Congresswoman Annie Kuster Unveils Women’s Economic Agenda

Annie Kuster Women economic agenda

During roundtable discussion, Rep. Kuster was joined by New Hampshire women business leaders, female students, and other women who shared their stories and called for Congress to prioritize Kuster initiatives to improve the economic security of Granite State women

Annie Kuster Women economic agenda

(Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | Congresswoman Annie Kuster joins with Granite State women to unveil her Women’s Economic Agenda)

NASHUA, N.H. – On the heels of Equal Pay day, this morning Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) unveiled her new “Women’s Economic Agenda,” a plan for Congress to help level the playing field for New Hampshire women. A diverse group of female business owners and other women joined Kuster in unveiling her plan. These women shared their personal stories with Kuster, and underscored the need for leadership in Congress on issues that affect their ability to succeed in this economy. This morning’s event kicked off a series of roundtable discussions Kuster will hold to hear from women throughout the Second District during the next two weeks.

“It is astonishing that even in the 21st Century, women continue to make only 77 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts’ salary. We must prioritize initiatives that will help eliminate the wage gap between genders and encourage women to pursue successful careers during these challenging economic times,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Today, I unveiled my new Women’s Economic Agenda, which outlines a list of initiatives that Congress must pursue in order to level the playing field for Granite State women and support their full economic success.”

Kuster’s new Economic Agenda includes initiatives to address the wage gap between genders, the importance of a fair minimum wage, tax relief for working families, efforts to better support women entrepreneurs, the urgent need to invest in the education of our children from early-childhood through college, the need for women’s comprehensive reproductive health care, and the importance of job training and workforce development, among other issues. Participants in this morning’s event included local women who shared their personal stories and representatives from a variety of New Hampshire organizations who support efforts to bolster women’s economic success.

“I was so grateful to hear from the Granite State women who shared their own personal stories with me today. Their stories demonstrate the extreme need for Congress to prioritize the initiatives I outlined in my Women’s Economic Agenda, and it is on behalf of them that I will continue to fight for things like equal pay, access to childcare, more contracting opportunities for women business owners, and so many other issues that are crucial to the success of our women professionals.”

“Fair pay, access to childcare, workforce development, small business ownership and job training programs affect not only the success of women, but of every Granite State family. These are issues that we all must embrace in order to support the economic development of our great state. I’m so appreciative that Congresswoman Kuster is taking the time to fight for the issues that matter most to our women and our families back in Washington,” said MaryAnn Manoogian, Director of the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University.

As a member of the United States’ first all-female Congressional delegation, Kuster has worked to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for Granite State women since taking office. She is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase the effectiveness of remedies available to victims of pay discrimination on the basis of gender, and she has successfully pushed the President to issue executive orders to support fair pay for federally contracted employees.  Kuster has also hosted a series of roundtable discussions with women business leaders from New Hampshire to hear directly from them about what she can do on the federal level to help New Hampshire women succeed in the workplace. These roundtables helped inform the crafting of her Women’s Economic Agenda. During the two-week April work period, Kuster will hold discussions with New Hampshire women from a variety of fields throughout the Second District, and she is committed to fighting for their best interests in Congress.

4-14-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Supreme Court On School Vouchers, NHRS, and more

AFT NH Legislative Update

EDUCATION TAX CREDITS –VOUCHER PROGRAM

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 16th in the voucher tax credit case. AFT-New Hampshire is asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court decision overturning the Education Tax Credit Program that provides money to students attending religious schools:

“The New Hampshire Constitution prohibits public funds to religious institutions. The tax-credit law was really a subterfuge, a voucher-like effort in which public dollars eventually would find their way to private schools, most of which,in New Hampshire,are religious schools. Further, there is evidence from all over the country that these voucher-like programs don’t actually help children. If the Legislature genuinely is interested in helping, it should work with teachers on ensuring that public schools have the programs and services needed to help all students succeed, not just some.”

Click here to read brief: http://nh.aft.org/files/voucherbrief.pdf

THE FOLLOWING BILLS WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL SENATE THIS COMING WEEK

HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain circumstances.  AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring. Senator Watters states:

“This legislation allows the retirement system to make payments of $15,000 or less to the next of kin of deceased member of a beneficiary when no probate proceedings are pending. This legislation was requested by the NH Retirement System.”

HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school. The committee recommended Ought to Pass, Vote 5-0.  AFT-NH is asking that Senators not support the Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee recommended Ought To Pass but instead, support a recommendation of Inexpedient To Legislate. There has been no past problem for any student wishing to attend a charter school. Furthermore, the unintended consequence could negatively impact the public school by depleting a grade level of attendance or curriculum options.

HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.The committee made the recommendation of Ought to Pass. AFT-NH supports the committee’s recommendation. We believe that this bill will help protect the privacy of students in New Hampshire.

THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING ON THE FOLLOWING

HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. This bill updates our current juvenile justice system by:

  • Raising the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system from 17 years to 18 years,
  • Improving procedures to determine competency of youth,
  • Clarifying a youth’s right to and waiver of legal counsel,
  • Determining the qualifications for legal counsel to defend youth,
  • Defining data to assess the effectiveness of current interventions and proposed changes.

