NEA-NH Testifies in Opposition to Voucher Expansion

“I am writing to you today to express our strong opposition to HB 464 and HB 367, legislation that would greatly increase the amount of funds directed toward our school voucher program by expanding the eligibility of the program. The bills appear to do so by eliminating the income eligibility among a variety of categories of students.” This is how the testimony submitted by NEA-NH for today’s hearings on HV 464 and 367 began.

The evidence is just too stark to justify the use of public money to fund private expenses and tuition. Vouchers fail to deliver for the kids who are often most in need. As parents and educators we want more for our kids than skills we can measure on tests. But not at a cost of diminishing academic results, as more and more research into voucher programs is finding.

  • HB 464 would expand the voucher eligibility by adding new categories of students regardless of their family income. This legislation would greatly expand a program that has already siphoned millions from public education. 
  • HB 367 expand the income eligibility of the program to 500% of the Federal Poverty Level, which for a family of 4 in 2022 is $138,750. In other words, this would be expanding the eligibility by 60%.
  • The bills propose no new funding stream to pay for the costs associated with expanding eligibility. They are another blank check to be covered by the education trust fund – whose purpose is to fund public education in New Hampshire.  So far, most of the vouchers that have been awarded went to those who were already in a private or homeschool setting, not those who left their public school. 
  • The current voucher program has had little oversight and there is mounting evidence that vouchers do not work on the large scale pushed for by advocates today. 

The current program in the first biennium is already more than 300% over the estimated costs, mostly due to the new spending since three quarters of families receiving vouchers continue to be those who had already elected a private or other school setting for their child. Now, the Commissioner is asking for at least a doubling of that annual cost according to their budget request sent to the Governor.

Vouchers harm cash-strapped public schools’ ability to provide needed classroom resources for all students. Despite claims that school voucher programs lead to corresponding gains in student success, there has been no credible research to suggest that vouchers improve academic performance. If anything, some programs have been found to have a negative impact on student achievement. 

Any program that takes money away from our schools is harmful to our students and to our system of public education. All public school students deserve a great education right where they live, and anything that’s aimed at destroying that is something we have to prevent from happening.