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

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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.

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.

11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal
budget committee to the governing body.


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.

1:30 p.m. SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


10:00 a.m. Senate in Session


11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

Kuster to House Leadership: Don’t let Transportation Funding Run Dry


Calls on Republicans and Democrats to work together to support jobs and economic development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) called on House leadership to work together to provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund before payments to states are delayed or interrupted.  The Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which provides funding to states for transportation and infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges, is expected to drop below a critical funding threshold by June of this year.

“A robust, safe, and efficient transportation network is absolutely critical to protecting public safety, growing our economy, and creating jobs in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Kuster.  “Granite Staters will lose jobs and important projects may go unfinished if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money in the middle of the busy construction season.  Congress must act now and provide states and businesses with the certainty they need to carry out these vital infrastructure projects.”

“Consistent and predictable funding is critical to our country’s highway infrastructure and the industry that maintains this national network of roads and bridges. We appreciate Congresswoman Kuster’s recognition of the very real potential for funding disruptions as we approach the expiration of MAP-21. Funding needs to be introduced to make MAP-21 solvent and in the longer term a new long term highway bill needs to be passed this year to adequately fund our infrastructure investment,” said Christian Zimmermann, President of Pike Industries, a Belknap County highway construction company.

The Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956, is the primary source of funding for highway and transit programs and projects on the state, local, and federal level.   The HTF is funded by a federal fuel tax of 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.  Declining revenues from these fuel taxes in recent years has led to funding shortfalls in the HTF, which has been supplemented by additional funds appropriated by Congress.  Authorization for the HTF, last reauthorized by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012, will expire on September 30, 2014.

The full text of Congresswoman Kuster’s letter is here and below:

March 19, 2014 

The Honorable John A. Boehner                                               The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker                                                                                      Democratic Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                                  U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol                                                                    H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515                                                             Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker and Madam Leader: 

I write today to ask that you work together to provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund before payments to states are delayed or interrupted. 

The Department of Transportation recently announced that the Highway Trust Fund balance could drop below a critical threshold as early as June of this year.  As a result, payments to states would be delayed or halted in the middle of the busy summer construction season.  This would jeopardize many transportation infrastructure projects that are vital to ensuring the safety of my constituents and could result in job losses in my district and around the country.

Businesses across New Hampshire tell me that one of the most important things we can do to help them thrive is to provide a safe and robust transportation network.  A transportation network that quickly moves goods to the market and people to their jobs is the key to our continued economic recovery and support from the Highway Trust Fund helps make this possible.

I urge you to work with both parties to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund remains solvent for the remainder of this fiscal year and to craft a long-term reauthorization of surface transportation programs that provides certainty and support moving forward.

I appreciate your consideration of my request and pledge to assist in any manner I am able. 


Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress 

cc: The Honorable Anthony Foxx, Secretary

           U.S. Department of Transportation

Rep. Ken Weyler Introduces More Charter School Bills To The NH House Education Committee

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Rep. Weyler (R-Kingston) had two charter bills before the House Education Committee last week.  HB 1392 repeals  RSA 194-B:3-a, V(c), which says,

“Not more than 10 percent of the resident pupils in any grade shall be eligible to transfer to a chartered public school in any school year without the approval of the local school board.”

And HB 1393 requires school districts to pay charter schools a portion of the tuition under certain circumstances.

Taken together, the two bills promote accelerated growth of charter enrollments by enabling large scale replacement of district schools by charter schools as seen in recent years in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities.

Here is Rep. Weyler’s testimony about HB 1392.  He does not really give a reason for wanting to remove the 10% limit on annual transfers.  He does make a couple of points, though.

At minute 0:50, Rep. Weyler says that NH charter enrollment will grow by only 50 students between this year and next.  However, NHDOE, working with the charter association, projects that charter enrollment will grow by 1,003 students, from 1,999 to 3,002.  That’s 50% – not 50 students.

