State’s Advisory Council on Education and Advanced Manufacturing Endorse Common Core Standards

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CONCORD – As part of ongoing efforts to ensure that New Hampshire students are ready for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st century economy, the Advanced Manufacturing Educational Advisory Council has unanimously endorsed the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

The unanimous vote took place at the group’s regularly scheduled January meeting.

“Business leaders tell their representatives that they are challenged to find workers with the skills necessary for advanced manufacturing,” State Senator Molly Kelly, Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Educational Advisory Council. “We need to be responsive to those needs while also supporting our local schools districts that want to adopt and implement the most rigorous standards possible.”

A state-based series of math and language arts standards, the Common Core is designed to help New Hampshire’s young people develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in careers and higher education.

“I am a strong supporter of such standards,” Barbara Couch, vice president at Hanover-based Hypertherm, Inc., and member of the Advanced Manufacturing Educational Advisory Council said in a statement. “The Common Core standards empower teachers to do what they do best by allowing them to discover and create optimal teaching tools and methods and encourage the sharing of best practices across all school systems.”

A state-based effort embraced by the New Hampshire Board of Education in 2010, the Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

“New Hampshire is instruction based on these standards so our students can reach even greater depths of knowledge and understanding and be even more empowered when they enter college or careers,” said Mark Conrad, superintendent of the Nashua Schools and member of the Advanced Manufacturing Educational Advisory Council.

About the Advanced Manufacturing Educational Advisory Council

The New Hampshire General Court passed legislation in 2008 creating the Advanced Manufacturing Education Advisory Council. Members include lawmakers, manufacturers, and educators who focused their work on the charge of the council: “to advise the Department of Education in the implementation, evaluation, and expansion of the advanced manufacturing curriculum, to assist the Department of Education in pursuing public and private funds in order to ensure statewide access for all public high school students to advanced manufacturing curriculum coursework.”

For more information, visit: http://www.education.nh.gov/career/career/manufacturing_council.htm

About manufacturing in New Hampshire:

Manufacturing is the largest sector of the New Hampshire economy, accounting for 15 percent of the jobs and nearly a third of the contribution to the gross product of the state’s export-based industries. One in eight jobs are in advanced manufacturing and since 2003, New Hampshire manufacturing exports rose nearly six times as fast as the state’s overall economy.

Grassroots and Dark Money Groups Building Media Campaign for Right to Work in PA

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Written by Sean Kitchen on the Raging Chicken Press

The never-ending push for Right to Work (for less) legislation in Pennsylvania is on the move again, but this time there’s more of a tangible campaign targeting the conservative base.  For 14 straight years, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe has introduced some form of Right to Work legislation, but this year’s legislation was introduced by State Representative Bryan Cutler (Lancaster, PA).  Last January, Jen Stefano from the Koch Brothers funded American’s for Prosperity in Pennsylvania held a press conference with Representative Metcalfe and announced that the legislation will become law.  Currently, it appears that dark money groups tied to right wing think tanks like The Franklin Center and Greenhouse Solutions are teaming up with a conservative activist from Southeastern Pennsylvania, and are astroturfing a social media and media campaign by using Facebook and Twitter accounts to push anti-union news and rhetoric from “independent” media outlets.

The players in this story are Simon Campbell – a conservative grassroots activist from Yardley, PA,  dark money think tanks, and astro-turfed media and social media outlets.  Simon Campbell is a local conservative activist from Bucks County PA.  He jumped on the scene in 2005 when he was elected to the Pennsbury School District.  The cause-celeb he ran on was a teacher bashing and anti-teacher strike platform.  While sitting on the Pennsbury School Board, Campbell started Stop Teachers Strike.  In 2013, Campbell’s four year term on the local school board was up and he and his colleagues were sept off board.   Weeks after the election, Campbell founded a 501.4(c) organization called Pennsylvanians For Union Reform, and thanks to his non-profit social welfare status, Campbell’s group is able to receive a whole lot of dark money.  Campbell’s resume as a right-wing activist has him giving speeches at luncheons or sitting on training sessions at Koch funded think-tanks like the statewide Commonwealth Foundation and Americans for Prosperity.

