Banfield: Beware the Upcoming Proposed Changes to NH “Civics” Education

by Ann Marie Banfield

Please take a look at this hearing coming up this week in Concord. Attending these hearings and speaking will have the biggest impact. If you cannot make it to the hearing, signing in through the general court website, or sending the committee an email, is the next best option. All instructions will be included below:

March 29th 2:00 PM

OPPOSESB216 Title: (New Title) making changes to the requirements for civics education in schools.

FILL OUT THE PINK CARD and hand it to a Committee Member so you can speak at the hearing. 

I’m grateful for the amendment which made this a better bill. I still have some issues with the language, and how this law would apply to private schools. 

The first line says that this law will apply to PRIVATE schools.
There is no need to regulate private schools with this legislation based on the additional language that will be added to the current law. 

INCLUDED IN SB216  is LANGUAGE that would be added to NH Law: 

(b)  Civic skills, the acquisition of skills, such as the ability to analyze text and determine the reliability of sources and an understanding of the ways in which civic institutions operate and how individuals may be involved in civic life.
(c)  Civic dispositions, the acquisition of dispositions, values such as appreciation for free speech, civil discourse, and understanding perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds that differ from one’s own as well as a disposition to be civically engaged.
(d)  Civic behaviors, the development of behaviors, including civic habits and practices such as voting, serving on juries, engagement in deliberative discussions, volunteering, attending public meetings, and other activities related to civic life. 


The language used in (b) talks about the acquisition of skills….and then gives examples. The problem is, skills have become something far different than what is described.
“Skills” are…”soft skills.” What are soft skills? Soft skills used to be what the govt said employers wanted. 

Skills now bleed over into Social and Emotional attitudes/competencies.
With a focus on “soft skills” in the classroom, there is less emphasis on knowledge. Not good if you want to improve civics LITERACY. 

But even that is changing through the SEL in schools. The skills that were once directed at workforce training are morphing into Emotional Intelligence SKILLS. EQ How do you measure that?

SEL is also going from SEL to TRANSFORMATIVE SEL which will focus students on RACE and EQUITY. ie…schools will focus on political SKILLS to change the values/attitudes/beliefs in your children. 

Children will need to become social justice warriors. Those are the SKILLS that the promoters of SEL want your children to possess. 

ADDING this language without definitively defining SKILLS opens the door for the CRT/Social justice warriors to push skill building on children. 

When companies go to “hire an inclusive workforce” this will require much more than just making sure their hiring practices reflect a racially diverse populace. It means that the employees they hire display the soft skills of “inclusivity.” How will they be held accountable? Environmental Social and Corporate Governance Scores (ESG).

(c) is better than what was in the original bill. The original bill referenced ACTION CIVICS which is a way to turn kids into community organizers. We see that already happening in schools, there is no need to add it to state statute. Sen. Lange offered a better version, but I do not think (c) is necessary if you want to address the importance of civics education in NH. 

(d) Civic behavior. Since when did it become the role of the State to determine proper Civic behavior? It is the role of the public schools to impart knowledge on students. The local communities can certainly require or request that this be done in a civilized manner. However, it is not the role of the state to determine what is the correct behavior for our children. It is up to us if we want to engage in any of the “behaviors” listed.

What we really need are quality CIVICS academic standards, and a standardized test to measure what children know.

SUMMARY to send to the House Education Committee: 

While I agree that Civics education is a priority for children in New Hampshire Schools, I ask you to vote ITL on SB216 for the following reasons: 

1) Civics education in New Hampshire should be focused on literacy. Currently we have schools that are not properly educating children with quality Civics academic content. SB216 starts out supporting a quality Civics education; however, in section I-b in (b),  (c) and (d), it becomes problematic. Those three lines should be removed. It is not up to the state to determine the correct skills, dispositions or behaviors in our children. This is a huge overreach by the State. 

2) SB216 adds new language that would apply to private schools. Sections (b), (c) and (d) would add new and unnecessary government regulations to our private schools. 

In summary, the skills, dispositions, and behaviors we’ve seen pushed and promoted in our public schools do not always reflect what we want for our children. Some of these skills have gone from workforce skills to Social and Emotional skills. Those are reflected in competencies that in some states, have become political skills. Not only is this something I do not want in our public schools, but it is wrong to burden private schools with these overt government regulations. 

For these reasons, I urge you to vote ITL (Inexpedient to Legislate) on SB216. 

Ann Marie Banfield has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at:

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