AFT-NH President Deb Howes' Testimony on Voucher Rules

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AFT-NH President Deb Howes' Testimony on Vouchers
New Hampshire State Board of Education
101 Pleasant St
Concord, NH 03301

 

Dear Members of the State Board of Education, 

We write to you today to urge adopting strict rules around the so-called education freedom accounts to ensure that taxpayer money used for this program is actually spent to further a student’s education and not just to line the pockets of the scholarship organization or to be used for things that would not otherwise qualify as an educational expense.

Currently, it is up to the scholarship organization to audit the expenditures of the families who participate in the voucher program. The organization only makes money from handling the accounts for each participating family, so they have little incentive to displease the families by opposing requests. Public money will be used to fund this voucher program and unlike money used to fund our public schools currently, there is no mechanism to make sure this money is being appropriately spent. This is especially true for our students with Special Education needs. The rules of the program should be clear so any differential Special Educations aid must be used to support the student’s unique learning needs. As Granite Stater’s property taxes are poised to skyrocket due to this unaccountable program, they deserve to at least know what the cause of that tax increase is.

As the State Board of Education, you have a responsibility to both the taxpayers of New Hampshire and the students of New Hampshire. I urge you not to cede your rulemaking responsibility to an outside scholarship organization accountable to no one. Taxpayers pay hard-earned money into state coffers so that children will get a good education. While I oppose funding parent choice through tax money, if we are going to do it – let’s make sure that rigorous rules are written, and careful oversight of each penny is happening. Additionally, it will be important to track the impact of this voucher program on the public schools in each region. That is the responsibility of each member of this Board.

We ask that the State Board do what is appropriate and create stringent rules that help to shine light on this program rather than have peoples’ hard-earned tax dollars be used secretly and without any accountability.

Sincerely, 

Deb Howes,   AFT-NH President