Press Releases


Entries in School Vouchers (22)


NH House Republican Leaders React to Lawsuit Challenging School Choice Law 

CONCORD – Today House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) and Deputy House Republican Leader David Hess (R-Hooksett) offered the following comments in reaction to the lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of the school choice law passed by the New Hampshire legislature in 2012. The law allows businesses to donate to scholarship programs for lower income families in exchange for credits against their state business taxes.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler

“We believe the school choice law is constitutional. The policy committees that worked on this issue did a thorough job in ensuring we had a constitutional bill. This law is intended to help less fortunate New Hampshire families expand their education choices. It is a shame that we now have an out of state special interest group leading the charge to challenge this law. This frivolous lawsuit will no doubt cost the taxpayers of New Hampshire money and tie up resources. In the end, we believe the law will stand and New Hampshire will be able to continue this program to empower families by having the opportunity to do what they think is best for their children.”

Deputy House Republican Leader David Hess

“The legislation we worked on for several months and passed last year was modeled after similar legislation that was fully vetted and successfully passed in a number of other states. We wanted to ensure we had a bill that would withstand such a challenge. This is a privately funded scholarship opportunity that makes programs of academic excellence available to moderate and low income families. We are not giving funds to religious institutions we are giving scholarships to families. It is the families’ choice where they choose to use the scholarships.”


AmericanFederationFor Children - U.S. Department of Education Interference Hurts D.C. Voucher Program Enrollment

Despite bigger appropriation and strong demand, fewer children enrolled for 2012-2013 school year

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 23, 2012)—The highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) enrolled 1,584 children from low-income families for the 2012-2013 school year—fewer students than last year—in a reduction that comes despite a near $5 million increase in funding over the previous school year.

The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (Trust), which administers the program, received nearly 1,500 new applications for the 2012-2013 school year, despite being told not to accept applications after March 31 of this year. In addition, the Trust was not given permission to hold scholarship lotteries for new applicants until July of this year.

The lower enrollment numbers are the result of a year-long effort by the U.S. Department of Education to limit participation in the OSP. In March, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal zeroed out funding for the program, contradicting the law he signed last year. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) then sent a letter to the president pressing him and the administration to reverse course and expedite full implementation of the program.

After several weeks of negotiations, Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman announced in June that an agreement had been reached with the Department that would fully implement the program. The Department’s overall implementation guidance to the Trust, however, resulted in just 319 children being offered new scholarships and prevented hundreds of additional children from enrolling, including eligible private school children from low-income families who were specifically excluded.

“It is simply tragic that fewer children are participating in the OSP this year given the availability of funds and the incredibly strong demand from low-income District families,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children and a former D.C. Councilmember. “This program provides children who are most in need with access to a quality education, and it’s appalling that the U.S. Department of Education continues to stand in the way of that vital choice.”

A bipartisan agreement in 2011 reauthorized the D.C. OSP at $20 million annually for five years. Under the FY 2011 budget agreement, the OSP received $15.5 million in funding for the 2011-2012 school year. The appropriation for FY 2012 was $20 million, which covered the 2012-2013 school year. For FY 2013, Congress is currently operating under a continuing resolution through March 31, 2013, which includes authority for the OSP to spend at an annual rate of $20 million.

Following reauthorization of the OSP last year, the demand was so strong that enrollment went from just over 1,000 children to more than 1,600— a 60 percent increase for the 2010-2011 school year. Demand was equally strong heading into this school year.

“Nearly 1,500 low-income families submitted applications to enroll their children in the OSP, but DOE’s guidance meant only 319 were offered scholarships,” Chavous said. “That’s not in the spirit of giving every child hope, that’s not fighting for equal access regardless of family income, and that’s not following the law.”

Because of the limited number of new students participating, a credible federal evaluation of the program cannot be initiated this year. The previous evaluation of the program found that OSP students graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 20 percentage points higher than those interested in the program, but who did not receive a scholarship. A subsequent study by the D.C. Trust found that 94 percent of participating students graduated in 2010 and 2011, and 89 percent of those graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college. The program also enjoys very high parental satisfaction, with 92 percent of parents reporting being very or somewhat happy with their child’s academic progress in the program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is the only federally-funded private school voucher program. Since its inception in 2004, more than 11,000 families have applied for the program, and nearly 6,000 have received scholarships.

Read this release online here.


Josiah Bartlett Center - Charter Schools, Pensions and Golf Courses

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center

Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire

Two weeks ago, the state board of education denied every charter school application before them citing a financial problem that didn’t exist. Further their action circumvented legislation and calls into question whether they should be permitted to continue in their role as the state authorizingagency for charter schools. Their bad actions can be fixed and they should do so immediately as a gesture of good faith to both the legislature itself and the charter school community in New Hampshire... Click here to keep reading


Pease Golf Course turns Profit by Avoiding Debt

State Golf Course Actually Run Like a Business

While municipally-owned golf courses in Concord and Manchester are leaning on taxpayers to cover for losses, the publicly-owned Pease Golf Course continues to turn a profit. Click here to keep reading

Debates and Charter Schools

Grant Bosse and Paul Westcott break down the latest debate between Ovide Lamontagne and Maggie Hassan, covering Medicare, Medicaid, and charter schools, in this NH Watchdog on WGIR Podcast. Click here to listen.