To read more on this bill click here.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

9:30 a.m. NH Supreme Court Oral Argument –voucher case

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 396, relative to child restraint practices.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.

10:30 a.m. Rescheduled SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a
child’s individualized education program.
1:15 p.m. Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accountability and
Assessment.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m.  Regular meeting of Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Retirement.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study pathways to oral health
care in New Hampshire.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and
recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

10:00 a.m. House in session

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:00 p.m. or 1 hour following House session:  Executive session on SB 395-FN, relative to the
retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study
pathways to oral health care in New Hampshire.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
1:15 p.m. Full committee work session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table
gaming.

12:30 p.m. Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility, 62 North Main Street. Walk south on North Main. Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and
expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House:
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of
Education on HB 435

THURSDAY, APRIL 24

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Rooms 201-203, LOB
1:00 p.m. SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United
States Constitution.

THURSDAY , MAY 1

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United
amendments to the United States Constitution.

Senator Shaheen Meets With National Education Advocates From NH On Capitol Hill

Senator Shaheen and Early Learning N.H. Executive Director Jackie Cowell
Senator Shaheen and Early Learning N.H. Executive Director Jackie Cowell

Senator Shaheen and Early Learning N.H. Executive Director Jackie Cowell

At roundtable discussion, Shaheen stresses importance of investments in early childhood education

(Washington, DC) ­–U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) participated in a roundtable discussion today on Capitol Hill with New Hampshire and national education advocates and experts to address policy issues and priorities on early childhood education. Shaheen hosted Early Learning New Hampshire Executive Director Jackie Cowell at a Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee discussion, which focused on expanding access to high-quality early-learning opportunities and coincided with Week of the Young Child.

“There is no more important or effective investment in our future and our children than education, particularly in their early years,” Shaheen said. “We should all work together to make sure all children in New Hampshire and around the country have accessible, quality early childhood education that will help them form a solid foundation for their life and become productive members of society.”

Many economists note that for every dollar invested in quality early childhood education, up to $17 is realized in return in the form of economic impact.

Throughout her career, Shaheen has made it a priority to expand opportunities for young children. As Governor, she expanded public kindergarten for tens of thousands of New Hampshire children. To increase awareness about the importance of early learning, she also launched a comprehensive statewide campaign that brought the business community to the table for the first time to create the Business Partners for Early Learning. The program fostered business involvement at the state, regional, and local levels in strategies to improve the quality, accessibility, and affordability of early care and education.

Since arriving in the Senate, Shaheen has also supported efforts to bolster Head Start programs, which promote school readiness among America’s low-income children, and other investments in early childhood education to help working families. Recently, Shaheen supported legislation in the Senate to reauthorize, reform and revitalize the child care and development block grant program (CCDBG) to assist working families with the cost of child care and promote the healthy development of children and middle-class families.

Governor Hassan Creates STEM Education Task Force

Maggie Hassan

Issues Executive Order Bringing Together Diverse Stakeholders to Help Modernize STEM Education 

CONCORD – Continuing her efforts to help students develop the skills and critical thinking needed for success in the innovation economy, Governor Maggie Hassan issued an Executive Order today creating the Governor’s Task Force on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education.

The Task Force brings together a diverse group of stakeholders from the education and business communities to make recommendations for modernizing STEM education in New Hampshire’s schools.

“To help young people develop the skills and innovative thinking needed for jobs that growing businesses are creating here in New Hampshire, we need to come together as a state to ask tough questions about how we can best educate our young people, especially in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” Governor Hassan said. “The members of this Task Force have a diverse background in teaching, school administration, higher education and business, including job creators and innovators in research and development. Their service will help our schools modernize STEM education, providing our young people with skills that our businesses believe in, our educators believe in, and our students and families believe in.”

The Governor’s Task Force includes members with relevant experience in STEM education in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Community College System of New Hampshire, the University System of New Hampshire, and New Hampshire’s private colleges and universities, as well as representatives from New Hampshire’s innovative businesses and a parent of three children who attend New Hampshire public schools.

The Task Force will be chaired by Dr. Ross Gittell, Chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire who is also the co-founder and co-director of the Green Launching Pad, an innovative business incubator that connects entrepreneurs and private industry with technical, scientific and business faculty and students throughout the state.

“For students to succeed, we must work together to strengthen education in the STEM fields,” Dr. Gittell said. “I applaud Governor Hassan for creating this Task Force, and I look forward to working with her and my fellow members to help modernize STEM education in our schools.”

Members will make recommendations to ensure that New Hampshire’s kindergarten through 12th grade STEM education is rigorous and extensive enough to prepare students to compete globally in today’s technology-driven society; examine New Hampshire’s existing science standards and science education practices and consider best science and education practices nationwide; examine New Hampshire’s existing math standards and requirements and consider whether mathematics requirements for high school graduation should be increased; examine current engineering and technology offerings and make recommendations for how to better integrate engineering and technology into existing school activities, how to provide academic pathways for students considering STEM careers and how to interest more students in STEM fields; consider whether improvements to other areas of the curricula, such as arts education, could improve students’ overall success; and identify barriers to implementing more rigorous STEM standards.

