NEA-NH Welcomes the Reappointment of Commissioner Barry
Scott McGilvray, President of NEA-New Hampshire, the state's largest union, praised Governor Hassan's reappointment of Dr. Virginia Barry as Commissioner of Education this morning.
"We welcome the reappointment of Dr. Barry as Commissioner. Dr. Barry is a dedicated advocate for the students of New Hampshire and a committed partner," commented McGilvray.
"We became educators because we care deeply about our children's future and are committed to the success of every child. We are pleased to be able to continue working with Dr. Barry keeping students at the center of the state's education reform efforts."
March 6, 2013
NHREA Announces Annual Scholarships
The New Hampshire Retired Educators Association offers two $1500 awards annually to graduates of New Hampshire secondary schools. Applicants must be pursuing a course of study leading to teacher certification and in their junior year of a four-year program, or in their senior year of a five-year program at an accredited college or university.
The Irene W. Hart Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a New Hampshire student who is completing their course of studies at an accredited New Hampshire college or university. The award is named in honor of a Concord, NH high school English teacher who passed away in 1995 at the age of 98. She devoted many years of her life to educational and professional causes. Her untiring and exceptional efforts for the education profession are recognized each year in the awarding of the NHREA scholarship that bears her name.
The NHREA Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a New Hampshire student completing their course of study at a non-New Hampshire accredited college or university. This award is a tribute to the many retired and dedicated educators who provided, and continue to provide, education to the children of New Hampshire. NHREA hopes to encourage students in their desire to teach. Applications are due by May 1 of each year. Forms may be obtained online at the NEA-NH website, from retired NH educators, local associations and by writing to NHREA Applications c/o NEA-NH, 9 South Spring Street, Concord, NH 03301 to request a copy.
Clicking here brings you to the NEA Press Release Center - a listing of the most recent press releases from the NEA in Washington.
CACR12 Wrong for New Hampshire's Schoolchildren
Commenting on today's announcement of an agreement on the wording of a constitutional amendment regarding school funding, Rhonda Wesolowski, NEA-NH President said, "We do not believe that CACR 12 serves the best interests of the children of New Hampshire. Schoolchildren lose when politicians play favorites and that is exactly what this amendment allows."
NEA-NH believes that every child deserves a great education. Access to that education should not depend on the child's zip code. If CACR 12 passes, for the first time some New Hampshire children will be deemed more deserving of state funding than others. No child's future should be robbed to pay for another child's education.
"The obstacle to adequate education funding is not the Constitution, but Legislators who believe that an amendment is the only solution to a problem that does not exist. The Constitution is the only protection our children have from every kind of politically motivated funding scheme that only serves the bottom line and not the needs of our children," continued Wesolowski.
May 31, 2012
Trombly Named Executive Director
NEA-NH is pleased to announce that the Executive Board has appointed Rick Trombly, currently Director of Policy and Advocacy, as Interim Executive Director. This appointment was made necessary when Arthur Pippo tendered his resignation as NEA-NH Executive Director. The Board accepted his resignation at its May 11, 2012 meeting and named Trombly as his replacement.
"Many of you know Rick, and he will be able to hit the ground running working with the Board, our managers and our staff to deal with the many challenges we face," commented Rhonda Wesolowski, NEA-NH President.
Rick has been NEA-NH's Director of Policy and Advocacy for more than ten years, working to develop and defend NEA-NH's legislative positions and acting as our lobbyist at the statehouse. His political experience includes serving as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives for 16 years, including 4 years as minority leader, and 2 years in the New Hampshire Senate.
May 12, 2012
On March 4, the Concord Monitor ran an OpEd piece from Grant Bosse in favor up legislation currently in front of the house to divert money from public education to private, religious and home schools. We are reprinting his article, along with a response from Rhonda Wesolowski, NEA-NH President.
Public school monopoly doesn't cut the mustard
Parents deserve a greater choice Grant Bosse for the Concord Monitor
One of the reasons I like shopping at Market Basket is the huge selection. On a recent trip, I counted 51 different kinds of mustard. These days the condiment aisle is a lawless frontier, with horseradish and wasabi, and even relish, intruding on the very idea of what mustard is. The big yellow French's bottle reminded me of childhood baloney sandwiches. Fussy little gourmet jars featured garlic and dill and white wine. I have to mention my personal go-to hotdog sauce, Gulden's Spicy Brown. If the free market can provide such rich variety in something as mundane and trivial as mustard, why do we have just one choice for our kids' school?
