The House Education Committee has scheduled a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, June 9 on a bill that would block the implementation of the NH Department of Education’s Learn Everywhere rule proposal from 2018.
The bill, Senate Resolution 1, asks the legislature to clarify whether or not they intended to give the State Board the authority to require a school district to accept credits for programs and courses that it did not approve. It was proposed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) earlier this year, following a formal rulemaking process that spanned much of 2019. The Senate passed the resolution in February 2020, and it was headed to the House before the statewide stay-at-home order shut down all legislative activity.
The virtual public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. Anyone can testify via phone, or submit their written testimony, by emailing the House Clerk at email@example.com and following the instructions published on the state website. Tips on how to testify, or how to submit written testimony, can be found here.
The Senate Education Committee will also hold a public hearing on Wednesday, June 10, on HB 1454, which would block the proposed Learn Everywhere rules. Instructions on how to listen in to the public hearing, and how to participate via oral and/or written testimony can be found here.
While the rules were in the legislature, the NH Department of Education could not implement them. But, if the resolution doesn’t pass by the June 28, 2020 deadline, or if Governor Sununu vetoes the resolution, the rules can be implemented.
About Learn Everywhere
Learn Everywhere is a set of administrative rules that would mandate that public high schools and charter schools accept credit from approved private, for-profit and nonprofit companies. The companies would have to seek approval from the NH State Board of Education, a body of 7 members who are appointed by the Governor and Executive Council.
JLCAR cited eight violations where the proposed Learn Everywhere rules may violate state laws and rules. They voted to issue a final objection and sponsor a joint resolution to the proposed rules in 2019, saying it usurps local control by mandating that public neighborhood and charter schools grant credit, when that school has no say in approving the curriculum of the course or program for which credit is being granted.
“The Board of Education can’t rewrite state statute through a rule setting process,” JLCAR member and Senator Jay Kahn (D-Keene) said during a legislative oversight committee meeting in 2019.
“State statutes make clear that the Board does not have the authority to approve school curriculum—that’s the responsibility of local school districts. There was a bipartisan effort this year to clarify those roles; however, Governor Sununu vetoed that bill, so now we’re left with the statutes as they exist.”
The Future of Learn Everywhere
The NH Department of Education has not publicly stated whether it would pursue the adoption or implementation of the Learn Everywhere rules if the resolution failed, but it has a variety of resources on Learn Everywhere available on its recently updated website.
Regardless of the outcome of the resolution, JLCAR has effectively said that the Learn Everywhere program is contrary to current laws and rules by issuing a final objection. This means that the State is no longer accountable for any legal challenges, should there be any if the program is implemented. The Department of Education itself would have the burden of proof to defend the Learn Everywhere program in court.
There are four other bills concerning the granting of credit and the role of the State Board of Education that are moving through both chambers, which have also been on hold since the statewide stay-at-home order.
Read more about Learn Everywhere:
- Legislative Committee Issues Final Objection to Learn Everywhere
- State Board of Education: Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules’ objections to Learn Everywhere based on “incorrect understanding” of laws and rules
- Legislative oversight committee issues preliminary objection on Learn Everywhere rules
- SB140, a bill to preserve local control in education, vetoed
- State Board narrowly approves Learn Everywhere, Chair asserting that local control “is a myth”
- State Board approves Learn Everywhere rules while acknowledging “overwhelming” public opposition
- Questions and answers about the proposed Learn Everywhere program