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AFT-NH Wants Your Help To Save Our Public Schools: A message from Laura Hainey (Pres. AFT-NH)


Last year the legislature passed two bills diverting public money for education to religious and private schools as well as home schoolers. This session, HB 370 aims to repeal this education tax credit program.

The tax credit program initiated in 2012 is an ill-disguised attempt to begin dismantling and privatizing our public education in NH while weakening our good schools. We are justly proud of our schools in NH and these vouchers will only harm public education.

It’s time for you to contact members of the House Ways and Means Committee and ask that they vote to pass HB 370 and repeal the education tax credit program.

Please click here TODAY  and ask the House Ways And Means committee to support NH public schools and defend the NH constitution by voting to pass HB 370.

If you care about public education in NH, please take this action.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today

“Fighting For Our Future” 


INZANE TIMES: Manchester Rallies to “Save Our Schools”

This is a special re-posting of InZane Times, by Arnie Alpert.
Originally posted here.

manchester 9-22-12 class size matters

Overcrowded Classrooms Threaten Education System

Teacher layoffs that have caused the number of students to swell above 40 in some high school classrooms sparked a “Save Our Schools” rally that brought about 250 people to Manchester’s Veterans Park for a rally this afternoon.

The school system in the New Hampshire’s largest city started the year with 150 fewer faculty members than the year before, a cut of 12%.

Luke Hayward, a first-year student at Central High School, one of 4 public high schools in the city, said his Spanish and English classes each have about 37 students.  The state’s standard for high schools is no more than 30.  Luke’s friend Andrew said his Algebra 1 class has 42 students.

In some overcrowded classes students are using clipboards for want of sufficient desks.

“It’s hard to get the teacher’s attention,” Hayward said, noting teachers have trouble controlling classes when there are so many students in the room.

Neither student had ever been to a rally before.

manchester 9-22-12 Tom OSpeaking from the Veterans Park stage, Tom O’Connell of Citizens for Manchester Schools, put the blame squarely on the city’s political leadership.  “The fundamental problem is insufficient funding,” he said.  “We spend less per kid than any other town,” he added.

That was an exaggeration, but only very slight. One town, Hudson, spends less. Manchester is269th out of 270 school districts in per-student spending.

The Queen City spends $9826 per student, 23% below the state average of $12,775.

Ron Kew, who served as a teacher and principal in the city before the threat of layoff forced him to look elsewheremanchester 9-22-12 crowd for a job, said “Every year teachers are cut, which means education for children is diminished.”  Kew, now a principal in Brentwood, accused  Manchester officials of “educational malpractice” and led the crowd in chants of “malpractice.”

Speakers at the Save Our Schools rally, organized by Citizens for Manchester Schools, united in statements that teachers deserve no blame for the fiscal situation which led the Board of Alderman to approve a school budget $8 million below the figure the Superintendent said was needed.

Jerome Duval, a former city official said “we need to invest in city-provided services.”

“Don’t allow your appeal to our city fathers for smaller class sizmanchester 9-22-12 Sarah robyes be dismissed,” he said.
Sarai Roby was the one student who spoke from the stage.  “Everybody I know complains about their class size,” said the Central High School junior in brief and well delivered remarks.  “Thankfully, there’s enough desks for everybody,” she said, but noted that in one classroom her seat is broken and “stabs me in the back.”

No one at the rally would argue with the notion that a desk for every student is a rather low standard.

City leaders should “get out from behind the excuses to fix the problem,” O’Connell charged.  “It comes back to political action.”  Almost on cue, Maggie Hassan, the Democratic candidate for Governor, appeared in the park, followed soon after by Carol Shea-Porter, Democratic candidate for Congress.  Neither spoke from the stage, but bothmanchester 9-22-12 SOS rallyshook lots of hands.

The crowd included plenty of teachers and students, at least one active principal and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Thomas Brennan.  Brennan plans to leave his post at the end of the school year.

Nationwide, 75% of public school teachers are female; I expect Manchester’s statistics are in the same ballpark. Sarai Roby was the only woman who appeared on the stage.  For that matter, she was also the sole student and the only person of color. Citizens for Manchester Schools would benefit from a more inclusive approach if it is going to build a strong enough movement to rock the city’s power structure.

End America’s Fixation On High-Stakes Testing

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.
But the growing fixation on high-stakes testing has undermined that focus, putting at grave risk our students’ learning and their ability both to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy and to fulfill their personal goals.