Then there’s a growing social media campaign. It appears that Campbell has been running a Pennsylvanians for Union Reform facebook page since June 2013, and has amassed over 20,000 followers.  That’s either one hell of a grassroots campaign or Campbell’s group has a few thousand sitting aside for social media promotion.   Then the page regularly posts stories from Pennsylvania media outlets that deal with union issues, but the majority of the posts come from two “independent” media outlets, Media Trackers and Watchdog Wire.  Out of the two media outlets, Media Trackers is more savvy when it comes to hiding their funding sources and who is actually writing their articles.  According to their website, Media Trackers describes itself as follows:

Media Trackers is dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism. Our site examines stories published in the mainstream media, explores claims made by some of the more partisan political groups, and provides the facts on the issues, people and elections that matter.

A 2012 Mother Jones article described Media Trackers as:

Conservatives have their think tanks, dozens of them at the state and national level. They also have a corporate-funded legislation mill in the American Legislative Exchange Council. What conservatives lacked, Ryun told the donors, were nimble attack blogs that could quickly capitalize on the latest missteps by big-government politicians or the “liberal” media—essentially hard-hitting, opposition-research-style shops that prize scoops, speed, and scandal over policy briefs and press conferences. His pitch: Create a network of one- and two-man digital media outlets with low overhead, rapid response, and a nose for controversy.

The donors loved it. They ponied up seed money in the low six figures, and Ryun’s conservative attack machine, Media Trackers, was born. Bonus: As a nonprofit, Media Trackers can keep the identities of those donors secret.

To obtain their non-profit status, Media Trackers changed their name to Greenhouse Solutions during the2013 IRS scandal, claiming that a liberal sounding name will ease the process.  When looking for Media Trackers’ journalists or blog staff, some of their writers were from the Heartland Institute,  a Rick Perry adviser, and a former journalist with the Washington Examiner.

The second fake independent media outlet involved in this campaign is Watchdog Wire, whose twitter account describes it as a “project of the Franklin Institute.”  Watchdog Wire’s media outlet is ran by the Franklin Center’s communications department.  Under the Franklin Center’s staff page, it lists Watchdog Wire’s staff.  The Franklin Center also has ties to two Pennsylvania groups, the Commonwealth Foundation, a right winged think-tank, and the Pennsylvania Independent, one of those “independent media” outlets.  Sourcewatch describes The Franklin Center’s ties to statewide think-tanks like the Commonwealth Foundation:

Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center’s funding “is 100 percent anonymous.” But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large “donor-advised fund,” cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin’s Internal Revenue Service records).[18] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” in a February 2013 article.[19]Franklin received DonorTrust’s second-largest donation in 2011.[18]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[20] a conservative grant-making organization.[21]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[22] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[23] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[24] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[25] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

What we are witnessing are the cogs turning in the right-wing infrastructure gearing up for an attack on public sector workers in 2014.  There has been a quiet 14-year movement to make Right to Work a possibility in Pennsylvania, and now the volume is being ratcheted up a few notches.  We are witnessing a “grassroots,” social welfare, non-profit group that has the potential to collect dark money run a social media campaign that is pushing for one issue; screwing workers’ rights.  The social media campaign, run by Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, is constantly pushing anti-union rhetoric from dark money dominated non-profit media outlet, like Media Trackers, or the Koch Brother funded, Franklin Center’s communication’s department at Watchdog Wire.  This is how the right wing infrastructure, with all their minions, all their think tanks and all their communications departments are going to try to undercut labor laws in Pennsylvania just like they did in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida in 2011.

 

Get this: Privatizers see the Common Core as a Distraction from school choice!

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I always consider policy discussions about privatization – proposals to dismantle public education and replace it with charters, vouchers and home schools  - a distraction from the real project of making our public schools the best in the world.  But anti-Common Core activists have the gall to see the work needed to move our schools forward - like increasing expectations by instituting higher standards like the Common Core - as a distraction from their privatization goal!

Just think about that.

New Hampshire’s anti-Common Core activists express these very views (a point I first made here) but the American Principles Project further fleshed out this manifesto on its blog a couple of days ago.  Here’s an excerpt:

American Principles Project has been an advocate for school choice since our inception.  We have been alarmed how the Common Core State Standards  has been an intrusion for private schools and even homeschoolers.  In principle we desire greater choice in education as parents should have sovereignty over how their children learn.  The Common Core diminishes parental choice as they are confronted by “common standards” at every turn.  Robert Holland of The Heartland Institute gave a dire warning last month saying that the Common Core would cripple school choice.

