School Choice

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Lawmakers will debate a controversial education bill Tuesday that would allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private school tuition and homeschool expenses.

The bill is testing how far and how fast school choice advocates are willing to go in implementing their agenda.

Peter Biello

  Now two months into the job, New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut says he's been impressed by what he's seen far in his visits to schools across the state.

But as the state considers legislation that would vastly expand school choice options for parents, Edelblut says the goal for public schools is clear.

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A Senate bill proposes allowing parents to use public education funds for alternative educational expenses, from private school tuition to computer equipment. A growing number of states have adopted such measures but not without plenty of debate.  We'll take a look at that discussion here, and around the country. 


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  Opponents of a school voucher bill say the proposal would violate the state constitution by allowing public money to be used at private, religious schools.

The Republican-backed bill would create Education Freedom Savings Accounts, allowing parents to use public money for a broad range of education expenses, including tuition at private schools. Families would get roughly $3,400 dollars per child, or 90 percent of the average per-pupil state adequacy grant.

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  A school choice bill making its way through the legislature could have major implications for the way public education is funded in New Hampshire.

The Republican-backed proposal would create what the bill calls “Education Freedom Savings Accounts.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House worked its way Wednesday through dozens of bills.

Among the measures approved are proposed changes to the state’s drug laws and public school funding.

NHPR’s Paige Sutherland has been covering Wednesday’s session and joins All Things Considered Host Peter Biello from the Statehouse in Concord.

The state senate passed a bill today that would allow school districts to use tax money to send students to qualifying private schools if there is no public school available in the district.

The so-called Croydon Bill was born out of a legal dispute between the Croydon school board and state officials.

Croydon, which does not have a public school for grades 5-12, began paying for a handful of students to attend a private Montessori School in nearby Newport.

A judge ruled that illegal and ordered Croydon to stop the payments.

School Choice in the Granite State

Jan 31, 2017
NHPR

At the local and national level, the movement to give families more options outside of their local district gains traction. In New Hampshire, several proposed bills would provide more funds and greater access to charter schools and other forms of education. But some worry these efforts will harm public school districts and rural counties.  


Michael Brindley

  When New Hampshire's state Senate convenes for its first session of the year next week, there will be plenty of new faces.

Nine of the legislative body's 24 members are newly elected, and this week, we're hearing from two of those incoming lawmakers.

Ruth Ward is Republican from Stoddard who will represent the Senate’s eighth district. That includes towns like New London, Weare, and Antrim.

Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke sat down with Ward to talk about her new role.

The Department of Revenue Administration has released a memo clarifying the rules surrounding a controversial education tax credit scholarship. The memo makes clear that the state’s largest scholarship organization will have to change how it operates next year.

The Network for Educational Opportunity will have to give 70 percent of its scholarships to individual public school students. This year it’s giving 70 percent of the funds to just 13 public school students. That’s the lion’s share of the funds going to just 12.6 percent of scholarship recipients.

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Civil liberties groups have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s Tax Credit Scholarship law. The ACLU has teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to for the complaint.

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On January 1st businesses can start getting tax breaks for donating to organizations that give public school students money toward going to a private school. But before that law has even taken effect, there are proposals to change it.

The business tax credit scholarship law was never popular with Democrats, who called it a back-door school vouchers measure. Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has said that she would try to repeal it, and a Manchester Representative, Peter Sullivan, will file a bill that would do just that.

On Wednesday, the legislature will vote on whether or not to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of a bill supporters call School Choice Scholarship Act.

Both Democratic gubernatorial candidates are calling on the legislature to uphold the governor’s veto. Their republican opponents came out in support of the school choice bill last week. There are two, nearly identical, versions of the education tax credit coming back before the legislature tomorrow.

At a campaign event Tuesday,  Maggie Hassan used the veto vote to lash out at one of her Republican opponents.

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Governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would create a tax credit for businesses donating to not-for-profit scholarship organizations.

 

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill sponsored by school choice advocates that would create a tax credit for businesses that donate to scholarship organizations.

Many public school educators oppose the measure saying that it would sap schools of already scarce resources, but opponents in the senate tried to block the bill by calling into question its constitutionality.

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Many proposals encouraging educational choice are pending in Concord this year. One with strong backing would use tax credits to encourage businesses to pay for school scholarships.

Critics say this would starve public schools of much needed funding, but supporters say this is a way to give students more options while avoiding constitutional concerns that have doomed past proposals for school vouchers.