Add your name to the thousands of Americans taking a stand to restore balance to public education by prioritizing high-quality instruction informed by appropriate and useful assessments.

The AFT executive council recently passed a resolution calling for an end to America’s fixation on high-stakes testing. Assessments should promote, not impede, teaching and learning. That’s the clear stand thousands of educators will consider this July when they gather for the AFT national convention in Detroit.

Test-driven education policies have forced educators to sacrifice time needed to help students learn to critically analyze content and, instead, focus on teaching to the test. These policies have pushed passionate, talented educators out of classrooms, misled parents about their children’s academic strengths and needs, and deprived children of the rich learning experiences they need in order to succeed in a 21st-century knowledge economy. And far too many examples exist of tests riddled with errors and as such serve as unreliable indicators of student performance.

By every credible measure, the testing fixation rooted in the No Child Left Behind Act has failed our students. Join thousands of educators and pledge your support for the resolution on using tests to inform, not impede, teaching and learning.

We are committed to restoring balance to public education, and ensuring that assessments support teaching and learning. Together, we can guarantee every child the high-quality public education they deserve, and ensure that educators have the tools and resources they need to help our children learn and grow.

I hope you will join us.

In unity,

Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Randi Weingarten
AFT President

P.S. You can read the full text of the proposed resolution here.


NH Elections: Ovide Supports School Vouchers, Another Reason Not To Support Ovide

Well this week was saw the NH Legislature put the needs of the business community ahead of the needs of our children when they overrode the Governor’s veto of SB 372.  SB 372 is the school voucher program that will allow businesses to give “scholarships” to employee’s children to attend any school they choose.  This means that the property taxes you are paying for your local schools could be going to a private business in some other town.

So now what?  We need to work on repealing this bill and creating a better system to fund our local schools.  NH Governor candidate Ovide Lamontagne believes in the school vouchers.  In his statement he shows his excitement over the law being passed.

Statement from OVIDE 2012
Friends the legislature has overturned the Governor’s veto of SB 372, and the School Choice Scholarship Act is now law! Ovide’s statement: “Today’s veto override is a huge victory for commonsense education reform. As a former teacher and past Chairman of the State Board of Education, I know well that the surest path to success in life is an education. As such, it is imperative that a child’s opportunity for an exceptional education not be limited by financial well-being or determined by zip-code. As Governor, I will strongly promote this program as a part of comprehensive efforts to reform and improve the state’s education delivery system and enhance opportunities for all of our children.”

This alone is enough reason to vote against Ovide.

I would like to point out that this voucher program is targeted towards lower to moderate income families.  Do these Concord voucher advocates really think that people who are having trouble feeding their families are going to spend thousands of dollars even after receiving a voucher to send their children to a private school?  I do not think so.

This program is a complete sham.  The only people who are going to use it are the people who are currently sending their children to private schools or could have sent them without the voucher.  The rest of us who cannot afford to send our children to a private school or choose not to send our children to a private school are now going to lose vital funding for our public schools.  Year after year I watch as schools lose more and more because of a lack of funding.  Year after year I see my property taxes go up to cover the rising costs of education.

If Ovide was truly serious about improving out public education system in New Hampshire he would reject this voucher plan and work towards pushing more money to the public school system.   Stop taking money from my taxes and giving to private businesses and religious institutions I do not support.


Help Sustain the Governor’s veto of the voucher bill

An Education Update from Bill Duncan

As you may know by now, Governor Lynch vetoed SB 372, the education tax credit bill, shortly after my email yesterday.  Here is his full veto message in which he said:

“This bill shifts limited state funds away from public school districts, it will downshift the cost of reduced adequacy payments to local communities and property tax payers, it allows private organizations to determine the use of public education funds, and does not fully target scholarship funds to students most in need of help with tuition and other educational expenses. For all of these reasons, I have decided to veto this legislation.”

(You will see proponents of the bill highlight an error in the veto statement where Governor Lynch says, ” a substantial portion of scholarships are available with no income restrictions and to students already attending private school.” That was true until the last days when the bill went through yet another of its innumerable changes to gather sufficient support to pass.  The Governor’s staff must have read a draft from a day or two earlier than the final draft.)

We need to make the case to our Senators and Representatives on the phone as forcefully as we can that they should sustain the Governor’s veto.  You can check here for Representatives and here for Senators to see how your legislators voted.  Please call and urge them to vote to sustain the Governor’s veto of SB 372.

Here are some good arguments you can make at this stage:

SB 372 would send a lot of public money to private schools
The program starts small but could grow to have a major negative impact on public education in New Hampshire.

