NH Dems Voted to Stop You from Seeing these Charts

Administrator salaries for the Salem School District. If HB 1265 is confirmed by the House this month, informative graphs like this will be physically posted in every school district in New Hampshire before school budget meetings.

On May 2, the New Hampshire House passed “the Students First Act”: a simple but ingenious bill on public education spending.

Written by state Senator Keith Murphy, the Students First Act will require that, before school budget meetings, school districts physically display 10-year line graphs, adjusted for inflation, showing school costs, average teacher pay, and total administrator pay.

If the bill is passed, voters across the state will be surprised at the striking results. Granite Staters have long been manipulated into acceding to high education costs using the specter of underpaid teachers. Despite ever-mounting school costs, however, the average New Hampshire teacher has received essentially zero pay increase in decades.

Instead, our tax dollars have been used to finance a growing class of powerful administrators, who now make up to $200,000—three times the average state teacher salary of $67,000. These comfortable administrators, not teachers, are the real driving force behind the partisan, progressive indoctrination and bias in our public school system.  

Democrats are desperate to protect these high-paid superintendents and diversity professionals from the scrutiny of voters. On the afternoon of May 2, after the House had passed the Students First Act, Democrats realized that a few Republican representatives had left for the day. They quickly moved to reconsider the Students First Act and narrowly defeated it.

But Senator Keith Murphy was undaunted. On May 23, Murphy amended a school housekeeping bill, HB 1265, and inserted the text of the Students First Act into the bill. That means the bill is now back in play.

If you’re wondering why Democrats are so determined to stop this bill, take a look at our accurate mock-up of what the Salem School District’s line graphs will actually look like.

Look carefully at these graphs, then imagine large posters showing this information being posted in grocery stores and other public areas, before every school district budget meeting, across the state.

Through unprecedented transparency, HB 1265 could revolutionize the debate about school spending in New Hampshire, depriving school districts of their ability to create large, powerful administrations at the expense of teachers and students. Contact your state representative and ask them to support HB 1265.

To learn more about Sen. Murphy’s bill, read this written version of a detailed and powerful speech by Rep. Kristin Noble below. 

 

Rep. Kristin Noble, Full Floor Speech on the Students First Act;
Now HB 1265

Note: This is a longer, written version of the floor speech delivered by Rep. Kristin Noble during debate on the bill.

See if you can make sense of these two facts about New Hampshire’s education system.

First, school spending is going up with no end in sight. Over the past two decades, our cost-per-pupil—the amount we spend in tax dollars divided by the number of children in school—has gone up 77%. And that’s after you adjust for inflation.

Secondly, none of this money is going to teachers—and I mean none of it. When you adjust for inflation, New Hampshire teachers have not gotten a raise in twenty years.

We’ve all heard reports of teachers getting paid less than the starting salary of a cashier at Walmart. And this isn’t just anecdotal.

Listen carefully to these numbers, because the latest facts are even more shocking than the older numbers in the Senate’s legislative findings.

As of this year, our average cost-per-pupil is slightly higher than Massachusetts, with both states spending about $20,000 per pupil. But—somehow—the average New Hampshire teacher is paid almost $20,000 less than the average Massachusetts teacher. All of these numbers are from the state departments of education.

Think carefully about those numbers. My colleagues who will vote against this bill today might be happy to hear me say we can learn something from Massachusetts. But, if Massachusetts tells us anything, it tells us that our teacher pay crisis has nothing to do with our taxes and spending being too low.

If Massachusetts pays teachers $20,000 more with the same amount of per-pupil money, then where is all our money going?

Over the past 20 years, as New Hampshire teacher pay has failed to go up at all, our number of non-teaching staff has gone up 80%. As our teachers sometimes make less than they could at McDonalds, we have seen the growth of a large class of school administrators across the state—including superintendents, assistant superintendents, and an unreported number of full-time diversity professionals.

As of this year, superintendents in New Hampshire make up to $200,000, or three times the salary of an average New Hampshire teacher. These school administrators are the driving force behind ideological partisanship in our schools, and they have become numerous, wealthy, and a powerful political machine—a fact we can see from the way the so-called “teachers’ union” lobbied against this bill in the Senate.

These administrators are not just profiting from taxpayers: they are profiting on the backs of teachers. One member of our state Board of Education has said that taxpayers are being subjected to “moral coercion.” Granite Staters are presented with the spectacle of impoverished teachers, so they compassionately vote to increase school taxes to raise those low teacher salaries. But, for 20 years, none of these higher school taxes have ever gone to teachers.

Instead, we create more and more high-paid directors of diversity and inclusion while teacher pay is kept artificially low, so that this cynical cycle can begin again.

How has this problem gotten even worse in New Hampshire than in Massachusetts? Because there has been nobody here to stop it. In New Hampshire, we have a volunteer legislature, limited civil society institutions, and decaying local media that no longer inform the people of these kinds of problems. Right under our noses, this industrial complex of school administrators has been able to grow in the darkness. It’s time to bring it into the light.

This bill will require that school districts post line graphs showing three numbers over 10 years: their average cost-per-pupil, their average teacher pay, and their total administrator salaries.

I have seen mock-ups of what these line graphs are going to look like and, in many places, the results are predictable. Teacher pay has remained a flat line, per-pupil spending has gone way up, and administrator pay shoots up like a hockey stick.

The results will speak for themselves, letting taxpayers make an informed decision about whether and how to increase school spending.

One last note here. My guess is that someone is about to stand up here and tell you that creating these charts is going to be some kind of big expense, or that mandating the posting of signs is some sort of unprecedented cruelty.

Let me be clear about this. I have talked to people who have made mock-ups of these charts, and any one of these charts can be made in 10 to 20 minutes using Microsoft Excel, which is not exactly some newfangled technology. Other than the salaries of diversity professionals, which are mostly not reported, all of the numbers are collected by the Department of Education.

Finally, the posting requirement and penalties are taken directly from existing state law. RSA 91-A:2 already requires that notice of public meetings be physically posted in a public place, and 91-A:7 already lets citizens seek an injunction in court if the notice is not posted.

Nothing about this procedure is fundamentally new. What is new is that all taxpayers will be able to see in a clear, accessible format what has really been happening with their tax dollars.

Please vote Ought to Pass and help us put our students and teachers before school administrators. Thank you.

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