The Charitable Foundation submitted the following testimony to the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee, urging passage of a measure to repeal and replace the so-called “banned concepts” bill passed last year.
The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation stands firmly behind the belief that all of our children deserve an education that promotes their development and critical thinking skills and offers them practical tools for their future.
As such, we urge you to pass SB304 to repeal and replace the provisions adopted in last year’s budget bill, HB2. The current law makes it difficult for our children to receive the complete education they deserve to help them thrive in communities and civic life.
Our nation has a complex history, and New Hampshire students have the right to learn the good and the bad elements of that history. Our children have benefited from longstanding curricula that teach both. We do children a disservice if we seek to eliminate certain American ideas and events, past and current, from their education. The current law makes it difficult for students and teachers to have honest and accurate learning conversations about the systemic racism that harms people and communities and limits progress, and about topics like sexism, disability, and gender identity. We have an obligation to prepare our kids to have honest conversations with people of varied backgrounds and experiences — by building understanding, not by banning ideas.
The current law is unclear, and teachers are understandably confused about it. They are concerned for their jobs and reputations if one parent complains, fairly or not, about a book, film or historical document included in the curriculum — or about a conversation that happens naturally in a classroom. Our children will miss out on a complete and accurate education if educators have to worry about complaints or lawsuits for teaching about racism or slavery, or for allowing students of all backgrounds to share their experiences honestly.
The future of our state, our shared prosperity and well-being, depend on all people being fully welcomed and valued, able to thrive and to help sustain their communities. The current law puts New Hampshire at risk of being perceived nationally as inhospitable for people who seek a welcoming, inclusive, diverse place to live and learn. Given the workforce challenges faced by businesses and nonprofits alike, we cannot afford to have a reputation that discourages people from coming to New Hampshire to work and raise their families — or from staying here.
SB304 provides a straightforward and clear way to correct course in New Hampshire, and to give our children the education and skills they need to thrive in communities, in careers — and in civic life. We urge you to pass it.