Statement from NEO Executive Director Kate Baker Concerning Strafford County Superior Court Ruling

CONCORD, NH – The Network for Educational Opportunity (NEO) released
today the following statement in response to the Strafford County
Superior Court decision affecting the nonprofit organization’s
scholarship program. Below please find comments from NEO Executive
Director Kate Baker:

“NEO works to expand educational options for students who receive
need-based scholarships sourced from private contributions. To date,
our organization has more than 1,000 scholarship applicants – bright,
young, talented students many, in settings that are failing to meet
their individual learning needs. These student applicants and their
families are counting on us to empower them to overcome barriers to
choice in education. We at NEO will not rest until we have delivered
on our promise to help all parents surmount these obstacles.

“Today’s ruling is regrettable since it imposes a limitation on the
options available to parents. With all due respect to the court, the
judge attempts to take away many parents’ right to direct the
educational futures of their children. We are optimistic that justice
will prevail in our appeal to the NH Supreme Court because the U.S.
Supreme Court has ruled that tax credits are private contributions.
Therefore, the false constitutional argument being bandied about
stands on fragile footing.

“All options should be available to parents seeking to be the ultimate
decision-makers on what arrangements suit their children’s precise
learning needs. Today’s ruling, then, changes little through the
troublesome practice of exclusion. For many parents, the ruling
perpetuates a core challenge. It shifts the current system from a
‘one size fits all’ framework to a ‘choice for some as we see it’
arrangement. This ignores what options-hungry parents tell us they
want, and it fails to meet the definition of authentic choice.

“NEO scholarships are building bridges for children from a school
where they are struggling to a school where they can succeed. We’re
giving hardworking families the power to choose schools that are right
for their child. Parents know what’s best for their children in all
facets of growing into adulthood. Certainly education should fall
within parental jurisdiction before others presume to weigh in.

“The battle for education choice in New Hampshire is a long game.
Once more, we will not rest until we keep our promise to our
applicants, and authentic choice in education is preserved in New