Imagine for a moment that we organized grocery stores like we do education. We'd use a mix of federal, state and local taxes to support stores in every town, and you'd get to shop for free in the market closest to you. If you wanted to shop somewhere else, you'd not only have to pay for it out of pocket, but you wouldn't get back the property taxes going to your local store, and you'd have to convince the store management to let you go.
We'd stock the aisles of our public grocery store by electing a board to decide which deli meats, crackers and ice cream novelties we needed. And voters would annually approve the grocery store budget. Something tells me we wouldn't have 51 kinds of mustard.
The great thing about grocery stores is that they compete along more than one axis. I've found Market Basket is best on price. Hannaford has better produce, unless I go to the farm stand near me on Elm Street in Manchester. Shaw's is a little pricey, but the discount card helps, and it carries a few hard-to-find products that my wife really likes. I get to pick and choose from a vast cornucopia unavailable to kings and potentates just a few years ago.
Rich versus the rest
But if you want to decide which public school is best for your child, the only thing that matters is your zip code. Unless you're rich. The rich have always had school choice. The rest of us don't.
This year, the Legislature has a chance to open up those choices to more New Hampshire families. The School Choice Scholarship Act, sponsored by Jim Forsythe in the Senate and D.J. Bettencourt in the House, would provide credit against the business profits and business enterprise taxes for donations to scholarship organizations. These nonprofit groups would then award scholarships averaging no more than $2,500 to help parents pay the costs of private school, an out-of-district public school or home-schooling expenses.
Since the state's adequacy payments for every child in public school are much more than $2,500, the bill would more than pay for itself. The scholarships may not be enough to cover the entire sticker price of private or public school tuition, but it will make school choice much more affordable to many families. Together with the generous financial aid plans available to many private schools, the bill would open up a world of possibilities to students whose current public schools don't quite fit.
Tax credit plan
Backers of the public school monopoly object that tax money shouldn't go to private schools. And it wouldn't. Money from private businesses would be contributed to scholarship organizations, which would make means-tested awards to parents, who would then choose the right school for their children. We allow these sorts of credits and deductions for private charities throughout the tax code without raising any constitutional concerns.
But the greatest benefit of the School Choice Scholarship Act is actually to those students who stay in their local public school.
By breaking the de facto monopoly, local schools would have to start treating their students like customers. Maybe they'll try customizing their curriculum to better fit each student's needs. Maybe public schools will someday offer more than one kind of mustard.
(Grant Bosse is lead investigator for the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank based in Concord.)
Public Education is a New Hampshire Treasure and Priority - not a Jar of Mustard.
Privatization will put corporate profits ahead of student achievement Rhonda Wesolowski, President NEA-NH
Mr. Grant Bosse wrote recently about the public education system in New Hampshire and its relation to shopping for mustard. To compare the education of the children of our state to jars of mustard, or to equate them to customers shopping simply for the best price, demeans them, the value of public education and the dedicated professionals who provide the quality education that allows New Hampshire's students to succeed.
The education of a child can never been seen as a commodity. Students and their families are far more than simply "customers" of a school district, or trapped by their zip code. The core of public education and local control assures that the citizens of any city or town in New Hampshire have a seat at the Board of Directors table and are not subject to the stocking whims or profit goals of a store manager to continue Mr. Bosse's example.
Moreover, a customer is expected to pay in full for the goods and services provided to them. Very few families in New Hampshire can afford to pay the full price for comprehensive K-12 education. That very fact is why, for more than 100 years, the public has collectively supported the education of its children. For that support, the public sits on locally and democratically elected school boards and votes on the final budget and expenditures of the school district. Public education means the public owns the store - they are not powerless shoppers.
Mark Joyce, Executive Director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, stated on a recent "Exchange" program on NHPR that "at the core of this issue is a fundamental question about whether public education is an overall public good that should be controlled by all citizens - or is it a private right of every parent. Now, historically, for well over 100 years in our country, one of our greatest assets has been the public's control over public education. Whether a citizen has a child or not, or ever will, they have a good interest in whether we have an educated citizenry. And that, I think, is what's at the core here. Bills such as HB542 "certainly fracture the belief that all children deserve a quality education that is publicly controlled."