Ultimately, disempowerment may be the main reason for parental angst. Unless it is stopped, Common Core will deliver a devastating blow to parental choice at all levels. The one, limited power possessed by most public-school parents is the ability to seek change at the local school board. Unfortunately, the corporate and foundation-funded sponsors of CCSS copyrighted the standards and set up no process for local amendment.

The greatest leverage for parents comes when they can use vouchers or tax-credit scholarships to transfer their children to private or parochial schools. But even in a state with as strong a voucher program as Indiana, the government requires schools accepting voucher students to administer the official test, which has opened the door wide to CCSS-style assessment. Thus will governmental creep dilute the liberating effect of school choice.

Nor will homeschooling parents be exempt if CCSS stands, because many states also require home educators to administer the official test. Even more insidious, Common Core lead writer David Coleman (formerly a testing consultant) now heads the College Board and has vowed to align the SAT with the nationalized standards. Thus any student—whether from public, private, parochial, or home school—will have to be Common Core-acclimated.

….

via Common Core Is a Distraction From School Choice.

So there you have it.  The privatizers see the Common Core as a threat to their goal of dismantling American public education.  Naturally.

Are the Common Core math standards “developmentally appropriate” for Kindergarteners?

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Are the Common Core math standards “developmentally appropriate” for Kindergarteners? It depends, as always, on who’s teaching.

Opponents say that the Common Core standards, especially the math standards, are not developmentally appropriate for Kindergarteners.

But many New Hampshire Kindergarten and early grade teachers are using the math standards successfully.  When I ask, they say that Kindergarteners can definitely achieve the goals set out in the standards, under the right conditions.  One condition is that the child is prepared – meaning that she’s attended high quality pre-K or her parents have provided a rich environment full of words and numbers.

The second requirement is that she must have access to full day kindergarten.  We know that frequently is not the case, particularly for low income students.  But it appears that, at least partly, it’s about preparation, not something inherent in a five year-old’s stage of development.  So a state’s early childhood development policies are the issue, not really the Common Core or any other standard.

“But,” many say, “5 year olds need to play and discover together.  They need social and emotional development, not academic instruction.”  This is not really a Common Core issue either.  It is a long-running debate that predates the Common Core and will probably go on for a long time.  Some schools, including many Montessori and Waldorf schools, are better at combining play and learning than others.  And some teachers are.  So there’s real pedagogy involved.  But it doesn’t appear to be an issue of what a 5 year-old is developmentally prepared to do.

 

Here’s a typical post from a Common Core opponent – blogger Anthony Cody, in this case – saying that the goals the standards set for Kindergarteners are inappropriate”

Error #2: The Common Core Standards violate what we know about how children develop and grow.

One of the problems with the blinkered development process described above is that no experts on early childhood were included in the drafting or internal review of the Common Core.

In response to the Common Core, more than 500 experts signed the Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative. This statement now seems prophetic in light of what is happening in classrooms. The key concerns they raised were:

1.            Such standards will lead to long hours of instruction in literacy and math.
2.            They will lead to inappropriate standardized testing
3.            Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other important areas of learning.
4.            There is little evidence that such standards for young children lead to later success.

Many states are now developing standards and tests for children in kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade, to “prepare” them for the Common Core. Early childhood education experts agree that this is developmentally inappropriate. Young children do not need to be subjected to standardized tests. Just recently, the parents of a k-2 school refused to allow their children to be tested. They were right to do so.

Mr. Cody makes a common mistake here, confusing the Common Core with the way certain states implement it.  In New York, a state with among the worst education policies in the country, all the bad things he enumerates do happen – but they would happen with or without the Common Core.

In fact, if you are willing to risk depression, watch the video posted here showing a NY teacher drilling disengaged Kindergartners in counting.  And this is presented as a model by engageNY.org, the official  New York State Education Department website set up to support the state’s education reform agenda.

Notice that the blogger makes the same mistake Mr. Cody does – he attributes this offensive teaching strategy to the Common Core when it’s actually the result of New York’s dishearteningly misguided public education policy.

People concerned about the importance of play and discovery for young children refer to studies like these to make the case that the Common Core standards are inappropriate, but clearly what’s appropriate is a matter of how it’s taught.