Other members are:

 

  • Dr. Brian Blake, Superintendent of Sanborn Regional School District and President-Elect of the New Hampshire Superintendents Association, representing the New Hampshire School Administrators Association;
  • Barbara Couch, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Hypertherm Inc. and a member of the state’s Advanced Manufacturing Education Advisory Council, representing New Hampshire’s business community;
  • Joyce Craig, Manchester Alderman and mother of three children who attend Manchester public schools;
  • Susan D’Agostino, math professor at Southern New Hampshire University, representing New Hampshire’s private colleges and universities;
  • Greg Hallowell, member of the Nashua Board of Education and scientific researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory;
  • Mary Kate Hartwell, District Curriculum Coordinator for Raymond Schools, representing the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association;
  • Joseph J. Helble, Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and a Professor of Engineering, representing New Hampshire’s private colleges and universities;
  • Caroline Herold, Middle Level Teacher at Lurgio Middle School in Bedford, representing the New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics;
  • Jeremy Hitchock, CEO & Chairman of Dyn, representing New Hampshire’s business community;
  • Dean Kamen, New Hampshire entrepreneur, President of DEKA Research & Development and Founder of FIRST, representing New Hampshire’s business community;
  • Todd Lamarque, Principal at Lancaster Elementary School and former chair of the science department at Gorham Middle High School, representing the New Hampshire Association of School Principals;
  • Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, designee of Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry;
  • Dr. Palligarnai Vasudevan, Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Interim Senior Vice Provost at UNH, representing the University System of New Hampshire.

 

The New Hampshire Department of Education will provide administrative support to the task force and will soon be announcing the first meeting.

The full text of the Governor’s Executive Order is attached.

 

4-7-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Retirement System Bills, Charter Schools, and Special Education

AFT NH Legislative Update

The following bills were acted upon in the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee this past week:

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1152: This amended bill repeals the optional benefit program available to eligible call, substitute, or volunteer firefighters through the retirement system, and provides for the refund of remaining funds after the completion of payments to the two remaining beneficiaries. AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring. This bill transfers to a subtrust the assets required to fund this benefit. All individuals who are entitled to benefits will continue to receive them in full.

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1398: This bill allows the retirement system to make a payment of $15,000 or less to the next of kin of a deceased member when no probate proceedings are pending. Like the bill above AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1617: This amended bill grants NHRS electronic access to a limited data set of death, marriage, and divorce information of members and beneficiaries held by the Division of Vital Records Administration for purposes of administering RSA 100-A.  Again, AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

The House Finance Committee is still working on SB 339: This amended bill authorizes the NH  Department of Administrative Services to contract for a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability. The committee will be meeting again April 10th at 1:40 p.m. in room.

This bill allows the Department of Administrative Services to contract with a credit card issuer to establish a credit card affinity program in which the fees received by the state are dedicated to reducing the retirement system’s unfunded liability. This is a “feel good” bill, that will have little impact on the unfunded liability.

The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee will be hearing testimony on:HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees.  AFT-NH was originally opposed to this bill as it was a policy overreach by the NHRS, but Rep. Goley’s amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

The Senate Health, Education and Human Services committee will be hearing testimony on the following:

HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application.  What we need are laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voice in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools. AFT-NH believes that this bill is a small step in increasing transparency in Charter Schools.

HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school.  The duties of this committee include studying issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered school, including responsibility for funding and provision of special education services, and any other issue deemed relevant by the committee.

Around 2011-2012 the state passed a bill which mandated that local districts must pay for support services for special education students enrolled in Charter schools. This means that a district must send someone to the charter school, contract out the service, or pay the Charter school to provide the services. All of which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

AFT-NH supports this bill.  We need to have a clear picture on what it is costing districts to educate special education students enrolled in a Charter school in or out of their home district. Because this is a mandate from the State we also need to have the discussion on who should be paying for these services.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 378, relative to identification information contained in political advertising.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on:
SB 376, requiring pooled risk management governing board members to comply with financial disclosure requirements,
SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.  Please note Rooms 305-307, LOB.
3:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307:  Showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9

Senate Executive Departments And Administration, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1447, prohibiting discrimination in educational standards for certain students.
9:20 a.m. HB 533, relative to the mathematics requirement for high school graduation.
9:40 a.m. HB 1141, requiring chartered public schools to share enrollment information with school districts.

10:00 a.m. HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application.
10:20 a.m. HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools.