The folksy sounding analogy to shopping for mustard at one of our local supermarkets made by Mr. Bosse, along with his providing the names of the local sponsors of these bills completely obscures the fact that this legislation is part of a much broader national initiative to dismantle and defund public education in America, much of it authored by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
ALEC's goal is simple: privatize public education in America and replace student achievement goals with corporate profit goals. Their plan details many ways in which to accomplish this goal including the introduction of vouchers conveniently renamed "scholarships", tax incentives for sending children to private schools, charter schools operated by for-profit entities and giving tax dollars to parents who home-school their children. Their motivation for dismantling the public education system - creating a system where schools do not provide for everyone - is ideological, and it is motivated by profit. The corporate members on ALEC's education task force include representatives from the Friedman Foundation, Goldwater Institute, Evergreen Education Group, Washington Policy Center, and corporations providing education services such as Sylvan Learning and K-12, Inc. All stand to benefit from public funding sent in their direction. Make no mistake; if public education were to become private, profits would always come before student achievement, and it is profit that is motivating the call to implement the voucher system these bills call for.
The optimistically named School Choice Scholarship Act perverts the very idea of public education. The private donations Mr. Bosse describes are not donations at all, but are a diversion of tax dollars away from the State Treasury and into an account to fund private, religious and home schools. In making this "donation", the private business is excused from paying their entire tax bill to the State. No matter how they try to dress it up, diverting dollars that should have been paid in taxes to fund public education to other sources, defunds and dilutes public education and will result in a diminishment in the scope of services provided to all the children of New Hampshire.
Voucher supporters used to assert that students got a better education in private schools but the data showed that that did not happen. So advocates have turned to this new argument - the benefits will be in the impact of competition on the public schools. This is ideologically attractive, but it has not turned out to be true either. There is no study that demonstrates that competition from voucher or education tax credit programs materially improves the public schools.
And New Hampshire schools are doing quite well. Along with Massachusetts, New Hampshire's 4thgraders have the highest math performance in the country. We have the highest proportion of "Proficient" and "Advanced" students in the country. And 92% of our students achieve "Basic" or better. Our 8th graders were third in the country. We get similar great results in all our tests and even compare well on a world-wide basis.
The New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, is what the state uses to measure students' grade level achievement in every grade from 3rd to 8th and again in the 11th grade. Developed specifically for New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine, it is more challenging and detailed assessment of the student performance. New Hampshire is the best performing of the 4 states in most categories almost every year. Considering that there is a range of capabilities among the children in a given class, this is a remarkable achievement.
Mr. Bosse's biography states that he attended Hillsboro-Deering public schools from the first through the twelfth grades and then graduated from Dartmouth College. The system he is so ready to abandon in the name of corporate profits seems to have served him quite well without the unchecked influence of for-profit corporations.
We have a school system in New Hampshire to be proud of. The Legislature should protect and improve it, not denigrate and defund it.
March 9, 2012
NEA-NH President Appears on NHPR's Exchange Program
A new law allows parents who object to certain classroom materials to request alternative coursework for their child. Governor Lynch vetoed the bill last year, but the legislature recently overrode that veto. NEA-NH President Rhonda Wesolowski appeared on NHPR's The Exchange to discuss the new law and its negative impact on New Hampshire's classrooms. Listen Here.
January 17, 2012
NH Legislature Invites Chaos Into State's Classrooms
The New Hampshire Legislature on Wednesday overrode the governor's veto of HB 542 to enact a new law allowing parents to object to any part of the school curriculum. With this act, legislators have now entered every classroom in the state telling educators that if any parent for any reason objects to your course material, subject matter, or teaching methodology, you must teach an alternative to that parent's child.
NEA-NH objects in the strongest terms possible with both the enactment of this law and the reasoning behind it, and fears that the consequences from the enactment of HB 542 will open the door to the end of public education as we know it in this state.
The law that took effect Wednesday reads as follows:
"Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent's or legal guardian's determination that the material is objectionable. Such policy shall include a provision requiring the parent or legal guardian to notify the school principal or designee in writing of the specific material to which they object and a provision requiring an alternative agreed upon by the school district and the parent, at the parent's expense, sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area. The name of the parent or legal guardian and any specific reasons disclosed to school officials for the objection to the material shall not be public information and shall be excluded from access under RSA 91-A."
