June 2024: Letter from NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle

As another school year is ending, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for all your hard work.

I know you all work hard every day to deliver a high-quality education to all your students. But I also know that enduring misguided and wrongheaded attacks on public education and educators while you try to do your job is burdensome and taxing. It is deflating. We all experience that when we see and hear people and groups who have no idea or understanding of the value of public education attack our work, our motives, and our commitment to students. I would understand if you conclude that their view is the majority view. But I’m telling you that it is not.

Poll after poll show that the general public’s opinion of educators is high—often in the top two ranking of most admired professions. That needs to be contrasted with the public’s opinion of the politicians who attack us. They are ranked last or next to last. But you don’t have to look at polls alone. We see it each year when we ask the voters to approve our contracts. We see, year after year, your contracts being ratified by the parents whose children you educate. We see it in our successes in electing pro-public education candidates to our school boards.

Public education opponents may be loud, but they aren’t the majority.

While you re-charge your batteries this summer, take a minute to celebrate our incredible victory this past month when a court threw out the unconstitutional “divisive concepts” law. This win made national news and gave hope to educators here in New Hampshire, as well as across the country. NEA-NH, your union, was at the front of that effort, leading the fight for educational freedom.

You should also celebrate the school funding lawsuit. While the NH Supreme Court will have the final say, a judge agreed that how the state funds public education is unfair and unconstitutional. Our efforts for fair and full funding of our public schools takes place not only in the courtrooms but also the legislature.

This year NEA-NH worked with legislators to file a bill to control the extreme temperatures in school classrooms because we heard from members about how this issue is negatively impacting you and your students. Temperatures ranged from 50 degrees in the winter to 90 degrees in September and June. While this legislation passed the entire Senate, it was not successful in the House. Don’t worry though, we will be bringing it back in the next session. Keep taking those pictures of the temps in your room all year long!

NEA-NH has also been working with lawmakers to address the educator shortage. Working with prime sponsor Senator Donovan Fenton, we supported a bill to establish a rural and underserved educator recruitment program. While the initiative was ultimately stripped of its funding, if it passes a final legislative vote and is signed into law by the governor, it would allow the formation of this critical program that we can work to fund in the next state budget.

Additionally, our union led the fight against two misguided bills that would have allowed untrained, unlicensed part-time teachers in New Hampshire schools. Teachers are professionals. Plain and simple. We go to school or utilize alternative pathways to become licensed and knowing and understanding pedagogy is imperative when teaching. I know of no parents who favor “volunteers” to teach their children. Unlicensed surgeons, accountants, or lawyers certainly would not be allowed to practice in New Hampshire. Through your union’s effort, these bills did not pass.

While we all look forward to a restful and restorative summer, I also look forward to opportunities to connect with you about your priorities to inform the work still ahead. Your union works for you; we are in this together. Please feel free to contact me any time at mtuttle@nhnea.org.

To make your professional life more fulfilling, we will continue to fight misdirected and harmful legislation. We will focus on your issues: mental health support and resources for you and your students and requiring administrators to address disciplinary issues. We will look at the uses and role of cell phones and their appropriate place in schools. We are going to strengthen the pipeline for those going into education by working with high school education programs and the NH Registered Apprenticeship Program. And, yes, as I said before, we will continue to fight to ensure classroom temperatures allow students to learn and educators to instruct.

With all the negatives we faced this year, I want to highlight a positive – YOU! – NEA-NH members. We fight every day for you and for what you do so that you can do your job the best way possible. So, thank you – thank you for being you, thank you for what you do and thank you for not giving up.