UVEI Statement Opposing NH HB 544

The Upper Valley Educators Institute’s purpose is to partner with schools and educators to foster deeper learning among students in our region. Deeper learning engages students in investigation and questioning, grappling with difficult issues and ideas, understanding different perspectives, formulating conclusions supported by evidence and reason, and speaking one’s truth. Among UVEI’s core values is a commitment to equity and social justice, believing that through education generally, and equity-centered deeper learning specifically, we can contribute to a more just society. 

We do not believe that we can prepare our students to be effective citizens and contributors to our multicultural democracy without giving them the tools to question and challenge dominant narratives, and we certainly cannot do so by lying to them about the past or the present. If education is to contribute to our collective liberation, we must teach students to engage earnestly with “divisive” topics. If we are to address and repair the harm that is caused by our history and present reality of racism, we cannot start with denial, we have to start with the truth.

In pursuing these goals and commitments, UVEI has a policy of academic freedom that respects the values of intellectual dynamism and the free flow of ideas. Exercising this freedom, the faculty of UVEI recently passed a resolution acknowledging that “inequitable systems in schools continue to dominate; [and] inequitable outcomes for students persist,” and asserting that “being antiracist and helping educators enact antiracist pedagogy” is core to this work.

NH HB 544, which would prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts” (meaning racism and sexism) in institutions that receive government funding or have government contracts,  is antithetical to all of these aims. Censoring educators while trying to compel them to teach dominant cultural, white supremicist narratives as “the facts” is a form of propaganda. It is damaging to young people, damaging to educators, undermines UVEI’s core work, and most importantly would be harmful to the aim of justice. 

As an institution, UVEI opposes this legislation, and we will resist it if it passes.