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
Entries in School Choice (82)
CONCORD, NH – The Network for Educational Opportunity (NEO) released
Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn released the following statement today on the New Hampshire Superior Court decision addressing school choice.
"We are disappointed with today's decision and are hopeful that this ruling will be overturned by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
"Education choice is about parents being able to find the best possible educational opportunities for their children, regardless of family income. The School Choice Bill has leveled the playing field, offering even our poorest students the opportunity to access the educational environment that is best for them.
"Governor Hassan has attempted to repeal this important program and demonstrated an elitist and callous disregard for the most vulnerable students in our community. Private funds, not taxpayer dollars, support Education Opportunity Tax Credit Scholarships raising more than $150,000 to support the nearly 250 students who have applied to the program. It is obvious that citizens of New Hampshire are supportive of this critical program and want to see it continued."
Bipartisan support helps empower parents to make best educational choices for their children
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 14, 2013)— The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina House of Representatives for passing a budget that provides funding for an educational choice program creating new opportunities for thousands of North Carolinian children. North Carolina’s educational choice program received bipartisan support and is tailored to children who participate in the federal free or reduced lunch program.
“North Carolina families and children are grateful for the courageous leadership from bipartisan members of the House who fought for educational choice,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “This common sense legislation strengthens North Carolina’s education system by empowering thousands of parents with the opportunity to make the best educational choice for their children.”
As the legislation currently stands, funding will be increased each year, allowing an estimated 12,000 children attend the school of their parents’ choice.
The educational choice program is a part of the budget legislation and now heads to conference committee before being presented to the governor.
“This legislation enables students to obtain new educational options by allowing the funding to follow that student to a school that best fits the child’s needs,” added DeVos. “Parents and students across North Carolina remain hopeful that members of the House and Senate conference committee will recognize the importance of the educational choice program and the opportunities it will offer to countless children.”
The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high quality educational options for families.
Read this release online here.
Last week the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to reinstate Governor Hassan's request for public charter school funding. This move will save the state over $5.5 million in federal funds and protect the new schools that just opened last year. At a time when many are frustrated with a broken political system in Washington, New Hampshire residents can be proud that public education is seen as a bipartisan issue in the state.
Without the Senates support, the risk of losing the federal grant is real. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, New Hampshire is one of only a few states with an active federal grant. The U.S. DOE has been unable to award any new state grants since 2011, due to lack of funding. There are now 25 states that have charter school laws, but no federal funding.
The atmosphere at the hearing was collegial, non-partisan and serious. Senators from both parties voiced concerns that many of the provisions included in HB2 (as passed by the House) would harm public charter schools and risk millions in federal grant funds. Testimony by the Department of Education at two separate hearings confirmed these risks.
Senate Finance took a thoughtful approach by requesting that the policy committee vet the proposed changes in HB2 and report back their findings. The Senate Education Committee then held a public hearing on the proposed changes in HB2 and heard testimony from the NH Department of Education. A strong bipartisan consensus emerged and Chairman Nancy Stiles reported the committee's findings to Senate Finance. After some discussion the committee voted unanimously to support Senate Education's recommendations.
Since the senate's decision last week, our office has received hundreds of emails and phone calls from parents, charter school supporters and applicants wanting to know more. There are too many to publish however with their permission, I have included some responses below. A common concern in almost every letter that I read is the desire that our legislators work together to provide options for all children.
The Center joins "The Facebook"
If you haven't heard already the Center recently joined the world of social media on the inter-web. Check out our Facebook page for updates on all things charter schools.
Greetings charter school supporters!
It's National Charter School Week and we have a number of charter school updates for you.
Students in Manchester had an exciting visitor recently when Governor Hassan stopped by to tour their new school. Mill Falls Charter School welcomed Governor Hassan to campus on Wednesday, April 10th, offering her (and her accompanying staff) warm coffee/tea and breakfast treats. The tour included a brief presentation of their start up story as New Hampshire's first public Montessori school and a presentation by two Mill Falls students who demonstrated how a Montessori work is used to master a concept.
Founder and Board Chairman Meryl Levin said of the visit: "The Governor spent time in all four of our classrooms, and seemed to really enjoy her conversations with the children and staff. She was definitely relaxed in the nurturing environment of a Montessori classroom and was impressed with the level of energy the students put into their daily work. She encouraged the staff to build good channels of communication with other public schools to engage and share our educational approach with the larger community."
Members of the Senate Finance Committee seemed to agree last Friday and questioned why such significant changes were not vetted in policy committee first? The atmosphere was bipartisan, serious and you could tell that committee members wanted to fix what had occurred in the House. Very positive!
Students at the Academy for Science and Design recently received some exciting guests of their own when over a dozen New Hampshire legislators stopped by to tour the school. It was wonderful to see members from both parties present and engaged with students. The tour included a question and answer session and lunch with legislators giving everyone the opportunity to learn more about ASD and the work of the state legislature.
Public charter schools remain trapped in a web of posturing and politics. Whether by coincidence or by design, the BoE's decision to deny all pending charter school applications last September enabled some members of the House to take charter schools and over $5.5 million in federal grant funds hostage during budget negotiations.
It looks as though it will be late June before the madness is over. If this ordeal has taught the state anything it is that we need to separation again between the entity that approves or denies charter school applications and the legislature which funds or does not fund them. HB299 would return the law to its Pre 2011 language and fix the problem however that bill is being held captive in committee. (See trump card video)
You can read more about the posturing and politics in this article by the Associated Press
From the Report, "New Hampshire dropped from #19 to #30 because the state board of education enacted a moratorium on the approval of state-authorized charters".
The State had been making incremental but positive gains over the last few years. In 2011, a change to RSA 194:B removed the cap of 20 schools and made the State Board of Education a permanent charter school authorizer. Only a year later however, the Board denied all pending charter school applications.
If you haven't heard already the Center recently joined the world of social networking on the "interweb". Check out our Facebook page for updates on all things charter schools.