WAYS AND MEANS, Rooms 202-204, LOB
9:00 a.m. SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

9:30 a.m. NH Supreme Court Oral Argument –voucher case

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the Department of Education.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as part of a child’s individualized education program.
1:15 p.m. Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accounting and Assessment

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executives session on
SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body,

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

10:00 a.m. House in session

12:30 p.m. Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility, 62 North Main Street. Walk south on North Main. Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

3-31-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Smarter Balance Testing and A ‘Thank You’ To Legislators

AFT NH Legislative Update

Now that crossover has come and gone both chambers will start working on each other’s bills.  Both chambers have till May 15th to act on these bills.

I would like to thank all the representatives that supported us on the following bills:

AFT-NH supported the recommendation of Ought To Pass as amended on HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. The amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

AFT-NH was also in support of the Inexpedient To Legislate on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

We are disappointed that the following bills were defeated: 

HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH supported this bill because it would have lifted the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funded it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

HB 1114: which sought to establish a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. This bill would have put a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford completing upgrades, repairs or build new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind, 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Common Core and The Smarter Balance State Assessment

There were several bills voted on in the House that were related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. Knowing that both of these will be moving forward in New Hampshire we need to ensure that all schools have the following in place:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards needs to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.
  • We need to make sure the assessments inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning.
  • Assessments need to support teaching and learning, and must align with curriculum rather than narrow it.
  • Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn.
  • Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.
  • The development and implementation of assessments must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.
  • These assessments must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 1

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1146, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of funding a kindergarten
to college/career ready program and a universal college savings account.
1:30 p.m. HB 1489-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the establishment of a fund to
reimburse costs associated with firefighters who have cancer.
Executive Session May Follow

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating
to a police checkpoint.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306
10:30 a.m. SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the Director of the Division
of Forests and Lands.
11:30 a.m. SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal
budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen
administered by the New Hampshire retirement system.
10:00 a.m. HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments
to estates in certain instances.
10:30 a.m. HB 1617-FN, permitting the retirement system to access death, marriage, and
divorce records of the division of vital records administration for the administration of
RSA 100-A.
Executive Session May Follow

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to
reporting by political committees.

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1488-FN, establishing the New Hampshire program on educational support for
military children.
9:20 a.m. HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.
Executive Session May Follow

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees
received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in
which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 335-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study career and technical
education centers.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307: All legislators are invited to a showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of
juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.
Executive Session May Follow

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and
assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school
administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the
Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in
elementary and secondary schools.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a child’s
individualized education program.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

12:30 p.m. 62 North Main Street:  Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility. Walk south on North Main, Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three-minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

Bill Duncan of ANHPE, Response To A Barrington, NH, Middle School Teacher’s Critique Of The Common Core

Teacher

Larry Graykin, Barrington Middle School English teacher, recently posted a guest editorial opposing the Common Core on NH Labor News.  He brings a lot of credibility as a teacher, but I do have questions about his post.

First, why does Mr. Graykin rely so much on secondary sources and outside experts when he could draw upon has his own classroom experience and that of his peers in Barrington and around the state?  He uses familiar references that are in general circulation but his classroom is more interesting and credible.  Mr. Graykin is in his classroom every day and can make a valuable contribution to the discussion based on the results he is seeing – or not – as he uses the new standards.

Here are some examples where I think Mr. Graykin’s own experience would have served him better than the experts.

Are the standards developmentally appropriate?

The debate about what’s developmentally appropriate to teach young children is decades old but it reappears these days framed as whether the Common Core is developmentally appropriate.

There is a fundamental reality to acknowledge here first.  The Common Core does set a higher standard.  Expectations for our students, especially those from low-income families, have been too low.  We see it in low graduation rates, high college remediation rates, low college completion rates…and, of course, in poor results on the international tests.

The changes we must make to meet these higher standards are difficult.  Not every school and every leadership team will be prepared or will have the support needed to make this transition easily.

So it’s not surprising that some think the new standards are too hard.

But why go all the way to Connecticut for  a quote from an elementary school principal concerned about the standards?  Mr. Graykin could just walk over to the Barrington Elementary School and write about what he finds there. Whatever he reports, pro or con, would be a contribution to the conversation because he could provide context and insight.

Teachers down the road at Sanborn Regional think that the standards are entirely developmentally appropriate – that it’s just a matter of how you teach.  Maybe he’d find that in Barrington and his concerns would be addressed.  Or maybe not.  Either way, readers would get some deeper insight from the exchange.

But are the new standards a big enough leap forward to justify these new concerns about developmental appropriateness?  New Hampshire’s previous set of standards, adopted in 2006, were called the Grade Level Expectations (GLEs).  When you compare the Common Core math standards to the GLEs, the new standards are clearly more focused on a smaller number of topics each year, but the topics themselves are not that big a jump in difficulty.

Kindergarten math:  Here is a comparison of the GLEs to the Common Core math standards.  Much of the concern about developmental appropriateness focuses on kindergarten,  so look at that comparison in particular.  The two standards look pretty close to me.

It is true that Dr. Milgram, whom Mr. Graykin cites as an authority,  thinks the kindergarten standards are a problem but when you look (here and here, for instance), Dr. Milgram’s argument doesn’t hold up.  In any case, experience in Barrington’s kindergarten classrooms would be more interesting than that of a retired California math professor.

