School Choice

The Battle Against School Choice in New Hampshire

A program that would help low-income students attend any private or public school they want, or to be homeschooled, is under fire

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here i go again on my own, going down the only road i've ever known
lori05871 / Foter.com

Last year New Hampshire enacted a tax credit to the tune of 85 percent for businesses donating toward K-12 scholarships for low-income students. (There are annual caps of between about $3 and $5 million in total credits statewide.) The scholarships can be used by parents to send their children to any school, public or private, or to homeschool them. Now the program is under attack in the state legislature and in the courts.

Such tax-credit-funded scholarships have been established in 11 states and are estimated to benefit more than 150,000 students. The scholarships are generally successful; in Florida, one study showed the presence of students receiving such scholarships improves the performance of public schools in those students' neighborhoods. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice tracks the performance of all variety of school choice programs. Its 2013 report [pdf] notes that the nascent New Hampshire program "has considerable room for growth," pointing out that the scholarship is capped at 19 percent of what New Hampshire spends per public school student, and that the annual cap (which does grow automatically) limits the scholarship's availability to less than 1 percent of students in the state.

Yet even this is too much for opponents of the program. "The attack is really driven by the teachers unions who don't want to have to compete," the law's senate sponsor, James Forsythe, tells reason.com. "They have a ton of money and lobbying influence." A bill to repeal the law passed the state House last year, though Forsythe argues that "the partisanship is turning," pointing out that five Democrats in the New Hampshire house voted against the repeal. In the Senate, one Republican who opposed the bill when it was first passed, Nancy Stiles, this time testified against the repeal. According to Forsythe, this splits the Senate 12–12, where a majority is needed to repeal the bill.

live free… or not
StarrGazr / Foter.com

That's good, because the state's governor, Maggie Hassan, opposes the law and has said she'll sign a repeal if it comes to her desk. Yet she supports a similar scholarship program for college students—a law the teachers unions do not have an incentive to oppose. (The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment.)

Meanwhile, seven taxpayers are suing the state over the tax credit program. The plaintiffs, supported by the ACLU of New Hampshire and by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argue that the program represents the use of public money to support religious institutions, since scholarships can be applied toward religious schools. "This is just a backdoor voucher scheme," according to the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rev. Barry W. Lynn. "Whether it's through a traditional voucher or a tax credit, the result is the same: Taxpayers are subsidizing religious instruction." Yet that argument would be just as applicable to Hassan's college program.

More importantly, the K-12 program is a tax credit–generated scholarship that includes no appropriation of public money, similar to charitable deductions offered in the federal tax code. So it's difficult to argue that the credits represent a public subsidy. Indeed, it may actually save the government money: The fiscal note prepared for the final bill projected the program would save the state more than a million dollars in its first three years, with expenditures going down at a faster rate than revenue.

Despite this, Democrats argue that the tax credit constitutes a lost opportunity for government spending. "I feel that if we cannot adequately fund our public schools and we cannot adequately fund our charter schools, we should not be creating yet another program until we do the other programs properly," Democratic Rep. Lorrie Carey told the Concord Monitor. Marc Goldberg, a spokesman for the governor, went further, claiming the tax credit "diverts millions of taxpayer dollars to religious and private schools with no standards or accountability." In a hearing on the repeal bill, Rep. Mary Gile, another Democrat, called the credit "public money," claiming it constituted "poor fiscal policy and poor educational policy."

Joining in the lawsuit as intervenor-defendants are several parents taking advantage of their program. They're being represented by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm. The lead attorney on the case, Don Komer, says the argument that the tax credit is the functional equivalent of the government giving money "ignores all the private decision making involved," from the businesses who decide to donate to the scholarship organizations that decide to whom to award the money, to the parents who decide where to send their children. (Thus far, only one scholarship organization has been approved by the state.) Komer notes that the federal establishment clause has long permitted these kinds of tax credits to support charitable activity. The dispositive hearing is set for April 26.

One of the parents the Institute for Justice is representing, Shalimar Encarnacion, told the Manchester Telegraph that she doesn't understand opposition to the program, which could help her send her children—one in remission from cancer, the other diagnosed with ADHD—to private school. "This is something for kids," Encarnacion told the Telegraph. "The people that have issues with it, they're not thinking about the kids….This gets businesses to invest in their communities, to better their communities. Seeing that will make students better citizens. What's wrong with that?"