We believe there are too many unanswered questions associated with this new law.
- With no definition or limitation as to what can be deemed objectionable by parents, a parent can object to any material, lesson, or teaching method with complete anonymity.
- Does the parent have to provide any grounds for their objection?
- What happens to the child's education from the time the parent notifies the district of their objection and the agreement upon an alternative education plan?
- What happens if the parent and district cannot agree upon an alternative?
- In the case of multiple parent households, what happens if both parents do not agree that a plan is necessary?
- What happens if more than one parent objects? There is the possibility of more than one alternative being developed for the same classroom.
- How does a district maintain compliance with common core standards if there are multiple curriculums being taught in a classroom?
We view this as another attack on public education and the constitutional right of all of New Hampshire's school children to a quality education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century.
- If we have learned anything from the model Finland used to attain prominence in education it is that professional educators know what they are doing; they have been educated, trained, certified and are highly qualified to teach as a requirement by the State. With this new law, any parent, qualified or not, can veto any lesson plan on any grounds.
- Time and again we as teachers are told that we need to challenge our students to prepare them for the future. This law gives every parent and student an excuse to side-step rigorous curriculum and put in its place a less challenging alternative.
- This law is part of a calculated assault on the very foundation of public education, opening the door to the elimination of the public education model in New Hampshire, leaving expensive private schools as the educational alternative to those who can afford them and an underfunded, fragmented system for the children of the hard working middle class families in the state.
- This law discriminates against parents and children who may not be able to afford to pay for an approved alternative or limits them to the only alternatives they can afford.
- Any attack on public education is an attack on middle class families, depriving them of the best means possible to pursue the American dream: a quality education.
There are important unintended and unexplored costs that will result in increasing the burden of providing education for local communities and taxpayers.
- While the law states the parent will pay for the alternative lesson and materials, who bears the costs to develop and teach the alternative lessons?
- Do the parents pay for the alternative plans up front or after the lessons have concluded?
- With over 200 districts in New Hampshire there is the potential for more than 200 policies on alternative plan costs and reimbursements.
- This Legislature has recently seen fit to question the need for licensing or certification in areas other than education, reasoning, for example, that as long as a consumer knows that the person mixing dangerous chemicals to be used on your head isn't formally trained or licensed at least you have made an informed risk. They have extended this logic to the teaching profession with this new law allowing untrained, uncertified individuals to veto lesson plans. What can be accomplished by this continued degrading of our profession by politicians? The ability of the districts in the state to attract and retain highly qualified educators will be severely compromised by this measure.
With its many unanswered questions, hidden costs and potential to undermine public education in New Hampshire, the only certainty associated with this new law will be the chaos it will bring to classrooms across the state.
January 6, 2012
NEA-NH Election Notice
Filing deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012
President, vice-president, board members, NEA Director & Retired RA delegate on ballot
Tuesday, Jan. 17, is the deadline for filing for office for the 2012 NEA-NH elections. Voting for NEA-NH president, vice-president and Executive Board seats will take place between March 8 and 22, 2012.
Open Executive Board positions include seats in the Amoskeag, Capital, Eastern, Monadnock, North Country, Seacoast, Souhegan, and Southeast Regions, and the ESP and Retired seats.
The NEA director will serve the remaining two years of the three-year term with dates of service determined by the national association's bylaws.
Successful candidates for state office will begin their service on July 1, 2012. Positions to be elected are:
NEA-NH President, three-year term, (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Vice-president, three-year term, (one to be elected)
NEA Director, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH ESP Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Retired Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, one-year term and two-year term, (two to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term, (one to be elected)
North Country Region:
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (one to be elected)
NEA-NH Executive Board Member, two-year term (two to be elected)
NEA RA Self-Funded Delegate, one-year term (one to be elected)
- All members may vote for officers and for candidates representing their respective regions.
- Only retirees may vote for the retired delegate to the NEA RA.
- All candidates for office must file in writing for the office for which they wish to run with the Elections Committee, c/o Rick Trombly, director of Policy and Advocacy, NEA–NH, 9 South Spring Street, Concord, NH 03301 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Candidates' names will appear on the ballot as they appear on the filing.
- "In writing" means that the Elections Committee must physically receive such notification by letter or e-mail by the close of business (5:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.