Public funding of private schools is unpopular
By a margin of 2 to 1, voters across the political spectrum, from Democrats to Republicans and conservatives reject spending public money to help students attend private schools.  (The Granite State Poll)

Many recipients have no need for the money.
It never occurred to home schoolers that the state would send them money to do their home schooling, but now the State would be pushing money on them.  Of course they will take it   More money will go to schools for students who are already in the school.  There is no public purpose to this.  

The legislature would be cutting funding on all fronts for New Hampshire public schools and sending it to private schools.  Don’t be fooled: this is public money.   Anyone can see that.

No quality control on the schools
SB 372 is a subsidy program for small religious schools.  That’s who testified for it and that’s who will benefit from it.  Leaving aside the constitutional question, that is not a legitimate purpose for scarce state funds.  

Opportunity for self dealing
Some avenues of self-dealing have been blocked, there is a great risk of self-dealing because there is no transparency in the program.  Scholarship organizations can use any method they want to allocate scholarships.  Anyone could set up an organization to direct scholarship money to selected Christian schools – possibly schools favored by legislators who would then support the program in the future. There would be no way to know if that happened because SB 372 has inadequate reporting and accountability.

Defending New Hampshire Public Education Is Shifting Gears

An Update From Bill Duncan
Defending New Hampshire Public Education

It’s time to begin shifting gears out of the legislative session mode and into…something else. Here’s my 5 point plan:

Stay alert until veto day, June 27

We still do not know whether the Governor will veto the voucher bill or whether the Speaker will try again to put an education funding amendment on the ballot. We’ll remain vigilant and communicate with you about it as needed.

I will continue to track the attack on public education nationally and in the state.

I’ll update www.dnhpe.org in the same way I have been and call your attention to those posts in periodic emails. I will include tracking of the national education debate in response to Gov. Romney’s voucher proposal, adding posts here. This will include what state-wide and local candidates have to say about education issues.

I will look for the longer term framework for continuing the public education advocacy DNHPE has been doing.

Depending on the election results, public education may not be so much on the defensive in the next Legislature. We will still need a citizen voice, though, advocating for public education in ways that compliment what teachers, administrators and school board members can do. We will continue to focus on state policy, but I will look for ways to connect with local school advocacy groups who want to work at the state level as well. If you are one of those groups or know one, let’s discuss that.

I am running for the Executive Council in District 3 [insert cheers here]

Here is my web site. It’s a work in progress, but at least it’s now up and running. I will not turn “Defenders” communications into campaign literature, but at this point I do not see a need to totally avoid mentioning my Executive Council race either. For instance, people need to know that the next Governor will make important education appointments and that, depending on who is elected, the Executive Council may need to ensure that we don’t get a creationist as Education Commissioner. I will write about that and other education issues both here and on my campaign web site.

 I will come to talk to any group, any time, any place

If you’re in my Executive Council district, obviously, I’ll want to talk about that in addition to education. But if you’re not, I am still glad to talk about education issues such as:
the national and state debate on dismantling public education,
what the candidates for Governor have to say about education issues,
the education record of your local incumbents and,
and how you can weigh in on the issue.

Let me know what you think!


CACR 12 Goes Down In Flames TWICE!!!

An update from Bill Duncan
Defending New Hampshire Public Education

Defenders, The Speaker this morning could find only 224 of the 237 votes he needed to pass CACR 12, the education funding amendment. He even engineered a (probably against the rules) second vote. Unheard of! But he got the same 224. These were considered opinions, unlikely to change based on House floor tactics.

Voting against were all Democrats but one, Rep. Peter Ramsey of Manchester, and 40 or so Republicans…probably all libertarians, though I don’t have the vote yet.

The Speaker and his team are still pouting at 3:30 Wednesday afternoon, trying to pass CACR 8, an even worse amendment that has never been to the Senate and would eliminate education funding – and education – in New Hampshire. More later on that if it come to anything.

For now, we are entitle to stop, take a breath and feel that the good guys won against the odds in this Legislature.



CACR 12 Goes Down in the NH HOUSE!

The people have spoken and our legislators have listened.  The New Hampshire House fails to pass CACR12 the education funding bill.  Many people have said that something needs to be done when it comes to education funding, but CACR 12 was not the answer.

The House took two votes on CACR12 and reconsideration the final vote was 224-141.

