This is the first of what will be a series of updates concerned with what I feel is a frontal assault on public education legislation in this legislative session. See my message at the end if you do not want to receive these.
The headline of this update has to be yesterday's override of HB 542 which gives each parent a veto over the child's curriculum. The Legislature has embarrassed itself, but this is just the beginning of the anti-public education legislation we will see this year. Here are two links: My Blue Hampshire post about it, and the DNHPE page on this bill. We'll do a more thorough look at the impact soon.
Here's the front page on our new web site, Defending New Hampshire Public Education, which tracks education issues in the New Hampshire Legislature. This page gives an overview of the issue and what the site hopes to do. Feedback welcome. To draw as many interested people as possible, you could put thewww.dnhpe.org link in your emails and letters to the editor.
You will see many bills of concern on the site, but the Education Tax Credit program is the one of greatest concern at the moment because it is so poorly conceived. It gives scholarships (vouchers, really) to New Hampshire children to go to private schools, funded by tax credits against the New Hampshire Business Profits tax. Here is our basic write up on it. There's a long cost discussion with it, here, that you should really try to digest.
There are lots of legislative committee hearings coming up quickly, listed here, if you scroll down the front page. The first one on the ETC bill is on January 24 at 1:00pm. That would be a great one to attend. But if you have another burning issue, any of them public hearings would be worth attending.
The voucher proposal is part of a frontal assault that would replace New Hampshire's public schools with private, religious and home schools. How anti-public school (or supportive) is your legislator? See your legislator's score here.
Finally, I would just urge you to take your legislator to lunch! There is a hard core of Tea Party libertarian legislators driving this anti-public education legislation and most of them seem to refuse to talk with anyone with whom they don't already agree. It's worth trying anyway. They often see this as a parental rights issue, which is worth understanding as we debate all this. Others are more like normal Republicans we've all worked with on everything from town cleanup to state and federal policy. They may be paying attention to other issues and just be going along with leadership on education issues without fully understanding them. If you understand the issue well enough, they may get a new perspective from you. Most of the Democrats seem to be voting against the anti-public education legislation already.