Second grade writing: Mr. Graykin goes on to say makes that the writing expectations for elementary school children are too high.  He cites June 2010 commentary by UNH English Professor Tom Newkirk as his authority.  (Prof. Newkirk expanded on that in this 2013 essay.)

One of Prof. Newkirk’s major complaints about the Common Core is that the standards for “informational writing” in the second grade are not developmentally appropriate.

But how different are the Common Core standards from New Hampshire’s former GLEs.  Here is what GLEs said about informational writing for the second grade:

In informational writing (reports or procedures only), students effectively convey purpose by: Establishing a topic

  • students demonstrate use of a range of elaboration strategies by: Including details/information relevant to topic and/or focus
  • students demonstrate use of a range of elaboration strategies by: Using sufficient details/pictures to illustrate facts
  • students organize ideas/concepts by: Providing a concluding statement

And here is the equivalent informational writing Common Core standard, called “informative/explanatory writing” for the second grade:

“Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.”

The Common Core standards is much simpler, but the expectations of the second grader are clearly similar.  So Prof. Newkirk goes to an appendix to try to make his point.  He says,

“The target student texts in Appendix C [of the Common Core standards] are clearly those of exceptional, even precocious students; in fact, the CCSS has taken what I see as exceptional work, that of perhaps the top 5 percent of students, and made it the new norm. What had once been an expectation for fourth graders becomes the standard for second graders…Normally this would be the expectation of an upper-elementary report; now it is the requirement for seven-year-olds.”

If you look at the appendix, though, there is no sample informative/explanatory essay for second graders.  Here is one for the end of the third grade.  That would certainly represent “exceptional, even precocious” work for a second grader.

Prof. Newkirk is a respected teacher of writing and runs a well-regarded writing program at UNH.  But he has strained so hard to reach the desired conclusion in this case that he got his facts wrong.

Rather than drawing on this kind of academic debate about pushing second graders too hard, why wouldn’t Mr. Graykin just ask a Barrington second grade teacher?  Whatever she said would be a real contribution.

Poetry in middle school

Mr. Graykin says,

“There are NO standards for the writing of poetry.  None.”

That’s kind of true, but it’s a longer story.  The Common Core standards actually pay more attention to poetry than the GLEs did.

Here are the GLEs for writing poetry.  There are no poetry writing standards at all until the 7th grade and then there are only what’s called “local” standards.  That means that poetry is not tested on the NECAP, the statewide annual assessment.  And, when you think about it, how could the annual state assessment test the poetry writing proficiency of all students?  Would parents even want that?

The Common Core standards do make suggestions for poetry readings in every grade.  Here are the grade 6-8 reading “exemplars,” suggestions the standards make for the Barrington Middle School.  The actual selection is left up to Mr. Graykin but the list of suggested poets includes Longfellow, Whitman, Carroll, Navajo tradition, Dickinson, Yeats, Frost, Sandburg, Hughes, Neruda.  Not bad.

As the standards say here, although poetry writing is not part of the standards, the teaching of many types of poetry and other creative writing is left to the discretion of the teacher.

So the Common Core standards take pretty much the same position about poetry that the GLEs did – teach poetry but don’t make proficiency in writing poetry a testing goal for every American student.  Seems pretty logical to me.

In addition, while the NECAP did not use poetry readings in its eighth grade test, the Common Core test (in New Hampshire it’s Smarter Balanced) usespoetry readings throughout its testing.  So poetry actually plays a stronger role now that it did before.

Mr. Graykin says parenthetically that his school can’t change the standards because they are copyrighted and only 15% can be added.  The 15% rule is and urban myth.  Has anyone ever seen it acted upon?  How would that even happen?

Here is the very flexible copyright.  And teachers and school districts all over NH are using that flexibility to change their standards to meet local needs.  Here are Manchester’s changes, in process.  Sanborn Regional does it.  Many other districts do.

Mr. Graykin should feel free to assign as much poetry as he wants.

Narrative and fiction in middle school: Mr. Graykin’s assertion that there is no reference to fiction writing is incorrect.

Narrative writing –  defined as “creative fictional stories, memoirs, anecdotes, and autobiographies” - is an important part of the Common Core standards in every grade.

The 8th grade Common Core standard for the narrative writing says,

3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.

c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.

d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

This standard clearly supports teaching as much fiction writing as the teacher decides is appropriate.  A teacher who thinks that fiction is more important than autobiography or memoir can make that choice.  The same techniques of narrative writing apply.  It’s the writing techniques, not the specific genres, that the standards want students to master.

For comparison, here is the GLE 8th grade standard for narrative writing:

In written narratives, students organize and relate a story line/plot/series of events by…

  • Creating a clear and coherent (logically consistent) story line
  • Establishing context, character, motivation, problem/conflict/challenge, and resolution, and maintaining point of view
  • Using a variety of effective transitional devices (e.g., ellipses, time transitions, white space, or words/phrases) to enhance meaning
  • Establishing and maintaining a theme
  • Providing a sense of closure

Could they be any closer?  So why all the new complaints about the Common Core?  Is it because New Hampshire developed its former standards with only a few New England states and participated, as hundreds of our teacher did, with many states to develop these standards?

