Reps. Margaret Kennedy & Vanessa Sheehan: Contrast between parties on education is clear

THERE ARE FEW things of greater importance than a quality education in a child’s life. Learning is the cornerstone for providing the next generation with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking ability to thrive in the future. As lawmakers, it is our duty to ensure every child has the opportunity to receive the best education possible. That is why we were proud to pass legislation providing Education Freedom Accounts (EFAs) to families.

This legislation provides parents with greater flexibility when seeking the best choice for their child’s educational needs. The simple fact is that no two children are the same and a one-size-fits-all system cannot possibly work for everyone. While some families have the financial ability for these necessary changes, many cannot afford to do so.

Education Freedom Accounts level the playing field by giving families the ability to pursue the best path for their children. This is done by directing part of the child’s state education funding to pay for a number of different educational resources, including tuition at the school of their choice, tutoring, or other education expenses. This program’s successful debut has seen it utilized by more than 3,000 students statewide and the number is only expected to grow. This program has the potential to change the lives of thousands of students that otherwise would be left behind.

One would expect enthusiastic support from both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Democrats have a long history of trying to dismantle successful school choice programs. They repeatedly use the same, fear-mongering rhetoric whenever there’s an attempt to change the status quo. Despite the significant body of research supporting the effectiveness of these programs, we doubt we will ever get the support of our Democrat counterparts. It is clear they would rather rip children away from their school of choice than stand up to teachers’ unions and school administrators.

House Democrats have a long history of placing special interests over the educational well-being of New Hampshire’s children. When Democrats last held a majority in the House, they introduced HB 632. This bill would have repealed the Children’s Scholarship Fund, a popular school choice program. During the committee process, the impact of this program was clear. With the threat of having it ripped away, hundreds of families tearfully begged Democrats to leave the program intact. There were countless stories of children thriving after switching schools. Democrats on the committee voted to repeal the program despite overwhelming support. It was only after significant public pressure that Democrats caved and killed the bill using cheap procedural tricks, refusing to even go on record.

The contrast between the two parties on this issue could not be more clear. While House Democrats fight on behalf of special interests, Republicans fight for the students getting left behind in the current system. Even in the face of overwhelming support for these programs, these children will continue to face the threat of having their lives turned upside down. School choice is expanding around the country for good reason. As we approach the November election, help keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction.

Rep. Margaret Kennedy (R) lives in Warner and Rep. Vanessa Sheehan (R) lives in Milford

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