Please send an emailstating your support for HB693, the School Choice Certificate Bill (see attached). Although this bill will not bring school choice to all students, it will be a beginning. Send your email to the House Education Committee - addresses below (copy and paste as a group):
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Some points on school choice:
- The “rich” have school choice; the “poor” do not.
- Competition works; school choice improves all schools.
- A child should be able to go to a school that is best for that child, not a school determined by zip code.
- Other countries allow parents to choose the school that is best for their children.
- Studies show that students who are allowed school choice are more satisfied with their education and do better on standardized tests than those who have no school choice.
- Per pupil spending on public education in the US has more than doubled since 1971, yet the longer American students stay in school, the further behind they get as compared to their counterparts in other countries. (Stupid in America, How Lack of Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of a Good Education, documentary by John Stossel.)
- The “state’s obligations in education are to individual children and youth; these obligations are not to a school system or to educational institutions.” (Virgil C. Blum, Freedom of Choice in Education.)
I have attached a letter from a supporter of HB693. It very aptly describes why this state and country are in desperate need of school choice.
The executive session for this bill will be held on Thursday, 2/22/07, at 9 am, room 207 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. Please send your support letters before then, if possible.
Testimony of: Richard Evans
25 Tumble Road
Bedford NH 03110
Former School Board Member, Londonderry
HB 693: In Strong Support
Since the Claremont II decision, school funding per student in New Hampshire has approximately doubled while inflation has risen by around 30%. Despite all the new buildings and smaller class sizes, which the public education establishment assured us would be the universal educational panacea, average SAT scores have stagnated.
This is certainly not surprising. The way the law stands today, public education is an ironclad monopoly. Parents are prohibited from using their share of the public dollars to seek out the most effective school for their children. A monopoly system, by its nature, will never do more than pay lip service to performance issues because it has no competitive motivation for even making the attempt.
High level math and foreign language skills are generally considered to be the most likely predictors of who will find success in the new global economy. Still, in 2005, with a statewide senior class of around 15,000 students in public education ( the rest had already dropped out ), only fifty-eight students, or one in every two hundred and fifty, managed to demonstrate a capability in foreign language by passing the Advanced Placement ( AP ) Spanish Exam. Only fifty-nine passed French. In calculus, which can reasonably be regarded as the threshold of technological competency, only one of every forty students was able to convert twelve years of public school math instruction into the right answers on the AP Exam.
Private schools perform much better. Comparatively, in calculus, approximately one in ten of all private school students achieved the grade of three or higher which is usually considered a pass.
The laws of supply and demand ensure that the value of low skilled and semi skilled labor in the world is declining rapidly. There is, to all practical intents and purposes, an infinite worldwide workforce willing to exchange a day of manpower for less than ten dollars. The only defense that we have against being pulled into this race to the economic bottom is to differentiate ourselves, as a state and a nation, through the development of intellectual capital.
I can tell you from personal experience that we are not doing well in this endeavor. Many of the people I have encountered, who are working for a pittance in plants in China and Mexico, appear to have academic skills at least as strong as their peers in the United States. The commonly held view of inept third world labor, toiling hopelessly at sewing machines in sweat shops, is a myth.
I know that many of you on this committee have strong ties to public education and will cast a vote against this bill as a means of preserving the security of institutions that you may have been associated with in the past. Before you do so, I would respectfully request that you carefully consider the following:
1) It is 25 years since the Bell report first raised questions about school performance. If all the money and effort expended in that time has failed to generate improvement, is it really reasonable to assume that it will ever happen without a change in infrastructure and motivation?
2) Even if we did partially privatize the education system, there would still be exactly the same total number of students in the state and therefore the same number of jobs for teachers. Actually, the teachers might do better financially because private schools tend to have lower administration overheads.
3) If lowering class size is your objective, it is far cheaper to do so by buying students out with vouchers than by building new classrooms or new schools.
4) The program proposed in this bill is much less ambitious than the universal school choice program signed into Utah law a few days ago. With everything that is at stake, isn’t it worth experimenting with a tiny initiative like this just to find out if it can work where other avenues have so demonstrably and measurably failed? Can we afford not to?
5) Finally, under the economic circumstances extant in the world today, it would be an act of almost astonishing cruelty to vote against a bill that would allow children from poor families to gain access to private educational environments that could quite literally change their lives.