Below, Rick Trombly, Executive Director of NEA-NH, testifies in opposition to the bill, saying that NEA-NH does not oppose charters in principle but that the methodology the NHDOE describes is right and does not need to be changed.

He says that the State should leave the limit in place and review the impact of a charter on the local public school as part of it’s analysis of a charter application.

He goes on to make the point that this bill should be considered in the context of HB 435, which increases charter funding and is currently under consideration in the House Finance Committee.  He says that when charters initially got going, advocates said, “We can do it.  We can fund these things.  We can raise the money.” At the time, NEA-NH predicted that contributions would be difficult to raise and that the schools would come to the State seeking a portion of the limited education funding available.  That has always an issue for the NEA and now that’s what’s happening.

Dean Michner, from the NH School Boards Association, then testifies mainly to the historical context, saying that the 10% annual cap was put in place to allow schools to plan in cases where specialized charters that might offer STEM courses, for instance, and draw students for whom the school had developed AP courses.

And here is Rep. Weyler’s presentation of HB 1393, as well as testimony from Dean Michener of the School Boards Association and Laura Hainey of the AFT opposing the bill.

Advancing NH Public Education Files Complaint Over Voucher Scholarship Funding Errors

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Voucher program complaint filed with New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration

Scholarship organization making errors in administration of the education tax credit program

Portsmouth, NH – Based in a report in today’s Concord Monitor, the Network for Educational Opportunity, the only active scholarship organization under New Hampshire’s education tax credit program, would not be conforming with New Hampshire law if it awarded scholarships according to its current plan.

Under the current plan, 100 students would receive scholarships.  Of those, the 15 students leaving public schools would receive an average of almost $11,000 each.  The other 85 students, 85% of the scholarship recipients, are already in private or home schools.  They would receive only several hundred dollars apiece.

This distribution of the funds does not conform with the requirements of the statute.  Here are the details.

Therefore, we have filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration requesting that the department review the scholarship organization’s program immediately, before scholarships are awarded.

Bill Duncan, founder of Advancing New Hampshire Public Education, said: “The errors in the program as announced today are too serious to let stand.  NHDRA should investigate.  The voucher program is ill-conceived, overly complex and, now, poorly administered. The New Hampshire Senate should go along with the House and repeal the education tax credit program.”

NEA-NH Shows Their Cards When It Comes To Funding Education Through Gambling

NEA Press Conference 4-1-13

NEA Press Conference 4-1-13The National Education Association (NEA) of New Hampshire President Scott McGilvray held a press conference today in Concord to show NEA’s support for the Hassan Budget.  NEA-NH represents over 16,000 education professionals who are deeply committed to the success of every child and believe that funding public education is an investment in New Hampshire’s future.

President McGilvray also spoke out against ‘Single-Source’ funding for education.

“We are against single-source funding plans for education. If gaming were presented as a single- source funding plan, we would oppose it on that basis.”

The key is that gambling cannot be the only source of income.  While some may be against gambling for moral reasons, the fact is that the lottery system already give money to the education system.

“Given how public education has come to rely on gaming in New Hampshire, and how gaming has changed and expanded in the state, it is difficult for an education association to claim that one form of gaming is morally superior to another.”

The main reason for the press conference was for NEA-NH to show their full support behind Gov. Hassan’s budget.

“The NEA-NH Executive Board enthusiastically supports the Governor’s budget and urges members of the Legislature to adopt the plan.”

“There is a moral imperative to pass this budget to fund the programs needed by our children and our most vulnerable citizens.”

Full Text of Comments:

Good morning. I am Scott McGilvray, President of NEA-New Hampshire. This morning I would like to speak to you about Governor Hassan’s budget proposal and our support of that plan.

The 16,000 education professionals of NEA-NH are deeply committed to the success of every child and believe that funding public education is an investment in New Hampshire’s future. The students we educate today will become tomorrow’s leaders, and to succeed they must be prepared to meet the challenges they will face. Because of this, New Hampshire’s educators have always fought for school funding methods which are stable, reliable and multi-sourced. We have always opposed risking the future of our students with single-source funding because of the instability and unpredictability such funding possesses.