Mr. Graykin and Prof. Newkirk may have criticisms about federalism, but the points they make about the standards themselves don’t hold up.  The standards will surely need to evolve, hopefully based on the experience of classroom teachers like Mr. Graykin.  But the political side of the debate doesn’t add much.

Granite State Rumblings: Technology in (and outside of) the Classroom, Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

Every Child Matters2

Every Child MattersIt is amazing how reliant we have become on technology in the past decade.  And it is even more amazing how important technology has become in education.  We didn’t take computer classes when I was in school, we took typing.  And I wasn’t very good at it, although I have gotten better as I’ve aged.

But imagine what it is like for kids today. Spidey at 6 years old knows more about apps and my iPad than I do. When I run into a problem on my laptop, I hear, “Grandma, want some help?”  He is fortunate because as he gets further into his public education, he will have a leg up on some other children in his class. He lives in a home where the Internet and devices are available 24/7.

Access to the Internet connects kids to all kinds of information — and for low-income students especially, that access has the power to change their social structure by allowing them to become empowered and engaged, says Michael Mills, a professor of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Arkansas.

A Pew Research survey in 2012 of more than 2,400 middle school and high school Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers  shows that, while teachers believe technology has helped with their teaching, it’s also brought new challenges — including the possibility of creating a bigger rift between low-income and high-income students.

Here are a few highlights from that report:

  • A large majority of these teachers (84%) agree to some extent with the statement that “Today’s digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and school districts.” However, asked whether today’s digital technologies are narrowing or widening the gap between the most and least academically successful students, 44% say technology is narrowing the gap and 56% say it is widening the gap.
  • These teachers see disparities in access to digital tools having at least some impact on their students. More than half (54%) say all or almost all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools at school, but only a fifth of these teachers (18%) say all or almost all of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home.
  • Access to devices is noticeably different between higher and lower and income schools. More than half of teachers — 55% — of higher income students say they or their students use e-readers in the classroom, compared with 41%  teaching in low income areas. And 52% of teachers of upper and upper-middle income students say their students use cell phones to look up information in class, compared with 35% of teachers of the lowest income students.
  • Apart from access to devices, knowing how best to use them is also a problem for low-income students. The survey showed that 39% of AP and NWP teachers of low income students say their school is “behind the curve” when it comes to effectively using digital tools in the learning process; just 15% of teachers of higher income students rate their schools poorly in this area.
  • 33% of teachers of lower income students say their school’s rules about classroom cell phone use by students have a major impact on their teaching, compared with 15% of those who teach students from the highest income households.

Teachers of the lowest income students are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to the digital tools they need, both in school and at home. In terms of community type, teachers in urban areas are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to digital tools IN SCHOOL, while rural teachers are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access AT HOME.

As there are projects being piloted all across the country exploring the potential of mobile learning, especially as it relates to reaching out to disenfranchised students, the most recent results from Project K-Nect seem that much more relevant.

Project K-Nect is a pilot program that began during the 2007-2008 school year to discover if 24/7 connected smartphones could play a role in enhancing student engagement and learning. The project addressed the need to improve math skills among at-risk students in North Carolina who scored poorly in math and did not have access to the Internet at home. Algebra I digital content aligned with current lesson plans was created and students were encouraged to learn from each other in and out of the classroom. Students did so by using social networking applications on the smartphone, as well as other Internet resources such as algebra.com.

  • By the end of the fall 2010 semester, 89 percent of the Algebra I students reported they are more motivated to learn math compared to 76 percent at the beginning of the semester.
  • 90 percent of the Project K-Nect students in Algebra I and 100 percent of the Algebra II students demonstrated proficiency on their end of course exams.
  • By the end of the fall 2010 semester, 89 percent of the Algebra I students reported they are more motivated to learn math compared to 76 percent at the beginning of the semester.
  • The majority of students reported they are also more comfortable learning math (83 percent), felt more successful (72 percent) and better prepared to take the end-of course exam (72 percent).
  • By the end of the semester, the number of students who thought, “math is easy” more than doubled from 29 percent to 61 percent.
  • Algebra I students expressed an interest in taking additional math classes, including Advanced Placement courses.
  • They also said they are more interested in attending college (56 percent) or pursuing a degree or career that would use their math skills (33 percent).

What’s more, the report states that “students’ increased use of and familiarity with technology through Project K-Nect helps students easily integrate the use of technology to other curricular areas.”

As we hear educators to government officials to industry experts, lament the lackluster abilities and performance of our nations’ students in science, technology, engineering and math (know as STEM education), shouldn’t we be looking at ways to get and keep students interested and motivated in learning?

I haven’t seen one kid yet who isn’t interested in one new app or another on a smartphone, have you? So why not use that to their advantage in the classroom?

