The House Education Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 193, the voucher bill on Tuesday, November 14 at 10:00 in Legislative Office Building 206-208. Although the bill will go to the full House in the upcoming legislature no matter what, this vote is an important test.
The Dover School District and the Dover City Council have written a letter and Dover Superintendent of Schools William Hebron has written his own letter to the New Hampshire House Education Committee opposing SB 193, the voucher bill.
Both letters are strong and eloquent. Here are excerpts.
The Dover School District and City Council said:
The charge of a public school system is to develop highly educated citizens. The passing of this bill promotes the privatization of education and could lessen the philosophical purpose of public education. Public schools also are tasked with educating and annually assessing students…The State of New Hampshire continues to struggle with the ability to provide the essential resources to adequately fund public education, yet the passage and funding of SB 193 makes funding a voucher system a higher priority than adequately funding public schools. Any legislation proposing to reduce the state funding to our public school jeopardizes the system and places a higher burden on municipalities.
From Superintendent Hebron’s letter:
Creating a voucher system funds choice at the expense of the public schools. There is no sound rational or evidence to support the creation of a voucher system….Public schools have a philosophical mission to develop highly educated citizens who are essential to sustaining a democratic society. The passing of SB 193 will promote the privatization of education as well as increase the potential erosion of the philosophical purpose of public education. As stated by Honorable State Representative Wayne Burton, ” Individual choice trumps the greater good of our communities.” I believe state legislators have the ethical and moral responsibility to look out for the welfare of the greater community.Public education is a foundational pillar that strengthens the welfare of the community.…This bill has the strong possibility of creating an inequitable education system in New Hampshire. The bill is at the expense of students who do not have the financial ability to attend private schools or who have specialized needs that may not be addressed in private schools and adds to the financial class divide. The strength of public schools is in their diversity. It is a strong possibility, whether an unintended consequence or not, that this bill moves public funds from students of low socio-economic status to students of higher socio-economic status…..Annually, the Dover School Board presents a budget to the City of Dover for consideration and funding. Public schools provide programs and services that are purposefully designed and implemented to meet the needs of all learners. Each fiscal year is plagued with identifying and providing the essential funds to provide adequate programs and services to meet the many educational needs of all students. As funds for public schools diminish, it directly impacts the programs and services that are afforded to students to advance their learning and achievement.Without knowing the potential financial implications for public schools with the enactment of SB 193, it would be irresponsible to move forward with this legislation. The State of New Hampshire continues to struggle with the ability to provide the essential resources to adequately fund public education, yet the passage and funding of SB 193 makes funding a scholarship fund/voucher system a higher priority than properly and adequately funding public schools. I do not find that funding a voucher program is a wise and prudent use of limited tax dollars. SB 193 will further exacerbate the funding of public schools.