- Candidates are entitled to submit statements and photographs for the March issue of the Educator. These statements and photos must also be received by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.
- In accordance with Board policy, the following procedures apply:
- Candidates for President, Vice-president and NEA director shall have the opportunity to submit: (a) A statement of not more than 100 words supporting their candidacies and (b) A photograph to accompany the statement.
- Candidates for NEA-NH Executive Board membership shall have the opportunity to submit: (a) A statement of not more than 50 words supporting their candidacies and (b) A photograph to accompany the statement.
- Candidates for NEA RA delegate shall have the opportunity to submit: (a) A statement of not more than 25 words supporting their candidacies and (b) A photograph to accompany the statement.
Please Note: In all instances, the Educator is not responsible for the quality of the reproduction of the photos. If sending a photo by e-mail, check with George Strout, editor, for specifications.
Please send all material for the Educator to the Elections Committee, c/o Rick Trombly, NEA-NH, 9 South Spring Street, Concord, NH 03301.
Candidates for NEA-NH offices who want a membership list or mailing labels must request these materials by Jan. 17, 2012. Requests should be sent to the Elections Committee at the address above.
How to submit Bylaws amendments
The 2012 NEA-New Hampshire Assembly of Delegates will be held on April 12, 2012. This annual meeting sets the budget and program priorities for NEA-NH. Delegates from each local association vote on issues affecting the state association. The Resolutions and Constitution Revision Committee is currently accepting proposed amendments to the NEA-NH Bylaws.
Regarding amendment procedures, the Bylaws state, "Such amendments shall have been published in the official journal of the association."
In order to have the proposed amendments appear in the March issue of the Educator, all proposed amendments must be submitted no later than Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. Send your suggested changes to: Douglas Hoff, chair, Resolutions and Constitution Revision Committee, NEA-New Hampshire, 9 South Spring Street, Concord, NH 03301. Any member may submit proposed changes to the NEA-NH Bylaws.
December 22, 2011
Right to Work Fails in New Hampshire
Reacting to today's New Hampshire House vote that failed to override Governor John Lynch's veto of the so called "Right to Work" bill, NEA-NH President Rhonda Wesolowski praised the tireless efforts of the coalition of educators, firefighters, state employees and retired public workers who helped secure today's results.
"There was nothing 'right' at all about this bill for middle-class working families in New Hampshire. Today's vote was a bipartisan rebuke of the efforts of the Speaker and outside groups to bring this kind of economically regressive legislation to our state."
"It is incomprehensible that so much time has been wasted on a bill that has been defeated so many times in the past when there are far more urgent and pressing issues facing middle class families in our state."
"This phrase 'right to work' has been found to be so misleading that the Supreme Court of Idaho refused to permit the term as part of the title on ballot initiatives brought before the voters of that state. The parties behind this misleading play on words main goal focuses on lowering wages, restricting the rights of workers and weakening the long standing principals of free collective bargaining in the United States. Bargaining that continues to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of union and non-union employees."
"I want to sincerely thank the members of both parties for their support today, especially the Republican caucus members who resisted the tremendous pressure from their leadership to put party first and New Hampshire families last. We will be sure to remind our members of their courage this November."
November 30, 2011
2011 NH Legislative Voting Record
The record is in and it's not very good. The legislature targeted public employees and education this year with their very first piece of legislation, SB-1 which repealed the Evergreen Law.
How did your elected officials vote this year on bills that had a direct impact on the public education and employees in New Hampshire? Open the 2011 voting record here.
November 1, 2011
The National Education Association has launched campaign asking Congress to support President Obama's American Jobs Act, which would put up to 280,000 educators back to work and modernize 35,000 of our nation's aging public schools.
In the campaign's TV ad, America's students ask who they have to be to earn attention and action from Congress. Students across the nation are contending with overcrowded classrooms, cuts to art, music and physical education programs, and loss of vital services, from counseling to health care. Please watch the ad, share it with your friends, and see how you can urge Congress to speak up for education and kids.
September 30, 2011
Manchester EA leader Maxine Mosley was interviewed on the Jeff Santos Show, Revolution Boston, AM 1510 on Tuesday, September 27. "This assault on public workers is appalling," she says. "Every citizen is touched by an educator." Listen
September 27, 2011