Kevin Landrigan tweeted “NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien blames Gov. Lynch for ed amendment loss; says gov failed to deliver enuf House Dems for it.” The speaker is quick to blame others loosing his outrageous power grab.  The people do not want Speaker O’Brien to have full control of the school funding and the cuts he made to the University school system and other budget cuts.

Congrats to all of the people who worked tirelessly to ensure that this detrimental bill never made it out of the house.  As a parent of three children who attend public schools, I thank you!

The fur is flying on education funding!

An Update on Education Funding and Amendments
From Bill Duncan

Defending New Hampshire Public Educatioin

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the House will vote on CACR 12, along with many other important issues. But the education funding amendment is the biggest debate the State has seen for…a very long time. So you need to weigh in. Call your representatives and be sure your voice is heard.

There’s a secret power in actually making that call to your representatives: you might not realize it, but your representatives get very few calls from constituents, on any issue, any time! If you actually call, even if you have to leave a message, you will let them know how important this issue is to you and you will have an impact far disproportionate to the effort.

CACR 12 will pass or fail on just a very few votes. You could make the difference. Our kids will thank you!

Here is the state of the debate this morning.

Virtually all Democrats will vote against the amendment

Even those who feel that something needs to be done and have supported education funding amendments in the past feel this is a terrible amendment and needs to be defeated. Rep. David Campbell, from Nashua, has campaigned for previous versions but is against this. Rep. Gary Richardson’s opposition, in the Concord Monitor Sunday, was in the Portsmouth Herald today.

But if you read nothing else, read “A New Direction,” an opinion piece that Rep. Randy Foose, from New London, wrote for his local paper, the Intertown Record. Everyone wonders why Governor Lynch supports this terrible amendment. Rep. Foose, who would support the right kind of amendment, addresses the Governor directly, saying, “Eight years ago a new Representative and a new Governor arrived in Concord to begin their service to the State,” and goes on to explain why he differs from the Governor and sees the need for a new direction. It’s beautiful.

And be sure to see Kathy Sullivan’s piece, “You cannot trust this Legislature with your kids’ education,” in today’s Union Leader.

The battle is on the Republican side

Proponents of the amendment are speaking as directly as they know how to the local control concerns of the House libertarian caucus, but in a cranky non-persuasive way. They say the libertarians are deluded – we never had local control here in New Hampshire (the only state in which local school districts are virtually autonomous – DOE persuades, does not command, them).

Here is the statement of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire opposing the amendment and another from the Free State end of things. The responses take the form of the House leadership statement I sent out Sunday and this, “The Myth of Local Control,” and this in the UL yesterday (pulling out all the stops). But, most interesting is this snarky response from House Legal Council Ed Mosca, featured by UL editor, Drew Cline, on his blog, under the headline, “Ed Mosca destroys RLCNH argument on ed funding amendment.” The RLCNH responds with, “RLCNH Obliterates Attorney Ed Mosca’s Response on CACR 12.” You can see more of the heated exchange on this Facebook page, teed up by Canterbury Rep. Seth Cohn, who would be the House liberty caucus Speaker, if there were one.

Speaker O’Brien has issued black powder muskets and tri-corner hats to all CACR 12 proponents, but I don’t think it will work.

Make your calls…it’ll be fun!

Let’s Not Make Education Funding a Political Football!


Let’s Not Make Education Funding a Political Football!
June 1, 2012

It is again time to take an important action. Please let your State Representative(s) and Senator know how you feel about CACR 12—constitutional amendment to undo education funding per the “Claremont Decision”. Both chambers will be voting on Wednesday, June 6th and we need you to ask them to vote NO.

It is ill advised to place this proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Slick slogans that sound appealing will cover up the fact that this is meant to do nothing more than cut funding for our schools. We will go back to the days when education funding was a mere political football. Please take action now.

If this passes both chambers and is approved by the voters in November, we will see less money from the state to fund education. When this occurs your local school district will have to make very difficult decisions, raise property taxes to keep the same level of programming or cut programs and layoff staff.

We have come a long way since the Claremont Decision. We cherish public education in NH.  We know the first pot of money that a legislature would raid in trying to make spending cuts would be from education.

The agenda of the extremists for the past two years has been to divert much needed money away from our public schools. On a side note, all of the committee members said they wanted this amendment in order to promote alternatives to public schools. This statement just reinforces that their agenda for the past two years has been to divert much needed money away from our public schools.

Please contact your senator and state representative(s) with this one click action now

For late breaking news and all updates, please visit AFT-NH on Facebook and “like us!

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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