Final Analysis: Pension Fund sees 0.9% Return

Revised upward from preliminary 0.7% Return

The New Hampshire Retirement System announced Friday that the pension fund posted a 0.9% gain for Fiscal Year 2012. Preliminary estimates had projected a 0.7% gain, but upon the final calculation for the fund’s real estate and alternative assets, the rate of return was revised upward. Click here to keep reading.


AFC - News: Louisiana Teachers Union Makes Racially-Charged Claims about Black Education Reform Group

Louisiana Federation of Teachers makes outlandish, groundless claims that Black Alliance for Educational Options “endorses teaching that the KKK is good”

BATON ROUGE, LA (August 30, 2012)—One of the largest teachers’ unions in Louisiana said in a statement early today that the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)—a national group committed to helping give low-income African American families access to high-quality educational choices—“endorses teaching that the KKK is good,” a baseless an unsubstantiated claim that represents a new low in their continued opposition to reforms that challenge the educational status quo.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice, and a strong and unwavering BAEO ally—strongly condemned the remarks from the Louisiana Federation for Teachers (LFT), which appeared in a message posted on the official LFT Twitter page early this morning. The message was followed up with dozens of additional Twitter messages doubling down on the racist remarks, making demeaning statements about BAEO and other education reform groups and individuals, and making false claims about the nature of the statewide voucher program, its supporters, and how it affects children and families.

At no point on the Twitter feed does the LFT substantiate its claims—those that are completely at odds with the mission of BAEO and its like-minded allies.

“This is an absolutely appalling move by an organization that has taken desperation to new and unseen heights,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Federation and the former board chair of BAEO. “BAEO and its allies fight every single day to give children from low-income families access to the best educational options possible. We fight to overcome the institutional bigotry that has sentenced thousands of black children across the country to a substandard education. It’s a sad day when an organization like the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which says it cares about kids, is among the organizations using degrading, race-baiting tactics to demean the very people who are doing their best to give kids hope.”

Chavous also demanded an apology from the LFT, and called on them to retract their statements or provide evidence backing up their unfounded claims.

“The LFT owes an apology to the thousands of black families across Louisiana who, through the work of BAEO and others, have gained access to an education that has changed their lives for the better,” Chavous said. “That the LFT would also stoop to such a level as families pray for safety in the shadow of a hurricane demonstrates more clearly than ever that this is a group that is out of touch with black families, the values of the people of Louisiana, the history of our country, and basic reality.”

This is the second time in just over a month that a local teachers union has resorted to shameful tactics to try to prevent low-income families from taking advantage of the statewide voucher program. In July, a lawyer on behalf of the Louisiana Association of Educators sent a letter to schools participating in the voucher program, threatening them with lawsuits if they did not drop out of the program. So far, not a single school has stopped its participating.

“The resolve of parents and schools is far greater than the threatening or racist scare-tactics from special interest groups,” Chavous said. “Families will not be intimidated, and they will continue to fight to give their children the best education possible.”

Read this release online here.


AFC - School Voucher Recipients More Likely to Enroll in College

New research shows significant increase in college enrollment for African American students

WASHINGTON, DC (August 23, 2012)—A new study released today by researchers at the Brookings Institution and Harvard University shows that African American participants in a private school choice program were 24 percent more likely to enroll in college as a result of receiving a voucher, reinforcing previously-released data showing improved graduation rates, parental satisfaction, and academic achievement among voucher students.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised the findings, which tracked voucher students in New York City over a nearly 15-year period. The research also shows that African American enrollment rates in selective colleges more than doubled among voucher students, and the rate of enrollment in full-time colleges increased by a remarkable 31 percent.

The study, which represents one of the longest-term measurements of school outcomes among voucher recipients, is also the first study to use a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment.

“Once again, the evidence clearly shows that putting all educational options on the table pays dividends for the students, both now and in the long-term,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Federation. “This research makes clear the life-changing affect receiving a voucher can have on a child, and should be a signal to folks across the country that we need to bring more choice to the communities most in need. It is both a moral and an economic imperative that we do so.”

Data for the newly-released analysis was drawn from an evaluation of a New York City voucher program that operated in the late 1990s and granted scholarships to low-income students to attend the private school of their parents’ choice. The New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program served more than 2,600 students, almost all of whom participated in the study.

The results, which were presented today at an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington, are the latest evidence of the success of private school choice programs. The data is consistent with the results of a 2010 study of the D.C. voucher program by the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences that found voucher participants graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 30 percentage points higher than students who stayed in the public schools.

Similar studies showing increased achievement and parental satisfaction have been conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, and Louisiana.

The gold standard study was authored by renowned school choice researcher Paul E. Peterson, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Matthew M. Chingos, a fellow at Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Full findings of the study can be downloaded here.

Read this release online here.