NH Dem, Who Sends Her Kids To Private Schools, Wants To Force School Choice Kids To Go To Government Schools First
All of the Democrats in the New Hampshire Senate are supporting a bill to force kids eligible for the state’s school choice program, the Education Freedom Account (EFA), to attend government schools for a year before they are eligible to access the program. The logic behind this legislation is that kids should try government schools before they know that they don’t like them.
From NH Journal:
[Senator Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham)] acknowledged in her testimony there are some students for whom their local, assigned public school “may not be the best fit.” But she added, “We can’t know how anything fits without first trying it.”
Using EFA funds “should require families avail themselves of the educational opportunities offered to them first,” Altschiller said. “Before opting out of the public school system, take advantage of the educational opportunities in your community provided to you.”
It’s a “very simple requirement,” Altschiller insisted.
But for the parent who testified immediately after Altschiller, it was anything but.
James Van Nest of Dorchester, N.H. asked if he could get some clarification about how Altschiller’s bill would work for a father like him.
“I have a 5-year-old who started home school this year — does she need to go to second grade for a year, and then come out again, so we can take advantage of the funds?” he asked. Van Nest testified his family tried the local public charter school with his son, but it wasn’t a good fit and they pulled him out. “My son hasn’t finished a full year of public school. Does he now need to re-enter the school system and then can we use the funds once we take him out?”
This seems reasonable on the surface. After all, as the old saying goes you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. The reality is that this proposal is intended to make it more burdensome and more difficult to take advantage of this school choice program, thereby keeping children trapped inside the government school monopoly.
But the attacks on school choice don’t stop there. Democrats want to force EFA families to reapply for economic eligibility every year.
In addition to mandating at least a year of public school before parents can choose the best option for their children, the Democratic legislation would also mandate EFA parents reapply for economic eligibility each year, rather than when first enrolling a child. EFA funds are only available to families earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty line. EFA advocates oppose this because it could force children to change schools simply because their family’s finances fluctuate, or an older sibling moves out of the household, which changes the poverty-line calculation.
Education Committee member Senator Timothy Lang (R-Sanbornton) said the legislation is “an attack on low and middle-income families.”
“It’s truly shocking that Democrats want to force a child to first suffer through a full year of a public school experience that parents already know won’t work — and to the detriment of the child’s educational progress — in order to access EFA funding. It’s more proof the Democrats’ priority is helping teachers unions, not focusing on the best educational outcome for our New Hampshire children.”
This is the danger with “rescue” school choice legislation. The teachers’ unions and their allies can simply red tape it to death. At this point, we should settle for nothing less than universal school choice and patriotic education in as many school as possible.
But it gets better, many of the Democrats involved, including the author of the legislation are private school parents. They just don’t want the poors to have that opportunity.
EFA families packed Tuesday’s hearing to tell their personal stories of children they believe benefit from the program. In conversations after the hearing, several advocates noted that Altschiller is one of the many EFA opponents who chose to reject public schools to educate their own kids. They attended elite Phillips Exeter Academy, with $50,000 a year tuition bills, and Berwick Academy, a more affordable $30,000 per year.
She is hardly alone. Senator Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua), a co-sponsor of the bill, sent her son to Groton School, a private boarding school in Massachusetts that currently charges close to $60,000 a year. And former state Senator Tom Sherman (D-Rye) mounted an unsuccessful race for governor last year on a platform of shutting down the EFA program and increasing spending on public schools. But he sent his son to the Governor’s Academy in Newbury, Mass., a private school with tuition approaching $70,000 per year.
They even admit this is all about keeping the poors out of private schools and trapping them in government schools.
Republicans say that is economic hypocrisy — wealthy liberals who say public schools are great for low-income families but inadequate for their own children. But progressives like Representative Rosemarie Rung (D-Merrimack) defend that view, describing EFAs as a “handout” to low-income parents.
“Parents have always had the choice to send their kids to any private/religious schools or to homeschool. Now they just get a taxpayer handout to do it,” Rung tweeted. And, she added, letting parents choose the best schools for their children is not “for the public good.”
“[EFA’s are] literally the definition of a government handout,” Rung tweeted. “My goal is to have taxes spent on the public good. It doesn’t make sense to take money for the public good to spend on private enterprises without public accountability.”
It’s not everyday a lefty admits that your child not getting the best education possible is in “the public good.” That’s why decisions like educating your child needs to be left in the hands of parents, not bureaucrats. The vast majority of parents know what’s best for their children while a bureaucrat only knows what’s best for their system.
Anyway, this legislation has no chance of passage considering that Republicans control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature and the governor’s mansion.
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Author: Kevin Boyd
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