Growing Up Granite

It is time to ensure that all 24 State Senators know why New Hampshire needs to raise the minimum wage. HB1403 is headed their way.

Here is some important information to share with them from our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

Nearly five years after the end of the national recession, low-wage workers in New Hampshire continue to struggle to make ends meet.  Since 2009, wages for the lowest-paid fifth of New Hampshire workers have fallen by 5.6 percent after adjusting for inflation.  At the same time, the state’s poverty rate – 10 percent in 2012 – remains considerably higher than what it was at the start of the downturn – 7.1 percent in 2007.

One of the factors that has likely contributed to such economic insecurity is the neglect of New Hampshire’s minimum wage.  At $7.25 per hour, it is currently the lowest in New England and has lost substantial purchasing power over the past several decades.

A measure now before the New Hampshire legislature seeks to strengthen the minimum wage and to begin to build an economy that works for everyone in the Granite State.  More specifically, HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two steps:  from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  The measure would also require automatic annual cost of living adjustments, based on the Consumer Price Index, beginning in 2017. Read the entire brief here.

In Brief:

  • New Hampshire’s minimum wage has lost over 23 percent of its purchasing power in the last 35 years and is well below what workers need to make ends meet.
  • New Hampshire’s minimum wage is the lowest in New England and will fall even further behind in the years ahead.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour would directly or indirectly increase the wages of 75,800 workers – or 12 percent of New Hampshire’s workforce.
  • Most of the workers who would be affected are women, adults, and employed at least half time.
  • A $9.00 minimum wage would produce an average wage increase of $870 per year for affected workers and generate $64 million in additional wages statewide.
  • A higher minimum wage could have benefits for the New Hampshire economy: greater consumer demand, reduced turnover, and higher productivity.

 

3-23-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Retirement, False Claims against Public Employees, and More

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative UpdateWe are now entering the final week prior to “crossover” on Thursday, March 27.  The House will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while the Senate will be in session on Thursday. Each will have to finish up on all their own bills by Thursday, after which they begin taking up those bills sent from the other chamber.

AFT-NH thanks the representatives that stood with us by voting to defeat:

  • HB 1101-FN, relative to the recovery of overpayments by the retirement system and establishing a committee to study the policies and procedures of the retirement system for benefits wrongfully paid.
  • HB 1493-FN-L, relative to members of the retirement system working after retirement, and relative to membership of political subdivision officials appointed for fixed terms.

We would have liked HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils to have been defeated as well but the House referred this bill to interim study.

HB 1122, (New Title) relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property was tabled (which AFT-NH supported),  because HB 1565-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien or encumbrance against a public servant will be voted on this week with a recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee of ‘Ought to Pass As Amended’.

As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property. Unless you go to the Register of Deeds in your county and fill out paperwork to be notified of such actions, you would never know this lien existed until you wanted to sell your home. It could take up to a year to clear this up and could be very costly.

THIS WEEK THE HOUSE WILL BE VOTING ON THE FOLLOWING BILLS:

CONSENT CALENDAR

The Finance committee recommended ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’ on HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH asks that this recommendation be overturned and a motion of Ought To Pass be brought forward. AFT-NH supports this bill because it lifts the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funds it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

The Finance recommended ‘Ought to Pass’ on HB 1494-FN,relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. AFT-NH supports this recommendation. We were originally opposed to this bill as it was a policy overreach by the NHRS, but Rep. Goley’s amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

PART I OF THE CALENDAR

AFT-NH is in support of the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee’s recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

COMMON CORE AND THE SMARTER BALANCE STATE ASSESSMENT

There are several bills that will be voted on that are related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. I think it bears repeating where AFT-NH stands:

AFT-NH knows that a Recent AFT Poll found that 75 Percent of teachers support the Common Core standards, but it also found that they have not had enough time to understand them, put them into practice or discuss them with colleagues.

If these standards are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies alone with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

We also know that:

States and districts must work with teachers to develop a high quality curriculum and professional development programming, provide teachers with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms, commit financial resources to ensure success, and engage parents and the community.

When assessing students, we need to make sure these tests inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning. All children deserve a rich, meaningful public education that prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges that await them as they become contributing members of a democratic society.  Growing our nation’s future citizens and workers is a serious undertaking that calls for a thoughtful focus on teaching and learning. Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the growing fixation on high-stakes testing has undermined that focus, putting at grave risk our students’ learning and their ability to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy and fulfill their personal goals.

We believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.  Because each district is at different stages in their teacher/staff development and student curriculum changes that meet Common Core Standards and the assessment of their students, the Department of Education should waive the Smarter Balance testing deadline for at least another two years.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

PART II OF THE CALENDAR

The Finance committee recommended ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’ on HB 1114: which establishes a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. AFT-NH is in support of this bill and would like the committee recommendation to be overturned and a recommendation of Ought To Pass be brought forward. It puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford to complete upgrades, repairs or build new building because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and click “Like Us”
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS WEEK OF MONDAY, MARCH 24

TUESDAY, MARCH 25
10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate COMMERCE, Room 101, LOB
1:15 p.m. HB 1404, relative to payroll cards.
1:35 p.m. HB 1405, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.
1:55 p.m. HB 1407, relative to privacy in the workplace.
2:15 p.m. HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity.

