Here is my opinion piece from the Sunday Portsmouth Herald, updated here to include links to more detailed information I just posted Sunday night. This piece urges readers to contact Sen. Stiles because she’s our senator and opposed vouchers last year. But people should contact their own senators everywhere in the State.
Here is a short due diligence report for anyone considering supporting the voucher tax credit program enacted over the governor’s veto last year.
To date, only one “scholarship organization” has been approved to collect millions of dollars in potential business donations and then, after taking up to 10 percent off the top, to select the schools and children who will get the money. That’s a California group called the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. They opened an office in New Hampshire a couple of years ago, guided the sponsors in writing the legislation and lobbied for its passage.
They say their mission is “ending government involvement in education.” Here’s how they describe their beliefs:
“Our society has become a slave to the state by virtue of government-controlled schools. Children suffer, parents feel helpless, and scores of good educators feel trapped in a system that never should have existed in the first place. …
“Why shouldn’t the government be involved in education? The short answer: Government schooling stands in direct opposition to the liberty this country was founded on. It fosters unquestioning obedience, acceptance of authority, herd mentality, and dependency …;
“Please join us in exploring the problem of state-controlled schooling and the exciting solutions available this very day!”
They have hired local staff, changed their name to the more benign sounding Network for Educational Opportunity and are out raising money from New Hampshire businesses.
We are now in the perverse position of having made a group whose purpose is to shut down public education our sole agent to manage millions of dollars funded by state tax credits.
And what about the schools that would get the money? One will surely be the unaccredited, 340-student Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth. Tri-City was the second main lobbyist for the program, is probably the most active school in marketing the vouchers and works with the California group to defend the program against repeal. Here is some of what they say in their philosophy statement, an essay called “The Education Battlefield:”
“The role of Christian education is to acknowledge … the existence of God, and allow the ‘facts’ of the universe to follow, to His glory. …
“Government schools have assumed a virtual monopolistic influence over the lives of the vast majority of American families with school-aged children. … The use of centralized, publicly-financed, government-owned schools was imported from authoritarian Prussia, and we ‘lived without it’ throughout the formative years of our nation …
“The Unitarian liberals … rejected God the sovereign … King of the universe, and replaced Him with a hapless, helpless God. …
“The centerpiece institution for implementing … a cultural coup de tat (sic) would be universal public education. … The kind of ‘education’ they had in mind … would … replace … Christian theism with the moral relativism of secular humanism. …
“The micro-managers of the secular State cannot tolerate … competition. … Meanwhile, the student-conscripts of the government education corps have become the equivalent of human guinea pigs.”
Tri-City is one of 71 religious schools in New Hampshire, many of which share nationally syndicated coursework that integrates a conservative Christian theology into every lesson, every day. There is no academic accountability in the voucher program, so they can teach whatever they want. Here’s a sample from widely used textbooks:
A Bob Jones University science book says, “Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.”
A popular history book says, “The Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross to target bootleggers, wife beaters and immoral movies.”
From a current events book: “(Homosexuals) have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists.”
Marketed as “school choice for poor kids,” the voucher program grants an almost dollar-for-dollar tax credit (a $10,000 donation costs the business only $429 out of pocket) for supporting this project to replace our public schools with religious schools teaching creationist science.
If you’re a business that wants to help low-income kids, there are better alternatives. You could support New Hampshire’s public charter schools. They are well managed by the state, use credible curricula — and are free to every child in the state.
The program is being challenged in court but, constitutionality aside, there is no legitimate public purpose for voucher tax credit.
Voucher repeal has already passed the House.
Please urge Sen. Nancy Stiles to change her position and support voucher repeal when it comes to the Senate.