Coming Together in Community


Coming Together in Community

I’ve attended a lot of House sessions, HB Coop, and Hollis Town meetings. Through that experience, I’ve learned to listen to a wide range of concerns in times of controversy.

From a legislative perspective, my biggest gripe with entertaining controversy-driven policy is that it distracts us from working on pressing issues. New Hampshire’s long-term structural issues, like insufficient state education funding, shifting state costs to property tax payers and putting off sound energy & environmental planning, regularly get the back burner. People are hard-pressed to keep up with whether their money is being well-managed. Governing has become a team sport where managing perception, rather than the state, does us all a disservice.

The term divisive concepts bubbled up at the national level and found its way into the NH State House in the form of HB544 relative to the propagation of divisive concepts. This bill was not particularly well-written or conceived, but it certainly made waves. Although it made it out of committee against fierce public opposition, the House Tabled it without debate in our largest majority vote this year, 347 yeas to 18 nays. But somehow a deal was struck to include HB544’s language in the budget trailer bill, HB2. So even though a bipartisan House rejected censoring free speech, it may still become law if it is not removed from the budget trailer by the Senate. 

Here in Hollis, where warrant article 15 and its offered amendment were also presented in response to divisive concepts (aka. critical race theory), something very different happened on the HBHS lacrosse field, Saturday, April 10th. Those in attendance brought thoughtful understanding, opinion and expertise (HBHS students and faculty) and we listened to each other at the end of a long day. We heard from petitioners who spent time, money and effort creating a website and direct mailing HB households, out of a passionate concern for ideas being spread widely in some media circles. We heard alarm against ideas that were never part of local SAU41 DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) efforts. We heard parents, students and educators push back that no such ideology was on the menu in our schools and that the DEI talks were about arming our kids with the tools they need to bravely navigate a world that calls for increased understanding and for creating a stronger HB Coop community experience. We saw the embodiment of our community on display; we came with honesty; we faced our differences and we walked away stronger as a community.

This picture L-R: HPS environmental science teacher Tara Happy, former State Rep.& former School Board member, Michelle St. John, (me) State Rep. Kat McGhee, and Music Therapist Shannon Laine, who’s third grader (Nora) successfully helped present the State Spider bill in front of the House and Senate because of the efforts of her teacher, Mrs. Happy. What connects us: love of our HB kids and our community.

— — Hollis Brookline News Online
by Kat McGhee
April 12, 2021