CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) offered the following statements on the passage of Senate Bill 372, which will offer up-to $2,500 scholarships to students toward the cost of out-of-district public schools, independent schools, and even certain homeschooling expenses. SB 372 passed 236 to 97.
House Speaker William O’Brien
“No parent should be forced to send their child to a bad school. While many kids flourish in their assigned school, some students need a different educational environment. No child learns exactly the same as others and each child has his or her talents and strengths. This potential can best be realized when a child and their families have the ability to choose what school they believe will best engage, prepare, and educate them for the future. Parents know their children best and this will allow families those choices.”
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt
“Education unfortunately has become not about what is best for the kids but about the money. Our top priority should be the students. If you come from a rich family, you have school choice. But what about the child that doesn’t come from a wealthy family and that student needs something different than the traditional educational path? Unfortunately, other than the choice to uproot and move to a different school district, most middle class families have lacked choice in education, which is a barrier preventing many children from achieving their full potential.
“With these scholarships, students and families can investigate and select the educational forum that best suits their needs. The best school for a child may offer smaller class sizes, or a vocational technical program, or a ‘move on when ready’ system for gifted students, or a particular expertise with a child’s special needs. In addition to better serving our students, choice will empower their parents to get engaged in their children’s education. These reforms will create better accountability in education—proven the single biggest factor in improving academic performance.
“Scholarship programs are a low-risk first stop in educational innovation. Similar programs have been tested as successes in eight other states. Moreover, studies from Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Arkansas have shown that school choice programs have positive impacts on academic performance. As for school choice in general, 18 of 19 studies in Milwaukee, Florida and Washington D.C. showed improvements in educational outcomes directly related to school choice. We sincerely hope that the Governor will stand up to special interests and on the side of the hundreds of needy students seeking educational choice and opportunity.”