Governor condemns tweet offering ‘bonus’ to teachers

CONCORD, NH – Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday denounced a Tory group’s offer to pay $ 500 to the first person who “catches” a public school teacher in violation of New Hampshire’s new boundaries on systemic racism debate and other topics.

Sununu had opposed an earlier version of the legislation that echoed an order from the Trump administration and sought to ban discussion of “concepts of division” in schools. But he then backed language inserted into the state budget “that would prohibit teaching children that they are inferior, racist, sexist or oppressive because of their race, gender or other characteristics.”

After the state’s Department of Education set up a website last week to collect complaints against teachers, the New Hampshire Chapter of Moms for Liberty tweeted, “We have $ 500 for the person who catches for the first time a teacher in a public school breaking this law. In a follow-up, the conservative parents’ organization asked its supporters to refer to online donations as “CRT Bounty’s,” referring to critical race theory.

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“The governor condemns the tweet referring to ‘bonuses’ and any kind of financial incentive is totally inappropriate and out of place,” Sununu spokesman Ben Vihstadt said in an email.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut made slight criticisms when asked this week about the tweets.

“I would encourage people to be very careful on social media,” he said in an interview. “There is a lot of rhetoric on social media that is neither helpful nor constructive.”

Republicans presented the law as an effort to strengthen anti-discrimination laws and said it would allow the teaching of these concepts in a historical context. But Democrats argue it will prevent teaching implicit bias, structural racism and sexism.

Although the Ministry of Education has published the reporting form online, complaints will be forwarded directly to the National Human Rights Commission, which can dismiss them or investigate further. Decisions made against teachers could be used by the state Board of Education to discipline them, including revocation of licenses.

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Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers in New Hampshire, accused Edelblut of starting a “war on teachers.” And the New Hampshire School Administrators Association urges Sununu to work with educators and families to clarify what will be considered appropriate teaching on history and race relations. He called on Sununu to denounce the “bounty” tweets on Wednesday.

“Our state is at a crossroads. Do we allow these attacks to continue to drive good, benevolent teachers and administrators away from our schools? Do we value our schools as community assets, or are they just the commissioner’s political punch bags? “Said the association in a statement.

Edelblut countered that the new reporting process protects teachers because it sets up a neutral process to resolve complaints. He compared it to similar systems put in place to handle complaints against other licensed professionals, from lawyers and doctors to cosmetologists.

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“The shock that this is a website that has been provided seems incompatible with what is happening in the rest of the professional world,” he said. “Cosmetology doesn’t see this as an attack on cosmetology because someone lets someone file a complaint.”

Critical race theory has become a rallying cry for some conservatives who challenge the way schools have approached diversity and inclusion. Theory is a way to analyze American history through the prism of racism, but is not in itself a component of K-12 education.

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