Ds Scholarship

Bills To Assess Need Or Eliminate School Vouchers Meet Opposition

Written by Thomas B. Caldwell, InDepthNH.org

CONCORD — One might expect that a new state voucher program repeal bill just launched in the fall would face opposition, but a separate bill, which seeks to ensure Education Freedom accounts go only to families in need of financial assistance. With strong opposition during a hearing before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 237, introduced by state Senator Tom Sherman, a Ray Democrat, will require annual resource tests for participating families. Current law states that once accepted into the program, a student will continue to receive state aid until grade 12, regardless of family income.

“My concern with the Education Freedom accounts was that the family could access that if it was 300 percent of the federal poverty level the first year they applied, but they didn’t need to be reassessed again,” Sherman said. “[If] In the next ten to eleven years, they’ve seen their income grow… they could make half a million dollars a year and still have access to taxpayer dollars with a free education account. “

Compare the lack of financial eligibility requirements for EFAs to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, where the state has strict eligibility requirements and requires families to rehabilitate on an annual basis. “The Senate is a place where we always worry about that,” he said. “In fact, in the therapeutic cannabis program we have fraud concerns. Here, there is no fraud concern.”

Sherman emphasized, “I’m not canceling the program. I’m just saying let’s make sure we protect our taxpayers, and we protect our property taxes.”

There was immediate opposition from some members of the committee who cited the anti-fraud provisions of the law. However, these rules focus on how scholarship funds are used, requiring scholarship organizations that manage the funds to report any suspected cases of intentional misuse of EFA funds, which could result in parents facing criminal charges.

Sherman’s concern is the rule of law that states “Education for All must remain in effect, and any unused funds must be carried over from quarter to quarter and year to year until the parent withdraws the EFA student from the EFA program or until the EFA student graduates from high school, unless the Education for All program closes due to significant misuse of funds.”

Kate Baker, executive director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, defended the voucher program, citing the example of a young man with autism who needed services that public schools couldn’t provide. In order to enroll him in an institution in which he could thrive, the boy’s grandparents placed him in a Montessori school, through a scholarship. Becker said the grandfather, who was a semi-retired merchant, later went back to work to earn enough money to fix the leaky roof, and that the extra work puts them above the scholarship income limits.

“This example is why when you set family income limits, you definitely say to the family, ‘Don’t go to work and make more money if your roof leaks; Don’t take a pay raise at your job, or your child has to drop out of the program.”

She added that they collect income information from families who have applied for free or discounted meals, and if the family’s income goes up, they lose that money, which builds up an income measure of how much the family gets from the assistance.

Senator Jay Kahn, D-Ken, said that if they were indeed collecting income information, it wouldn’t be as difficult to carry out an annual needs assessment as Sherman suggested.

Representative Alicia Likas, R-Hudson, said one of the reasons House members wouldn’t allow a cut after the first year of the voucher program was because “we didn’t want to take a child out of a program they used to work for, and the same if you had a family on the program and it worked. We didn’t. We want to say, “Well, they’re making more money now – which we hope most people will do over time – and now those kids have to be uprooted and sent elsewhere.”

After the hearing, Sherman released a statement: “SB 237 is a commonsense bill designed to protect the financial well-being of the Education Trust. The law simply states that participation in a school voucher program is dependent on an annual resource test, not just once at the beginning of a student’s participation. This is just Good financial management ensures accountability for public taxpayer money diverted to this program from our public schools.”

The second bill the committee heard was sponsored by Khan that would eliminate the Education Freedom Account program.

Points made [for and against EFAs] “Strikingly familiar and similar,” Khan said. “Students from low-income families lack the educational enrichment…that students in higher-income families can access.”

He went on to point out the differences in public school education between school districts called “rich” and “poor” school districts.

“Low-performing public schools likely lack the resources for student enrichment activities and are faced with higher class size. An extra $4,000 to $6,000 per student would definitely help,” he said, “but this legislature doesn’t want to address inequality of opportunity for schoolchildren,” he said. public, only for students who leave public schools.”

Khan and Senator Susan Prentice, Democrat of West Lebanon, noted that state support for public schools has declined in recent years, even given the age of 30. Claremont Court decision that was intended to increase funding.

Most speakers—and there were many who testified— dismissed these concerns, saying that although funding has increased in recent years, it is higher than it was before. Claremont. Despite this increased funding, they said, public schools continued to reduce student numbers. Speakers to support vouchers testified about public schools’ failure to address bullying and harassment in public schools, as well as their failure to recognize learning difficulties.

Among the speakers were private school students who testified to the extent of support and knowledge they received after leaving public schools.

Rep. Likas said: “My view is that the state is supposed to provide the opportunity for a proper education for all students, just as I said…and all students should have it. Why should we take children who are not ‘intermediate’ – whether they have learning difficulties or Smart in learning, they don’t fit in with public school and we don’t teach them – if they don’t get the same where kids go to public school?”

TB Caldwell is a writer, editor, photographer and videographer who has formed and run Project Manager Liberty Independent Media Project. Call him at Liberty18@me.com.

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