Under the headline, “The case against ESAs: Liberal opposition to school choice,” the Union Leader editorial page had this to say about “SB 93,” probably meaning SB 193, a bill the paper is clearly following closely:
We have finally discovered a government spending program that liberals oppose: helping New Hampshire students get a better education.
We think the reason Democrats at the New Hampshire State House oppose SB 93, a bill to give parents greater control over the state’s adequate education funding, is because teacher unions fear competition. But let’s take a look at the argument they make, namely that state funding for education alternatives would devastate local public schools.
Most parents won’t use the Education Savings Accounts to be set up under SB 93. Their children would continue at the municipal public school provided by local taxpayers. But the local district would no longer receive a state adequecy payment for students who choose an alternative.
That’s the case now. Local school don’t receive state aid for kids who don’t attend. So why should local districts feel entitled to perpertual state funding for children who would otherwise pick a different school?
Opponents of SB 93 don’t really object to children leaving the municipal education monopoly. They object to a state program making that choice easier.
Nor would local schools crumble if more students sought a better education outside of the system. Some school costs are fixed, but lower student enrollment also leads to less crowded classrooms, and for fiscally responsible school boards, lower overall spending.
But there is no need to rely on the Union Leader for the case against vouchers. Sam Osherson of Monadnock United 2018 laid it out in yesterday’s Concord Monitor, based on the fundamental role public education plays as a shared common good in America, the community asset for all families that privatizing public education would leave behind. Mr. Osherson said,
Most of us have grown up in an America built on the idea of a “common good” – investing together in those things that make for a healthy society. Public roads. National Parks. Town libraries. Public schools.
We have come to take these things for granted. Not anymore. Right now, our public schools and many other public institutions are under a stealth attack from groups that want to “privatize” what joins us in common. There is abundant evidence that privatization schemes are give-aways to the wealthy….
Public schools are the bedrock of our democracy. They bring children of different backgrounds together and prepare them to live in a diverse, vibrant society. They are the engines of economic growth and a gateway to economic advancement for families.
Our New Hampshire public schools are not perfect by any means. Good schools require community support, dedicated teachers (of which there are many – teachers are the unsung heroes of our society) and adequate funding.
Instead of draining public tax money away from public schools and toward a group of private schools outside of public oversight, we need elected officials who will dedicate themselves to the achievable goal of excellent public schools for all New Hampshire students.
What do you think?