SB 219, The Students First Act—introduced by Senator Keith Murphy—will be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday 2/14/23. This important bill will crack down on sprawling, expensive school administration in New Hampshire and ensure that education spending prioritizes students first.
New Hampshire schools often point to low-paid teachers as an example of why schools need more funding. In reality, while school taxes and spending have increased for decades, almost none of that money has ever gone to teacher salaries.
Instead, our public school system has created giant, highly-paid bureaucracies of administrators and full-time diversity professionals—any one of whom can expect to rake in the salaries of three or more low-paid teachers combined.
Conservatives have long fought a losing battle on this issue by casting themselves as anti-teacher, arguing that teachers who make less than starting salaries at McDonalds are “actually overpaid.” This unpopular argument misses the point and plays into a trap created by school administrations. Teacher pay is not the reason school taxes are increasing: NH teacher pay has increased by only 1% in 20 years, while our number of non-teaching staff has increased by 80%.
To finally stop endlessly-increasing school costs, conservatives must reframe the debate. As NH Board of Education member Ryan Terrell has argued, NH teacher pay is not low because schools are underfunded, but because education spending is being systematically abused across the state.
Local school boards, who cannot see the forest through the trees, have failed to perceive and correct this problem. The legislature must step in and ensure that, if a school district wants to hire six-figure diversity professionals and other high-paid administrators, they must pay teachers first.
SB 219 will neither mandate increases nor decreases in your local school spending. What it will mandate is a difference in how your school district and SAU prioritizes its spending of your money: unless teachers are paid first, large administrations may no longer be hired. It’s time to put students first.
WHEN: There will be a public hearing on SB 219 before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 14, at 9:30 AM in the Legislative Office Building, Room 101.
CORNERSTONE POSITION: Cornerstone SUPPORTS an amendment to this bill introduced by NH Senator Keith Murphy which corrects various typos and errors contained in the original bill. Cornerstone advocates that the bill be passed with the amendment.
As New Hampshire State Board of Education member Ryan Terrell explains in his recent Union Leader op-ed published January 2nd, over the past two decades, New Hampshire’s cost-per-pupil has increased by 77%, adjusted for inflation, while our teacher salaries have increased by only 1%.
New Hampshire’s systemic misuse of education spending is a vicious cycle. Seeing that teachers are often borderline impoverished, communities respond by increasing school taxes and spending. Schools then use that money to pay bureaucrats and the cycle repeats.
SB 219 would break this cycle by playing more value and emphasis on teachers and students, rather than allowing more and more of our educational dollars to be pocketed by bureaucratic administrations.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Register your support for SB 219 by signing in in support of the bill here.
You can find step-by-step instructions on how to sign in here.
2. Submit written testimony. You can do this when you sign in. Simply hit “choose file” under step number four to upload a document with your testimony, or type your testimony into the provided box. If you are submitting written testimony, we ask that you specify that you support the amendment introduced by Keith Murphy, not the original bill. The amendment proposed by Senator Murphy simply fixes some typos and errors in the original bill.
3. We urge you to come testify in person, especially if you have observed and are concerned about specific examples of top-heavy, large school administration in your community. We have step-by-step instructions on how to testify here. You can also reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions about the testifying process.
Important Note: A number of people have had issues with the Senate remote sign-in page. If you are encountering problems, you can also email the committee directly registering your support for the bill and/or submitting written testimony. You can find their contact info here. If you are emailing the committee, we ask that you specify that you support the amendment introduced by Keith Murphy, not the original bill. The amendment proposed by Senator Murphy simply fixes some typos and errors in the original bill.