Legislative Proposal Would Repeal State Education Freedom Accounts | State

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A total of 1,635 New Hampshire students, including dozens in the Monadnock area, are participating in a new program that uses state money to pay for their private education, a program Senator Jay Kahn would like to implement. end.

Democrat Keene is proposing legislation that would repeal the so-called Education Freedom Account program, which has been lauded by the GOP and generally opposed by public school advocates and Democrats. Interest in the program has far exceeded projections by NH’s Department of Education.

“I am opposed to public funding of private and religious schools,” Democrat Keene said in a recent interview. “I believe our mandates are to provide an opportunity for adequate education in our public schools.”

Kahn said the voucher-like program, which began this year, puts the state in a position to support more than 100 participating private education providers. This list includes several local schools such as Trinity Christian School and Saint Joseph Regional School in Keene, as well as Dublin Christian Academy, according to the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which has a contract with the state to administer the program.

“It dilutes the state’s ability to serve all students and to do so in a way that has a lot of transparency and accountability,” said Kahn, whose Senate District 10 covers Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson. , Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester.

In a press release last month, NH’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut praised the program, which serves 36 students in Keene, 26 in Jaffrey and 26 in Rindge, the area municipalities of Monadnock with the highest participation in the program.

“This is a real milestone for New Hampshire, especially as the pandemic has created a clear demand for new and extensive educational options,” he said. “Education Freedom Accounts provide families with the opportunity to thrive while using personalized learning, tutoring services, vocational schools, technical schools, home classes, and non-public and private schools to improve and personalize academic experiences. “

The program is available for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line, or $ 79,500 for a family of four. It provides the basic public assistance available to students, which is approximately $ 4,600.

While Kahn’s bill would do away with the program, other measures, backed by the GOP, would expand it by increasing income eligibility levels or allowing local education funds to be added to funding for the program. program.

Other bills, backed by Democrats, seek to improve program oversight by requiring audits or more scrutiny of education service providers. Another Kahn-sponsored bill would require families to meet income requirements every year, instead of just once upon entering the program as is currently the case.

The NH legislature will begin considering bills after its session begins next month.

These articles are shared by the partners of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborationnh.org.

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