Docket OTP in the education committee
On Wednesday, March 7th, the New Hampshire House will vote on CACR 8, a truly odious anti-education constitutional amendment. It failed to get the 239 votes needed on January 5th this year but has been brought back for another try and there is a risk that it could pass this time. This is a message to ask you to make phone calls to legislators - your own, but others as well - to try to nail down votes against the amendment.
The proposed amendment
CACR 8 goes much further than CACR 12 in eliminating any State obligation to assist in funding public education. It says that the school district is entirely responsible to provide its own funding, though the legislature may, at its discretion, supplement that. It goes on to provide for state support of religious schools, exempting only explicit religious instruction.
In this one radical proposal, the Legislature would establish full legislative power over schools in New Hampshire, establish religious schools as legitimate recipients of public funding, make public schools entirely responsible for their own funding, and allow the Legislature to fund any school, including religious schools, or fund no school, at its sole discretion.
Here it is, edited for readability:
"...the people of this State.... do hereby fully empower the Legislature to authorize....the public schools in the political subdivisions for public education and charter schools..."
This proposal would legitimize legislative power and public funding of private and religious schools. It makes the funding of public education optional. It would undercut the inevitable legal challenge to the proposed voucher bill.
SPONSORS: Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5; Rep. Comerford, Rock 9; Rep. Mirski, Graf 10; Rep. Sorg, Graf 3; Sen. Barnes, Jr., Dist 17
This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution provides that the legislature shall have the power to authorize schools.
From the amendment:
"The several political subdivisions for public education, charter schools, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies shall make adequate provision at their own expense for their schools, provided that the Legislature may supplement that provision in the manner and degree that the Legislature finds most beneficial to the general good. "
From 2011 House Record 70:
CACR 8, relating to education. Providing that the legislature shall have the power to authorize schools.
MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Michael A Balboni for the Majority of Education: CACR 8 restores the people’s right to local control of education and the authority of the legislature in education and education funding. In 1968, NH ballots included Question No. 3, a proposed Constitutional amendment which read: “Are you in favor of amending Article 6 of Part I of the Constitution so as to strike out certain specific sectarian references ….” The ballot question included this summary of the original Article 6: “Article 6 authorizes local public taxation for the support of ‘Protestant’ clergymen only, and promises equal protection of the law solely to ‘every denomination of Christians’.” The ballot question provided voters with the following explanation of the effect of the proposed amendment: “If the amendment is adopted, … the above-described sectarian references will be stricken from the state constitution, putting all religious denominations on a basis of equality and removing the present conflict with the U.S. Constitution.” Though the voters were told that only the sectarian references were to be removed, the actual amendment language went far beyond this. The amendment also removed and altered several non-religious phrases in the Article, and these changes were not explained to the voters. CACR 8 would give the people the opportunity to restore to their Constitution the non-religious aspects that were removed in 1968. These restorations include the following: the purpose of education as being to teach the fundamental principles of the Constitution so that the people are better able to control their government; empowering the legislature to authorized schools, to create and regulate public schools; providing school districts the exclusive control over the selection of their teachers and their compensation; the school districts control over curriculum which is inherent in the original Article’s exclusive control over the selection of teachers; and each school district’s responsibility as the first payers of education expense consistent with the exclusive control over teacher selection and compensation and curriculum selection. CACR 8 then proposes two further changes: it ratifies judicial opinions which enable the state to pay for non-religious education at religious schools; and it clarifies the legislature's power to supplement local funding of public education. The first change makes clearly and permanently constitutional the state's current practices such as funding the non-religious education component for special needs students as required, for example, under federal special ed regulations, and the giving of scholarships to nursing students for the non-religious part of their education at religious schools. The second part ensures that the state funding of education will be consistent with the coordinating Articles of the Constitution of New Hampshire, specifically Part I, Articles 12, 28 and 29 and Part II, Articles 2 and 5 which make the legislature the supreme policy body of the state, and the only body capable of determining state spending. CACR 8 can be summed up as restoring the local control of education and the authority of the legislature in regard to education and education funding; thereby returning the people firmly in control of public education.Vote 10-5.
Rep. June M Frazer for the Minority of Education: Objection 1. State funding of Education. Article 6 states that the parishes, et al, “have the right of . . . contracting with them [their teachers] for their support or maintenance, or both.” It does not say that the parishes, et al, have the sole obligation for support or maintenance of their teachers. The amendment to this passage – adding the word “exclusive” before “the right” – takes the state completely out of funding for support and maintenance of teachers. A further amendment statement nails this down and expands “support and maintenance” of teachers to support and maintenance of “schools”: “”The several political subdivisions for public education, charter schools, parishes, bodies corporate, shall make adequate provision at their own expense [emphasis mine], for their schools, provided that the legislature may [emphasis mine] supplement that provision in the manner and degree that the Legislature finds most beneficial to the general good. This amendment takes away all obligation for the state to fund public education. Objection 2. State support of religious schools. The second-to-last sentence of Article 6 states that “no person shall ever be compelled to pay toward the schools of any sect or denomination.” In deleting the word “schools’ and substituting the words ”religious education,” the amendment opens the door to public funding of religious schools, which the constitution emphatically states that no person (i.e., taxpayer) should ever have to do. This amendment allows for state funding of religious schools.