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My Letter to the Valley News on SB 193

January 18, 2018

Here is a letter I submitted today to our regional newspaper, the Valley News, expressing my opposition to SB 193, the voucher bill being considered by the House and Senate… and certain to be signed by our governor if it lands on his desk:

Two articles in Wednesday’s Valley News reinforced my opposition to SB 193, the New Hampshire bill establishing education savings accounts for students.

In Concord Monitor reporter Lola Duffort’s article on the Finance Committee hearing on the bill, she noted that at least 84,500 New Hampshire students — about half of the state’s public school population — would be eligible for the vouchers issued as a result of the passage of SB 193. This far exceeded the numbers forecasted by advocates for this bill. The article goes on to report that “To sway certain moderate Republicans who worried about the bill’s potential impact on local school districts, the bill was amended to include so-called “stabilization grants to partially reimburse districts for losses tied to the program.”  I do not understand how legislators who claim there is no money available to address the lawsuits dealing with inequitable funding of public education in New Hampshire can find funds for “stabilization grants” to underwrite vouchers for homeschoolers and private schools.

The AP story about the horrific case of the enslavement of 13 children in California also raised serious concerns. The article noted that mistreatment of these children was made possible because the parents used the cover of a “private day school” to avoid the monitoring of their abuse by any government agency except the state and local fire departments. This incident raises a question for any legislator who is contemplating an affirmative vote on SB 193: “What safeguards will be put in place to ensure that parents receiving homeschooling grants or vouchers for private schools are providing a bona fide education in a safe and appropriate setting?”

I trust that advocates for SB 193 can explain where the additional funding for “stabilization grants” will come from and why that additional funding isn’t being used to help those public schools who have been shortchanged for years. I also trust they can explain how this legislation will ensure the safety of all school aged children, including those who are not attending “government schools”.

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