To The Daily Sun,
The newly released New Hampshire state budget officially establishes a school voucher program, which would allow parents to withdraw their kids from public schools and take a portion of tax revenue allocated to the school for the child’s education with them. These programs are always disguised as a way to give parents “freedom of choice” in education and autonomy over the tax money their children are entitled to, but in actuality they’re an attempt to drain money from public schools to the extent that they can no longer function effectively. That’s when the GOP’s supposed solution steps in: Private education. Private and charter schools are not subject to the same requirements for curriculum and faculty prerequisites as public schools are, meaning there’s a lot more wiggle room for certain programs and concepts, such as “divisive” ones, to be nixed from the curriculum. On top of the continuance of their misinformation campaign, because not everyone can actually afford quality private education, there will be a significant gap in educational value between those who have no choice but to attend deteriorating public schools and those who have the privilege to attend private schools that charge $22k/year in tuition.
In addition to the voucher program, the budget includes provisions to cut the room and meals tax, the business and enterprise tax, the business profits tax, and the interest and dividends tax. What does this have to do with education? Well, that’s how they’re making all this lost revenue up: they’re cutting education revenue by $100 million. This is an assault on public education in New Hampshire like we’ve never seen before, and, undoubtedly, this will disproportionately impact the poor. It will also contribute to our retiree-to-workforce ratio problem. If this state can’t provide its families with quality public education, we’ll continue to turn away young people from living here and our population will continue to age out of work at a rapid pace.
“But wait! Aren’t schools getting a massive aid package from the American Rescue Plan?” Yes, they are, but not enough to make up for the deficit created by the $100 million cut, especially considering that a number of schools will not receive any aid. Another provision of the budget sets the allocation rate for unanticipated funding from ARP, and that provision sets the cap for schools with under 12% of their student body participating in free or reduced lunch programs at zero dollars and zero cents. Gilford High School is one of these schools. Additionally, when asked about where the first round of ARP relief would be allocated, Gov. Sununu did not list education as one of the recipients.
It’s fairly clear at this point that the GOP doesn’t care about youth and families in this state. It’s about time we vote people in who do.