NH teachers’ suit against ‘banned concepts’ law: 4 things to watch

Lawyers for state teachers unions and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire faced off against the state Attorney General’s Office last week over a new law banning certain concepts from being taught in New Hampshire schools.

The law, known by many as the “divisive concepts” law after an earlier title, bars New Hampshire educators from teaching that a person in one protected class is inherently superior to another, inherently racist, or inherently oppressive, even unconsciously, and it prohibits teaching that an individual should be treated differently for one of those characteristics.

Supporters have said the law stops teachers from tailoring lessons against one race or gender. But teachers and public education advocates say it suppresses the ability to present nuanced lessons about history and could lead to unfair punishments, including the loss of educators’ credentials.

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Wednesday’s oral argument was the first in the lawsuit, in which the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers of New Hampshire, the National Education Association of New Hampshire, and others are seeking to overturn the law in federal court.

Here’s what Judge Paul Barbadoro said in court — the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire — and what it could mean for the future of the case.

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