New Hampshire sued over school choice expansion

By Christian Wade | The Center Square

New Hampshire is facing a lawsuit from a teachers’ union over a new program that diverts public dollars for children to attend private schools and homeschooling.

The litigation filed by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, alleges the state’s Education Freedom Account program is illegally diverting taxpayer money from the state lottery, which is intended for traditional public schools.

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Under the law in New Hampshire, public school dollars follow K-12 students if they decide to attend private or charter schools. Families apply for annual grants ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 per student. Participants must be making under 300% of the federal poverty level, or $79,500 for a family of four, according to the state’s criteria.

The lawsuit, filed in a state Superior Court, specifically names Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, and claims the funding mechanism for the program violates state law by tapping into lottery proceeds.

Deb Howe, the union’s president, accuses state education officials of “stealing” money from public school students “in plain sight” to pay for its private voucher program.

“Public school students are losing out on millions of dollars that are needed to fix leaky old buildings, purchase and maintain modern computer equipment, buy books and materials published at least in the last decade to support student learning,” Howes said.

“If Commissioner Edelblut wants to continue with his cherished voucher program, he needs to figure out a legal way to fund it, but definitely not on the backs of public school students,” she added.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Education declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based libertarian public interest law organization, says it plans to intervene in the lawsuit “on behalf of parents currently using the Education Freedom Accounts to fund the education they choose for their children.”

New Hampshire is one of at least 10 states that have authorized the use of educational freedom accounts for private schooling.

Under the law, public school dollars follow K-12 students if they decide to attend private or charter schools. Families apply for annual grants ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 per student. Participants must be making under 300% of the federal poverty level, or $79,500 for a family of four, according to the state’s criteria.

The program is administered by the Children’s Scholarship Fund, a private, nonprofit organization that works under contract with the state.

Interest in the program has exceeded the expectations of state education officials. The state Department of Education said as of September there were 3,025 students in the program, compared to 1,572 in the previous school year, when it was launched.

Along with rising enrollment, the state’s costs are also steadily rising, the data shows. This year, the state will tap into $14.7 million from the state’s Education Trust Fund, which contains reserve funds for the program, according to state education officials. Last year, the state spent about $8 million on the program.

Supporters say the program is providing more opportunities for students who don’t want to attend public schools, and ultimately save the state money.

Critics say it siphons money and resources from public schools, and will force cities and towns to raise property taxes to make up for the loss of state funding.

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5 thoughts on “New Hampshire sued over school choice expansion

  1. Re: “stealing” money from public school students “in plain sight” to pay for its private voucher program.

    This is a false premise (aka a lie). When a public school student leaves the public school using a voucher to attend a private school, the money (that student’s share of it anyway) follows the student.

    The question Deb Howe, the union’s president, doesn’t answer is: Why should a public school receive money to educate a student that isn’t in the public school?

  2. A teacher’s union’s first priority is ensuring the union’s existence. Unions make certain to buy politicians, just as corporations do. They are secondarily concerned with their members, and will support members and even leftist school administrators who are incompetent, crooked, or perverted. Look to the mess in Randolph for an example, where a boy claiming to be a girl watched girls disrobing in a locker room against their wishes. That used to be a felony. Actually, still is. The union’s least concern is their students.. Most individual teachers want to teach, not to indoctrinate, but the unions favor those who wish to indoctrinate. Wise parents in Vermont will home school, transfer to private schools if they can, or get out of Dodge.

  3. I live in NH and I can tell you that the lady from the teachers union is flat out lying.
    Enrollment has decreased significantly over these past 25 years. The school in town that I went to has nearly half the number of students there today than there were back in the late 80s.
    And yet take a look at the cost and the stunning levels of growth in Administration. (yes I see these numbers)
    You can drive by our local school and see a building that does need work- and then you can see the parking lot filled with Volvos and BMWs where the administration works and parks and it’s pretty easy to see where the money is going.

    Take a look at what is spent today on athletics and sports fields.
    I mean I can go on and on.. look at the cost of teachers medical insurance- much of why it’s skyrocketed is because teachers are so obese and unhealthy.
    THIS is where all the money goes!!

    WE SEE IT!!
    These schools today are nothing but cancerous growths trying to devour the host- which is the taxpayer.
    If there is one dime around out there, they want it for themselves.
    These people are sickening.

  4. It’s like I’ve said for years. Unions in general do not care for their members or the people their members serve. They only want money in their coffers to benefit the leaders and to buy influence. I served on both sides, labor and management. I know wherefore I speak.

  5. These teachers unions care nothing about educating children in match, science and reading. They care more about brainwashing future generations in Social Justice aka the new sustainable, green neo-Communist goals, as stated in the UN 2030 Agenda. This is exactly why the BLM chapter leader of the Minneapolis chapter stated as he publically renounced his position as the chapter leader, he said that the teacher’s unions and BLM only care about their political power, not educating children.

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