It would appear that SB 193 seeking to establish education freedom savings accounts for students in NH, will be retained in the NH House Education committee, and not go to the floor of the House for an up or down vote, at least not yet. Supporters are (rightly) concerned that if the bill includes religious schools, it will not garner enough support to pass the House. The constitutionality of allowing public funds to pay for religious education is quite clear: you can't. Part I, Article 6 has this to say: “But no person shall ever be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools of any sect or denomination.”
Seems black and white to me. I find it so disingenuous that the NH House Republican Alliance led by Glen Cordelli, Laurie Sanborn and James Spillane, whose stated purpose is for "...all bills passing the New Hampshire Legislature to be consistent with the New Hampshire and US Constitutions" to simply bypass the constitution with what amounts to a money laundering scheme. You probably didn't know that did you?
Here is how they plan to get around that pesky constitution:
To avoid violating the constitution these taxpayer dollars need to be somehow changed into private funds, which parents can spend on education any way they choose. Hence the “charitable” scholarship-granting organization, and the cleverly named “education freedom savings account.”
Parents open an education freedom savings account with the scholarship organization. NH then gives 95 percent of state adequacy aid per child to the organization. The organization keeps 5 percent and deposits the other 90 percent into the parents’ account.
Wave your magic wand and just like that, your tax dollars are laundered into private funds, which parents can spend on any educational things, including religious schools.
El Chapo couldn't do it any better.
The current adequacy aid formula that parents could receive is about $3,600. Just how far will that money go should parents choose to use it to pay for private schools? Not very in New Hampshire.
In addition to the tuition cost below, factor in transportation and other incidentals, and the cost is out of reach for many. Here are some facts and the fallacy of " education freedom".
According to Private School Review:
- There are 325 private schools in New Hampshire
- There are 28 special education private schools in New Hampshire serving 916 students.
- The average private school tuition is $10,773 for elementary schools and $29,649 for high schools
- The average acceptance rate is 74% ( 10th most selective in the country)
- Minority enrollment is 12% and the student:teacher ratio is 9:1.
- There are 86 religiously affiliated private schools in New Hampshire (26% of all private schools), serving 12,334 students.
New Hampshire private schools are among the most costly in the nation:
- New Hampshire has the third highest average private school tuition, $21,426
- The fourth highest average high school tuition, $29,649 and,
- The third highest elementary school tuition $10,773.
NH private schools are among the most expensive in the nation and among the most selective on admissions. What will be next, legislation to mandate how private schools admit students and charge tuition? Perhaps it will be to increase the adequacy funding to levels that will drive already high property taxes in many areas even higher. The money has to come from somewhere and this scheme is the camels nose under the tent.