I asked a young NY mom the other day whether her four year-old’s private school – known for its commitment to play, discovery and development of “the whole child” – would consider this sample Kindergarten math standard developmentally appropriate:

“Count to 100 by ones and by tens.”

She didn’t know for sure but emailed me a couple of days later, saying,

“Jason[a pseudonym] and his classmates decided yesterday to measure the length of their classroom. They are using small colored cubes like the ones we have at home, and they laid out several hundred of them in a line across the floor.  Their job today is counting them.

So take a guess what sign showed up on the wall this morning to facilitate the counting – a chart with numbers from 1 to 50 and then numbers by 10s to 100 after that…

So there you have it – teaching to the Common Core math standard by mind-numbing drill or by mind-expanding discovery.  And within a few feet of each other!

Mr. Cody and Mr. Cerrone are not alone in making this obvious error.  Most Common Core opponents do it: show bad teaching or kids under stress from NY or somewhere else and attribute it to the new standards.

Why would they do this?  Because they are using the issue as a political tool to scare parents about the Common Core rather than actually engaging in the early childhood development debate about what’s best for kids.

A commentator concerned about the issue instead of using it to make a political point would approach the question entirely differently.  Here is Daniel Willingham talking about whether a particular approach to teaching is appropriate for first graders.

…you can’t always wait until children are “ready.” Think about mathematics. Children are born understanding numerosity, but they understand it on a logarithmic scale–the difference between five and ten is larger than the difference between 70 and 75. To understand elementary mathematics they must learn to think of numbers of a linear scale. In this case, teachers have toundo Nature. And if you wait until the child is “developmentally ready” to understand numbers this way, you’ll never teach them mathematics. It will never happen.

In sum, I don’t think developmental psychology is a good guide to what children should learn; it provides some help in thinking about how children learn. The best guide to “what” is what children know now, and where you want their learning to head.

Dr. Willingham is not in some political fox hole lobbing out whatever ammunition he has to defeat the new standards that must be bad because Bill Gates supports them.  He’s just trying to figure out the best way to help kids learn.  Mr. Cody and Mr. Cerrone should come out of their fox holes and learn from Dr. Willingham.

Reposted from ANHPE Blog

AFT-NH Takes Pledge To Reclaim The Promise Of Public Education

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AFT-NH Board of Directors took the pledge to
RECLAIM THE PROMISE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

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Public education is under assault, and decades of top-down edicts, mass school closures, privatization, and test fixation with sanctions instead of support haven’t moved the needle in the right direction.

It’s time to reclaim the promise of public education—not as it is today or as it was in the past, but as it can be—to fulfill our collective obligation to help all children succeed. Together, we will ensure that all children have the opportunity to dream their dreams and achieve them. We will put the public back into public education. We will help our public schools become centers of their communities, secure a voice and respect for those closest to the classroom, and fulfill public education’s purpose as a propeller of our economy, an anchor of democracy and a gateway to racial, social and economic justice.

The AFT-NH Board of Directors asks that you take the pledge with us and Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.

Lastly, please pass this along to your co-workers, family members and friends. Post it on your Facebook page and send it out on your twitter account. We must spread the word that it is time to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.

If you have any questions I can be reached at 603-661-7293 or at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

The PISA Results Are In So What Does That Mean? AFT Explains

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Today the mainstream media was quick to jump on the PISA school rankings. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a ranking of schools worldwide that occurs every three years.

The results are clear, what we are doing in the United States is not working.  The current political agenda to attack teachers, slash budgets, and starve our public schools is actually moving us backwards.

Everyone knows and understands that we need to make changes in our schools.  The key is how we make those changes. What changes are truly going to help our children learn and grow?

The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, released the following statement after the results we announced.

“Today’s PISA results drive home what has become abundantly clear: While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top—focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools—has failed to improve the quality of American public education. Sadly, our nation has ignored the lessons from the high-performing nations. These countries deeply respect public education, work to ensure that teachers are well-prepared and well-supported, and provide students not just with standards but with tools to meet them—such as ensuring a robust curriculum, addressing equity issues so children with the most needs get the most resources, and increasing parental involvement. None of the top-tier countries, nor any of those that have made great leaps in student performance, like Poland and Germany, has a fixation on testing like the United States does.