Education funding was fundamentally changed in 1964 when New Hampshire became the first state to legalize the lottery. Since that time, over $1.5 billion has gone to education through lottery sales. The New Hampshire lottery itself has moved from weekly drawings to instant scratch tickets that can be played more quickly than any table game proposed by Governor Hassan. Instant tickets initially sold for $1. They now sell for $2, $5, $10, $20 and even $30 per ticket at stores and in vending machines throughout the state. Citizens of the state enjoyed dog racing and two types of horse racing before those businesses left the state. Bingo is supplemented by pull-tab tickets that are played by the tens of thousands each week.

Many of the legislators opposed to the Governor’s budget voted to approve charity gamming. Since then, such gamming has grown dramatically from volunteer Bingo callers in church halls to Las Vegas style games and events run by outside organizations.

Given how education has come to rely on gaming in New Hampshire, and how the methods by which gaming have changed in the state, it is difficult for an education association to claim that one form of gaming is morally superior to another.

It should be noted that in the past, well-intentioned legislators have attempted to single-source fund public education through expanded gambling and we spoke out against it because we oppose risking the future of our students with such an unstable and unpredictable arrangement.

Prior to the Claremont decisions, the school funding issue had centered on the state’s broken promise to fund education through the Augenblick Formula. The experience of New Hampshire’s students and educators has been a string of broken promises and inadequate aid from the state for public Pre K-12 education. The state’s primary source of education aid remained the Sweepstakes which saw funding rise and fall depending on the number of lottery tickets sold during any given year. For students and educators, that remained an imprecise and unreliable source of revenue.

While educators hoped the Claremont decision would put the Auggenblick problem to rest, we were still concerned that the funding of adequacy would be vested in one source. Our concern was that school funding would rise and fall with the fortunes of that one source and that nothing would have been solved by the Claremont decision. To that end, NEA-NH took the position that adequacy needed to be funded in a manner to avoid this risk. The best way to do that was to have adequacy funded from multiple sources. The state’s general fund is a source that relies on multiple sources of revenue.

Governor Hassan has proposed a budget that fully funds the adequacy formula for New Hampshire schools. It gives more help to our citizens with special needs, and adds money for catastrophic aid and school transportation costs. It increases aid to local communities at a time when they are dealing with costs that were downshifted to taxpayers by the last Legislature. It provides money to hire additional law enforcement officers at a time when school safety is still debated in New Hampshire and across the country.

Taking into account the arguments on both sides of the gaming issue, the NEA-NH Executive Board believes that the moral imperative created by the need to fund Governor Hassan’s budget requires that it be passed and that it be funded with the revenue sources she proposes.

The choice is not between the Governor’s budget and a better plan. The choice is between Governor Hassan’s budget and one that slashes funding to our university system and shifts costs to already overburdened property taxpayers by not funding aid for catastrophic special education costs and school transportation. We cannot continue to balance our budget on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

After careful examination and consideration the NEA-NH Executive Board enthusiastically supports the Governor’s budget and funding plan and urges its adoption by the New Hampshire Legislature.

Democratic State Senator Martha Fuller Clark files legislation restoring UNH cuts

NH House

Sen. Clark, who represents UNH’s main campus, believes that cuts harm community, economy

(Portsmouth, NH) After being sworn in yesterday for a two-year term representing a new district that includes both her hometown of Portsmouth, UNH’s main campus in Durham and the surrounding communities of Newmarket, Madbury, and Lee filed legislation today to restore the cuts made to the University of New Hampshire during the last session.

“At a time when NH and the rest of the country is challenged to compete globally for good jobs, nothing is more important than having a well-educated workforce. We owe the opportunity for all of New Hampshire’s young people to access such an affordable quality education through our university system,” Fuller Clark said, adding. “That is why today I filed legislation to restore the millions of dollars of cuts from the University’s budget that occurred under Republican leadership in the state’s budget for 2012-2012.”

