to those who wrote in or called you state senator, and we will let you know the next steps for this bill in the second half of the legislative session. This bill was strongly supported by NEA-NH and we will continue to do so in order to make this basic fairness a reality for your pension.

House Narrowly Passes 2 Voucher Expansion Bills

HB 367 and 464 the first 2 School Voucher Expansion Bills heard this year narrowly passed the House this week unfortunately. With high Republican attendance and lower Democratic attendance, the handful of Republicans who crossed over to support public education with Democrats was not enough to overcome that deficit. This will make future sessions even more important as we move into the next session on more massive expansion proposals and the state budget.

Parental Rights Bills Heard

NEA-NH also testified in opposition to both SB 272 and HB 10, so-called parental rights bills and the Senate. You can see our testimony on our Legislative Bill Tracker. SB 272 will already be headed to the Senate Floor next week.

HB 10 is a bill that would set forward a set of broad and vaguely written “rights” for parents within NH K-12 public schools. Many of the rights outlined in the bill exist already, such as the right to opt a student out of certain instruction. Part of the trouble with HB 10 is that it goes beyond those types of rights and appears to imply parental rights to direct not just the education of their own child, but to infringe on the right to an inclusive education for the rest of the children in the classroom. There are also undefined terms such as “medical procedures” that have us concerned as the legislation proposes criminal penalties for school nurses and counselors who violate parts of the bill. The legislation also threatens disciplinary actions up to removal of licensure for any certified personnel and criminal penalties for any person in a school for violating any part of this proposed law. You can read the full text of HB 10 here.

While somewhat more narrowly tailored, SB 272 has some of the same broad language approach to it, that can result in school or school personnel being personally subject to litigation for any violation of the bill by a parent. With many different interpretations about the terms of what this bill can mean, this could be a litigation nightmare not only for the school but for each employee of the school as well. Fostering a welcoming environment for students and the relationship between parents and educators would be set back tremendously with a law such as this. When some organizations are starting culture wars and are aided by politicians who seek to benefit from those, bills such as HB 10 and SB 272 would undoubtedly be weaponized by those politicians and their allies against public education and the hardworking educators who just want to give children a strong education that prepares them for the future. You can read the full text of SB 272 here.

Senate Education Recommends Educator Workforce Support Bills

In a unanimous vote in committee the Senate Education Committee recommended SB 218 to create a mentoring fund for early educators and this bill will head to the floor this week. Also headed to the Senate floor after unanimous recommendation is SB 140 which would fund stipends for student teachers to help support those seeking to enter into the profession.