“The crucial question we face now is whether we have the political will to move away from the failed policies and embrace what works in high-performing countries so that we can reclaim the promise of public education.”

After the 2009 PISA report, Weingarten visited the top-performing nations of Japan, China, Singapore, Finland, Canada and Brazil to talk with teachers, principals, students and government officials about what makes their systems work for students, teachers and parents. Many of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s recommendations informed the AFT’s Quality Education Agenda and its Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education  principles.

AFT also released a short five-minute video that explains how we can learn from the PISA results.  The results show that we need to be supporting our teachers and creating an environment of mutual collaboration with our teachers unions.

We also need to look deeply at two of the major factors impacting our schools. The poverty level of the students, and the continual budget cuts that are starving our schools.

While pundits on the right say we are overpaying for our children’s education the truth is far from that.  We also fall far behind many of the other countries in funding for schools in impoverished areas.

See what the facts are behind the media headlines in the PISA results.

Read more on how we are ‘starving our public schools’ and AFT’s plan to ‘Reclaim the Promise’ of public education.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Introduces Bill To Help Teachers

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CSP Official PhotoToday, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) introduced the Reimburse Educators Who Pay for Academic Year Supplies Act of 2013, or REPAY Supplies Act. The bill would help teachers who pay for educational supplies out of their own pockets.

“Teachers come to school early, stay late, and give up their own time and money,” Shea-Porter said. “Due to budget cuts, teachers are now forced to dig deeper into their own pockets for necessary supplies. This legislation mitigates the financial sacrifices they make on behalf of their students and their communities.”

The REPAY Supplies Act would permanently extend the Classroom Expense Deduction, a $250 deduction offered to teachers who pay out of their own pockets for educational supplies. The popular above-the-line deduction is available to all teachers, regardless of whether they itemize their taxes.

The legislation comes in response to a letter Shea-Porter received from Dr. Margaret Morse-Barry, a Derry educator who, over the summer, urged Shea-Porter to look into extending the expiring tax credit.

“Educators often reach into our own pockets to purchase classroom supplies because we want to make sure students have what they need to succeed,” said Dr. Morse-Barry. “The introduction of this legislation makes us feel appreciated; like someone in Washington is listening.”

Local, state, and federal budget cuts have hit many teachers and school districts hard. Without passage of the REPAY Supplies Act of 2013, the deduction will expire at the end of December.

“When I heard from Dr. Morse-Barry, I knew this had to be fixed, so I’m pleased to introduce this legislation,” Shea-Porter added.

Shea-Porter’s legislation has been endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT),  NEA–New Hampshire Chapter, AFT–New Hampshire Chapter, and New Hampshire School Administrators Association.

Click here for full text of the bill.

When can we stop adding teachers’ names to this list?

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Sunrise over Shiloh National Cemetery

To the family of Michael Landsberry… and to all teachers across the United States…

Our hearts are with you tonight.  We grieve with you.  We long for the day when our nation’s schools can truly be “the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow.”

It has been barely 10 months since Sandy Hook.  Since then, almost 28,000 Americans — including hundreds of children — have been killed by guns.

We are heartbroken that another teacher’s name has been added to that tally.

 

BIA supports Common Core standards

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BIA LogoCONCORD, N.H. – Oct. 16, 2013 – The Business and Industry Association – New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate – announced its support for the Common Core State Standards. The BIA board of directors voted unanimously to support the more rigorous educational standards at a recent board retreat.

The Common Core is a state-led effort that establishes a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in mathematics and English language arts. The standards are designed to ensure high-school graduates are prepared to enter associate or bachelor’s degree programs or enter the workforce. They are clear and concise to ensure parents, teachers and students clearly understand student expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and mathematics. States voluntarily adopt the standards, and 48 states, including New Hampshire, the District of Columbia and two territories have adopted them.

“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn and are robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that students will need for success in college and careers,” said BIA President Jim Roche.

“BIA is in the final stages of completing a strategic economic plan for New Hampshire and educating our state’s emerging workforce plays a key role in our future economic prosperity,” continued Roche. “The focus on math and related skills that are a part of the Common Core complements the focus on increased STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education called for the strategic economic plan, which will be released in November.”