During her campaign to return to the Senate after a two-year absence, Fuller Clark repeatedly heard from voters that they were outraged by the cuts the GOP legislature delivered to the University of New Hampshire.

About Martha: Martha served terms in both the New Hampshire House and Senate since the ‘90s. A two-time candidate for the U.S. Congress, she currently serves as Vice-Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, a member of DNC and, in 2008 and again in 2012 served as co-chair of the New Hampshire Committee to elect Barack Obama President of the United States.Martha participates on many different boards and commissions in her community. She presently serves as President of the Board of Strawbery Banke, as an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is the past President of Scenic America.

Grant Bosse Has It All Wrong, PBS Is The Last Cut We Should Make

PBS LOGO 1971-1984

Let me start by saying that Grant makes some good points in his article “Big Bird doesn’t need our help: PBS subsidy is the easiest budget cut in Washington” however I take complete offense to his closing statement.

“This debate over funding PBS is actually quite informative. Anyone who insists we still need it obviously doesn’t really care about fixing the deficit, and needn’t be taken seriously.”

The debate on cutting PBS as the first and ‘easiest’ choice is retarded. That’s like taking a ladle of water out of a lake.  Grant even agrees with me on this.

“The half-billion dollars we spend on public broadcasting isn’t much compared to a trillion-dollar annual deficit and a $16 trillion debt”

He is right, Big Bird will be just fine.  Sesame Street is the largest revenue producer for PBS Television.  What Grant does not seem to understand is that Public Television is the only option for some poor children.  So when he says we need to “stop subsidizing upper-middle-class television” he could not be further from the truth.

PBS is watched by four out of five children under five years old.  Why is that? Because they are the best education programing on TV.

“PBS had five of the top 10 programs among mothers of young children in August 2012, and five of the top 10 programs for kids age two to five. (NielsenNPower, 8/2012)”.

According to a study done by Princeton University, PBS has “six of the top eight children’s shows” on TV. LaVar Burton said it best in his editorial to CNN (Note: I encourage everyone to read this)

“PBS offers kids television shows that are free — and especially free of hard-sell commercials and corporate points of view. PBS educates our children.”

Recently a study was done showing the direct impact from PBS educational programming and low-income children.  Without going it to too much detail, they said

“Educational television shows like Sesame Street and Between the Lions have shown positive effects on literacy skills”

People love and trust PBS.

“A survey this year said Americans consider PBS the most trusted public institution and the second-most valuable use of public funds behind only national defense.” (emphasis added)

You may think that nobody is really watching PBS well you would be wrong.

“PBS’ primetime audience is significantly larger than many commercial channels, including Bravo (PBS’ audience is 92% larger), TLC (88%), Discovery Channel (69%), HGTV (64%), HBO (62%) and A&E (29%). In addition, PBS’ primetime rating for news and public affairs programming is 91% higher than that of CNN. (Nielsen Power, 9/19/2011-9/9/2012)”

As I stated in my previous post on Romney and Sesame Street, the $440 million dollars that PBS gets is like seed money. For every dollar they are give they raise six more. All of which is reinvested into PBS shows and broadcasting.  PBS also uses this money to help teacher and parents. They created PBS Learing Media a free, online media-on-demand service developed for educators featuring photos, video, audio files and more with lesson plans, background essays, and discussion questions.

So now that you know why PBS has been around for over four decades and continues to go stronger. This is a strong investment in our future.  It is an investment in our children.  It is an aide to teachers, and parents.  All provided for by a tiny fraction of the US Budget.

Grant is right, we have a rising debt problem, however cutting PBS should be the last thing we should ever do.  Before you talk about cutting Big Bird out of the budget lets talk about some of the other cuts we can make?  Lets talk about raising revenue? Lets talk about cutting other subsidies like oil?  After we have exhausted all of those options and then we still need to make cuts, then and only then, should we discuss cutting PBS.