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  1. “This is something for kids,” Encarnacion told the Telegraph. “The people that have issues with it, they’re not thinking about the kids….This gets businesses to invest in their communities, to better their communities. Seeing that will make students better citizens. What’s wrong with that?”

    What’s wrong with it is, of course, that it puts control into the hands of people other than the Self-Annointed Experts.

    1. what Kathy responded I am amazed that some one able to make $7366 in one month on the internet. did you read this web site… http://goo.gl/ASVr8

  2. “School Choice” is a terrible misnomer. No one is forced to steal from their neighbors to educate their children. The turd that the government provides at the expense of someone else isn’t polished? Tough shit.

    1. Fuck you.

      Don’t feed the troll.

      1. A completely expected and appropriately lucid response from an advocate of today’s socialist indoctrination public schools. I appreciate you making my case for me.

    2. New Hampshire pays about $13,000 a year for each student. I’m pretty sure there are a few private schools that are cheaper.

      However, if you still want your child to go to school on the taxpayer’s dime, then you should be restricted on where you can go. That includes any schools that costs more than the public school system (unless if you want to pay for the extra cost out-of-pocket)….as well as restrictions on religious schools to respect secular taxpayers

      1. Fuck you.

        I pay taxes for stuff I dont agree with. The voucher program is not an idealist program, but nothing is ideal right now. Its certainly better than Public Schools. And you’re a real dumbass for claiming that religious people can’t use their vouchers to send their kids to their chosen schools. As long as its an accredited school, it should be of no concern to you. Those EVUL religious people have had their taxes used in instances they definitely disagree with (Abortion, etc). Get used to it asshat.

        1. you would love to get your education of choice on my dime, wouldn’t you?

          until I can convince the government to stop requesting taxes on services I don’t support or use…..tough shit

          1. To call it your dime is asinine. The money comes from tax credits, not from your taxes. Unless you think you are entitled to all the tax money and any taxes not payed is stolen from you.

            And as the article pointed out, these scholarships decrease costs more than revenue does, so it ends up saving taxpayers money.

            1. kicking the government out of education would be much easier

    3. When was the last time you were in a school? Were you ever in a school? Where are you getting your evidence that public school for children is a socialist indoctrination program?

      1. Have you read a history book? It’s a government fellation fest. Every single big government policy in history is championed whether it was actually a good policy or not.

        Either that or it’s big government swooping in like superman to save the day from those “evil” corporations. Who probably weren’t all that bad.

  3. Maria. even though Carl`s article is something, last tuesday I bought themselves a Lotus Elise when I got my check for $6112 this – 4 weeks past and just over $10k last-month. with-out any question its my favourite-job Ive had. I began this nine months/ago and right away made more than $79 per hour. I went to this website,,
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  4. But they might go to a religious school and learn about religion!!!1!1! Better they go to a public school and learn nothing at all.

    Barry Lynn is quite the useful idiot.

    1. I’m not having my taxdollars used to spread religion

      1. No worries then, since it’s not your tax dollars but those of the businesses claiming the credit, and none of them are forced to

      2. It’s a tax deduction people can take if they contribute money for the education of poor kids.

        How that can be unconstitutional, but tax deductions for donating to the Salvation Army can be constitutional, is beyond me.

      3. Fuck you.

        I pay taxes for stuff I dont agree with. The voucher program is not an idealist program, but nothing is ideal right now. Its certainly better than Public Schools. And you’re a real dumbass for claiming that religious people can’t use their vouchers to send their kids to their chosen schools. As long as its an accredited school, it should be of no concern to you. Those EVUL religious people have had their taxes used in instances they definitely disagree with (Abortion, etc). Get used to it asshat.

  5. Alt text makes me think of a toddler wailing on a sick drum set.

  6. Why should only poor kids and their parents be able to claim back what was stolen from them(taxes)? Middle Class people can’t afford to pay property taxes AND pay for a decent private school.

    Also,
    Fuck you Kasich for not expanding edChoice.

    1. Why should only poor kids and their parents be able to claim back what was stolen from them(taxes)?

      Ahh, yet more evidence of the abject failure of public “education”.

      There is no moral justification for stealing. “I was robbed” is NOT a moral justification to steal from others. Since you know for a fact that people who do not have children are also similarly taxed you know for a fact that they are being coerced to provide some part of the shitty indoctrination which public schools produce.

      Even if you could identify to where your taxes went you know that at least some of the cost is born by others. Stealing part of the cost of your children’s education is still stealing.

