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“Malicious: NH’s anti-child House” – the Union Leader’s wild editorial punches miss the mark again

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As usual, today’s Union Leader editorial is all mixed up.  Here is the piece, along with my commentary:

If you want an example of politicians knowingly harming the very people they claim they care about the most, look no further than Wednesday’s vote to repeal the state’s tuition tax credit law. What House Democrats tried to do to the educational prospects of struggling schoolchildren is nothing short of malicious.

First, why would you call it “malicious” and “knowingly harming?”  Does anyone believe that?  There are obvious difference of opinion, but there’s no point in calling Democratic legislators malicious.  It just relegates you to the sidelines.

Last year the Republican-led Legislature passed – over Gov. John Lynch’s veto – a law that lets businesses take a tax credit for 85 percent of the value of donations they make to an educational scholarship program for lower-income students. Families who have incomes of no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level may use the scholarships to help finance the cost of a private-school education.

Yes, it is an 85% tax credit, but the actual benefit to the business is much larger, as I demonstrate here.

Democrats strongly opposed the law last year. With their big House majority this year, they made killing it a priority. The House voted 188-151 Wednesday, largely along party lines, to repeal it.

For the children who would receive these scholarships, the law is an unmitigated good. They get to attend a school that works for them. What about the children who remain in public schools?

Democrats claimed that these children would be harmed by a loss of funding. Nonsense. For each child who takes a scholarship, the state loses 85 percent of $2,500, or $2,124. But the state pays public schools about $4,700 per child. For each kid who takes a scholarship, the state comes out about $2,575 ahead.

UL’s numbers are wrong, as I pointed out last time they wrote a voucher editorial.  In the end, both the State and the school districts lose out.  The State pays over 93% of the cost of the voucher and the “profit” the State makes in Manchester, which gives up a high state grant for each voucher child, gets spent on voucher students from Portsmouth, where there is no state grant to take back.

What about local schools? The law caps the amount any public school could lose at 1 percent of the school’s budget.

The figure is .25%, not 1%, but there is no safety in that.  It could be removed any time.

This law does not harm any children. It helps the most vulnerable ones by giving them tickets out of failing schools. It helps those left in the failing schools by giving administrators and teachers stronger incentives to improve student outcomes.

It’s not clear why the UL makes this point.  The voucher program is not targeted to failing schools, as it is in other states.  And the resources vouchers take from schools, successful or failing, make them less competitive, not more.

Those positive, pro-child results are exactly why Democrats voted to kill the law. Their goal is not to help kids, not to educate them, not to help them prosper. Their goal is to maintain complete control over them by forcing as many as possible to remain in government schools, regardless of whether those schools function well or not at all. This vote was plainly and transparently anti-child. May the Senate have the wisdom to maintain hope for these children by killing this vile bill.

Come on, Union Leader!  Do you reeeeaaaaly believe that?  I don’t think that’s a rap you’re going to be able to sell.  What it does demonstrate is the kind of foul temper that must make you hard to live with.

The full piece without my interruptions: Malicious: NH’s anti-child House, UL Opinion page.


  1. geauxteacher says:

    Are the people of New Hampshire aware of the Influence of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) in all this legislation? The wording of the bills and the rhetoric used to “sell” them are precisely identical from state to state. We’ve suffered through the voucher bill in Louisiana, sued the state wherein the funding (using funding dedicated to public schools for private vouchers) was ruled unconstitutional, and dodged a bullet with a more extensive tax credit. Something not mentioned here is the 5% fee paid to a third party administrator(laundromat) which could be any fly-by-night group established for the purpose. It is obvious your Union Leader has been bought and his position does not represent any other teacher union that I know of.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Yes, Lee, we know all about ALEC. It’s legislation is progressive compared to our home brew. ALEC is really just the library for these voucher concepts. The real keepers of the flame are the hundreds of school choice groups on whom our legislators drew for inspiration.

      You might forget, but you sent me all your legal material some months ago and we made real use of it in crafting our suit.

      The scholarship organization, as we call it, can get up to 10% in New Hampshire and we have only one, discussed here:

      As for the “Union” Leader, it has nothing to do with labor unions. It’s New Hampshire’s guardian of the conservative flame.

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