NEA-NH President Speaks in Opposition to SB193 – the Voucher Bill

On March 29, NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle spoke in opposition to SB193, the School Voucher Bill, during a press conference held in the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Fearing the passage of SB 193 in the NH House, a broad coalition of teachers, parents, school administrators and supporters of public schools held a press conference in Concord, urging lawmakers to reject the latest proposal to come before the full House.

She was joined in opposition to the bill by representatives from the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, the New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators, the New Hampshire Parent/Teacher Organization, and School Board Members from around the state.

Her full statement appears here:

I did not become a teacher because I was motivated by politics. But every teacher learns very quickly that elections and elected officials decide almost everything about our profession; from class size, classroom supplies, curriculum, working conditions, to educator pay scales and benefits.

Most of the time, local and state politicians focus on how to keep public education costs down. Voters in our towns every year get to have their say on how much money is spent on their local schools – doing the best job they can to both control costs and maintain quality education in their local school districts. They know that the value of their homes depends on the quality of education in their town.

SB193 turns all this upside down. Many of the same politicians, who for years have fought to keep education costs down, support SB193 – which will actually increase the cost of public education and inflict real harm on our public schools – where over 90% of all New Hampshire students attend.

There is no valid evidence that voucher schemes like SB193 improve the performance of either the students receiving vouchers or those left behind in de-funded public schools.
Very few families in New Hampshire can afford to pay the full price for comprehensive K-12 education. That very fact is why, for more than 100 years, the public has collectively supported the education of its children. For that support, the public sits on locally and democratically elected school boards and votes on the final budget and expenditures of the school district.

Public education means the public owns the school. Vouchers take away our ownership, remove parents and taxpayers from the decision-making table, and force us to pay whatever price a private school demands with no access to financial records, student achievement data, and no say into how the school is run.

The absence of public accountability for voucher funds has contributed to rampant fraud, waste and abuse in current voucher programs across the country.

SB193 vouchers do not reduce public education costs; they increase them, by requiring us to fund two school systems, one public and one private. While we support the right of every parent to choose private schooling for their children, it is incomprehensible that taxpayers should be asked to subsidize that decision, and that is exactly what SB 193 mandates. Public money from hard working families across the state should not end up in the untraceable bank accounts of private schools.

SB193 is just the latest in a long list of schemes that have diverted attention from what our children and our schools really need—

  • programs and funding to recruit, train, and retain the best teachers;
  • smaller classes so educators can devote enough attention to each child;
  • high-quality early childhood education programs so children come to school ready to learn; tutoring to ensure that those who fall behind aren’t left behind;
  • and the active involvement of parents and the community. 

New Hampshire parents, the community and the state are getting a fantastic return on their investment in public schools and public-school students and the results speak for themselves – New Hampshire consistently places at or near the top in nationwide measures of school quality and student achievement. The scheme devised by SB193 will do real and lasting damage to public education in New Hampshire.

All students have the right to a great public school. It’s time to stop draining our public schools of vital resources and work together to protect and strengthen them.