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1132-FN, relative to school building security.

9:20 a.m. HB 1260-FN-L, relative to communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.
9:40 a.m. HB 1113, requiring school districts to distribute a concussion and head injury information sheet to student-athletes and establishing a definition for head injury.
10:20 a.m. HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.
EXECUTIVE SESSION

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:15 a.m. HB 1137-FN, relative to annulment of certain obstruction of justice crimes and relative to the crime of escape.
9:30 a.m. HB 1533-FN, requiring a warrant to search information in a portable electronic device.
9:45 a.m. HB 1144, establishing a committee to study information included in arrest records and access to information on the disposition of criminal cases.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26
10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
10:00 a.m. HB 1102, relative to membership of the police standards and training council.
10:20 a.m. HB 1222, prohibiting commercial use of the law enforcement and fallen firefighters memorials.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

THURSDAY, MARCH 27
10:00 a.m. House in Session

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 1
House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating to a police checkpoint.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.
11:00 a.m. SB 183-FN, (New Title) relative to identification of voters, processing absentee ballots, and voluntary political expenditure limitations.

House JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 262-FN, revising the form for “summons instead of arrest” and prohibiting attachments in small claims actions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10
House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the department of education to the department of revenue administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools.

3-17-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: School Building Aid Bill, Retirement, Charter Schools, and More

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

Both the House and Senate are finishing work on their bills prior to the crossover deadline of March 27th (after which bills from one chamber can no longer cross-over to the other chamber for consideration).  The House will be meeting on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the next two weeks to finish up on bills and the Senate will be meeting Thursday the 27th to finish up. Then we start all over again with the House holding committee hearings on passed Senate bills and the Senate holding committee hearings on passed House bills.

This coming Wednesday and Thursday the House will be considering the following bills:

CONSENT CALENDAR

The Finance committee made the recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate‘ on HB 1114: which establishes a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. AFT-NH asks that this be taken off the consent calendar and the recommendation be overturned and a recommendation of ‘Ought To Pass’  be presented. AFT-NH supports this bill for it puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many districts have not been able to afford upgrades, repairs or build new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

REGULAR CALENDAR PART II

AFT-NH supports the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee’s recommendation of ‘Ought to Pass as amended’ on HB 1565-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien or encumbrance against a public servant. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property. Unless you go to the Register of Deeds in your county and fill out paperwork to be notified of such actions, you would never know this lien existed until you wanted to sell your home. It could take up to a year to clear this up and could be very costly.

AFT-NH supports the Executive Departments and Administration Committee’s recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  on HB 1101-FN, relative to the recovery of overpayments by the retirement system and establishing a committee to study the policies and procedures of the retirement system for benefits wrongfully paid. This bill is unnecessary for there is already a process in place for recouping overpayments, and this puts the entire onus on the employee, penalizing them when the error is more likely to be made on the other end.

AFT-NH is in support of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee’s recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  on HB 1493-FN-L, relative to members of the retirement system working after retirement, and relative to membership of political subdivision officials appointed for fixed terms. AFT-NH knows that this bill gives unprecedented authority to the executive director of the NHRS to apply punishments at his/her discretion to the employee, when part-time work reporting is both an employer and employee responsibility. To put all the onus on the employee is wrong.

AFT-NH would have like the Finance committee to recommend ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  and not ‘Referred Interim Study’ on HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils. Keep in mind that Charter Schools:

  • Do not accept all children that walk through their doors,
  • They entire teaching staff are not certified,
  • They do not take on all the responsibility of educating special education students but they  rely on the child’s local school system to offer services,
  • They do not take on the responsibility of transporting the students to school.
  • They do not have to follow all the laws and rules that current public schools follow.

Also remembers when a charter school opens, your local tax dollars, taken from your local school district budget, must pay for services for special education students attending the charter school.  If a charter school opens in your community your tax dollars are going to transport any student that lives in your community attending the charter school.  All of this is mandated by State law, and in a time when budgets are tight charter schools seem to be coming back and asking for more and more. And you have no say in the matter unless our local elected state leaders stand up and say “No more!”

AFT-NH is in support of the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee’s recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARING FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 17, 2014

TUESDAY, MARCH 18

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:00 a.m. Continued public hearing on
HB 1122-FN, (New Title) relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property, –this is the same as HB 1565 which AFT-NH supports

RULES, Room 303, LOB
2:30 p.m. Regular meeting

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:30 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the department of education,

HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive Session May Follow

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19

10:00 a.m. House in session

PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS, Room 102, LOB
10:30 a.m. HB 297, relative to the management of trust funds and capital reserve funds and pertaining to library trustees.

THURSDAY, MARCH 20

10:00 a.m. House in session