To the Editor:
A recent letter claimed that I have done more to damage public schools than any other legislator. Let’s put it another way – I have been a leader in working to make sure that every child will have the opportunity for the education that best meets their needs. That is a badge I will proudly wear.
As to the claim about damage to public schools, it is an historically false claim. A decade ago, when there was a debate about legislation to create the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the same claim was made. It was false then and is false now.
In fact, analysis of studies on public school achievement, when there is significant school choice available, found that 25 of 27 studies showed positive impacts.
In terms of financial impacts, I’ll point out that 13 Wolfeboro students and none in Tuftonboro left for education freedom accounts this school year. When a student leaves, only the state funds follow the student – on average about $4,500. All local funds stay with the school district. In the Governor Wentworth School District, the estimated 2021 per pupil cost was $21,305 so approximately $16,805 local funds per student would stay in the district. In addition, the program includes a phase out of the state funds. But the program will severely damage public schools? We should be talking about the damage to kids stuck in a school in which they are not learning.
I should also note that the education freedom account program has a family income cap so only low income families are eligible. Until now only wealthy families had education choices. But it seems that is the way Democrats want it to remain. This year there was legislation to repeal the program and kick 2,000 students out and send them back to the school that was not meeting their needs. The bill thankfully was defeated. However, all but one House Democrat voted to repeal the program. And if Democrats are so concerned about advancing public schools, why did only one Democrat support my bill to allow public schools to get waivers from administrative rules in order to innovate?
Should only wealthy families be able to provide their child with the education options that meet their needs? I say “No.” If New Hampshire children are our future, we cannot fail the future by leaving children trapped in schools not meeting their needs. The schoolhouse doors must be open, not just for the wealthy, but for all children.
Rep. Glenn Cordelli