The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core, which also incorporated input from teachers, parents, school administrators and business leaders from across the country. New Hampshire’s state board of education adopted the standards in 2010 and school boards across the state are now reviewing and approving the standards for their districts.

“A robust advanced manufacturing and high technology sector is critical to New Hampshire’s future economic success,” said Roche. “BIAbelieves the Common Core is an important part of ensuring our future workforce has the education and skills necessary to fill these high-paying, challenging jobs.”

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About the BIA: The Business and Industry Association is New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate. The BIA represents more than 400 members in a variety of industries, including advanced manufacturing, high technology, professional services, financial services, health care, hospitality and tourism, public utilities, higher education and insurance. Member firms employ 86,000 people throughout the state and contribute $4.5 billion annually to the state’s economy. Through advocacy with state legislators and regulators, the BIA works to promote a healthy business climate and robust economic future for New Hampshire.

The BIA’s 2013 public policy priorities include: preserving the New Hampshire Advantage through  support of fiscally conservative state budgets with a business-friendly regulatory and tax structure; supporting business tax policies that foster economic growth; supporting infrastructure development; supporting efforts to increase the availability and affordability of housing for working people; supporting pro-business labor rules and regulations that consider the rights and responsibilities of workers and management; supporting efforts that enhance outcomes and reduce/slow the growth of total healthcare costs for employers and the state; supporting efforts to develop New Hampshire’s future workforce; working towards mitigating the long- and short-term costs of energy; supporting efforts to reform the state’s telecommunications regulations to ensure fairness and equal competition among all service providers; and supporting environmental policies, legislation and administrative rules that balance economic development with the long-term viability of the state’s natural resources through a collaborative process. For more information about the BIA, visit http://www.biaofnh.com/.

AFT-NH Updates Us On Retirement Law Suit

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aft sqaureCurrently the NH Retirement Security Coalition, which AFT-NH is part of,  is under litigation in 3 suits dealing with significant changes made to the NH Retirement System from 2007-2012. These are referred to here as the AFT Case, the NH3 Case and the NH4 Case and are explained below:
AFT Case: This case challenges the changes in the pension law made by HB 1645 in 2008, specifically (1) Changes to the definition of “earnable compensation”, which is cash in lieu of health insurance and clothing allowances, and (2) the elimination of COLAs and the change in the funding mechanism of the Special Account, which was designed to fund COLAs, as well as the transfer of $250 million in funds out of the Special Account to suppress employer rates.

  • Rulings: Judge McNamara has ruled it is unconstitutional for the definition of earnable compensation to have changed for members with 10 or more years of service at the time of the changes, but denied the COLA claims.
  • Current Status: The state has appealed the ruling to the NH Supreme Court and we filed a motion to dismiss the state’s appeal, and filed a motion to reconsider. The Supreme Court has granted our motion to dismiss.
  • Next Steps: We await a ruling from McNamara on our motion to reconsider.

NH3: This case deals with the 2-2.5% rate increase across all current and future members that took place July 1, 2011 as a result of Senate Bill 3, which became part of HB2. Rates for Group I members went from 5% to 7%, Group II Police from 9.3% to 11.55%, and Group II Fire from 9.3% to 11.8%.

  • Rulings: Judge McNamara again ruled that it is unconstitutional for employee rates to increase for members with 10 or more years of service at the time of the changes, as it is a substantial impairment of vested rights.
  • Current Status: The state is likely to appeal as its definition of vesting is that it occurs only at retirement. We are ready to appeal to the Supreme Court that vesting occurs after attainment of permanent employment status.
  • Next Steps: Appeals must be filed by Oct. 16th.

NH4: This case deals with all of the other benefit changes that took place in HB2 in 2011 (most went into effect 1/1/12). These include: changes to earnable compensation for members with fewer than 10 years of service, increasing average final compensation from 3 to 5 years, the lowered limit on the maximum initial pension benefit for members with fewer than 10 years of service, the increased Group II normal retirement age with reduced multiplier, and repeal of the Group II accidental disability retiree exception to the gainful occupation reduction.

  • Rulings: Judge Gillian Abramson ruled in our favor regarding vesting, agreeing it occurs after attainment of permanent employment status.
  • Current Status: Abramson has stayed further proceedings until McNamara’s ruling on our motion to reconsider in the AFT case.
  • Next Steps: We are working to get this case to a final hearing.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President