      Middle Class people can’t afford to pay property taxes AND pay for a decent private school.

      Fuck you with a rusty chainsaw.

      1. Taxation isn’t theft. Theft is using public resources and not paying for them.

        1. Then people should only be taxed at a rate that reflects the services they use no?

        2. Holy shit. Did Tony just call public schools, subsidized healthcare and the welfare state theft?

          I guess we’re rubbing off on him.

          1. Tony wants welfare queens to stop stealing services they haven’t paid for.

      2. “Fuck you with a rusty chainsaw.”

        I see I touched a nerve. Probably because I undoubtedly just shattered the “assumed” monopoly on “caring” about the middle class.

  7. I don’t understand why people don’t just narrowly challenge the use of these voucher/scholarship programs to fund religious instruction instead of challenging the whole program on those grounds. Wouldn’t it be perfectly constitutional if the voucher program were simply not allowed to be used to fund religious instructions or religious institutions?

    1. I don’t understand why people don’t just narrowly challenge the use of these voucher/scholarship programs to fund religious instruction instead of challenging the whole program on those grounds.

      They don’t want any challenges to government-sector monopolies.

  8. The ACLU’s objection is absurd, unless their position is that all charitable giving should not be tax deductible if the recipient is in any way affiliated with a religious organization.

    1. Dunno about their position, but it sounds good to me–and should to a libertarian.

      1. No, a more libertarian position is that charitable giving should not be tax deductable, period end of story.

        To single out religious giving is just militantly atheist, not libertarian.

  9. As a resident of NH, I’m appalled at this lawsuit. The fucking unions can’t stand the thought of anyone else getting money from any source if it has to do with education.

    Most of our school spending is funded via property taxes as we have no sales or income tax. My tax bill is $4400 per year (although I do get a $500 Veteran discount) and my kid is 22 and in grad school. Yet I still fund the local public schools.

    NH spending per student is a little over $13,500 per year and that puts us at 12th in the country (adjusted for regional cost differences). Even with that amount of money spent per kid, God forbid the unions see money going to someone else. Fucking pigs.

    1. My tax bill is $4400 per year (although I do get a $500 Veteran discount) and my kid is 22 and in grad school. Yet I still fund the local public schools.

      There is a simple phrase to describe public education. Something with the words need and ability.

    2. The left is all about power for themselves, not empowering the poor.

  10. “This is just a backdoor voucher scheme.”

    Duh. The only reason needed to oppose it. When people who actually believe in universal education come up with a reform plan, that will be worth listening to.

  11. The poor should have the choice not to procreate, but once they do, the state will make the important choices for their children, thank you very much.

  12. Such tax-credit-funded scholarships have been established in 11 states and are estimated to benefit more than 150,000 students.

    That 150,000 children have a chance of not becoming herp derping Tonys is something the overlords simply will not tolerate.

    For one to have the ability to think for themselves is strictly forbidden.

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    People Magazine reports the Gates Foundation is offering full paid tuition to all American kids with Polio who were born in India or Pakistan wanting to attend their Microsoft~Bing www Hardcore Adult Porn Gates Charter Schools..

    According to the new press releases,every child attending Gates Charter schools get to meet & interact with their very favorite Microsoft Bing www Porn Star at recess or lunch~Time..

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  15. The idea that a tax credit for one person is an expense to some other person who pays taxes is more objectionable than anything. These kinds of assumptions never get called out.

  16. Grace. even though Larry`s artlclee is really cool, on monday I bought a top of the range Mitsubishi Evo since I been making $4974 this month and also $10 thousand lass month. it’s certainly the nicest work Ive had. I actually started nine months/ago and almost straight away began to bring home minimum $79 p/h. I use this website,
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  17. before I looked at the check four $6664, I didnt believe …that…my brothers friend woz like realy earning money part-time from there computar.. there great aunt has been doing this for only thirteen months and by now repayed the loans on their condo and got Mercedes. go to, http://www.fly38.com

  18. I just realized this was written in 2002. I wonder what the gun crime rate is now. Any government that tells you that you have no right to self defense is not looking after your best interest. Self defense is the most basic right anyone has. No government or police can protect you. I can’t believe you all allow this to continue. I keep a gun at home for self defense and have a license to carry it concealed any where I go. And I do. If I am attacked then at least I have a chance to stay alive. By the time the police arrive they can either arrange for my body to be picked up or take a statement from me. I choose the later. Britons let a right be taken from them and now it will be much harder to get it back. But you should try.

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