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Entries in School Vouchers (17)

Thursday
Aug232012

NHDP - ICYMI: Lamontagne pans 1877 decision 

State banned funds for religious schools


Ovide Lamontagne's desire to repeal a 19th-century amendment to the state Constitution came under fire yesterday as Democrats continue to push education as a top issue in this year's gubernatorial race.

At a recent forum featuring Lamontagne and his Republican primary opponent, Kevin Smith, the Manchester attorney used a discussion about school vouchers to express his opposition to an 1877 state constitutional amendment "which specifically states that no taxpayer dollars can be used to support religiously affiliated schools."

"That was an anti-Catholic, Know Nothing amendment which we adopted," said Lamontagne, a graduate of the Catholic University of America who served as chairman of the state Board of Education in the 1990s. "I urge the people of New Hampshire . . . to repeal that amendment and then we can have a debate about to what extent we want to provide full school choice and vouchers to schools that are religiously affiliated."

Lamontagne's comment was captured on video and posted to YouTube by the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Yesterday, party Chairman Ray Buckley and state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, took aim at the Republicans' gubernatorial front runner.

"I'm not sure if Ovide Lamontagne is running for governor or auditioning for Hot Tub Time Machine Part 2, Buckley said. "But listening to what he says on the campaign trail, he wants us all to go way back in time on education."

"We believe in public education," D'Allesandro said. "He wants us to go back to that 19th century creation where public money went to these private institutions. I think that's a travesty."

This is the second time in two weeks that Democrats have highlighted education in the race for governor, arguing that a strong public education system is fundamental to economic recovery. Last week, they held a press conference condemning remarks by state GOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald that implied Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan was using education as a distracting "side issue" instead of focusing on jobs and the economy.

Lamontagne and Smith have both expressed support for a school voucher system passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year that creates a state business tax credit to fund scholarships for students to attend private schools. At the forum, Lamontagne said the scholarship fund is "exactly" the kind of education initiative the state should be pursuing.

"We need to get the bureaucracy out of education so we have really a system that was designed after World War I, and it needs more site-based management," Lamontagne said. "That's the direction we need to go in."

D'Allesandro called the voucher system a "tragedy." Buckley said the most recent Legislature and Republican positions over the years have shown "a lack of commitment to public education" that "is something that is very troubling to the general public."

"The people of New Hampshire like their schools, they support their school programs," Buckley said.

Buckley said Lamontagne's role as chairman of the state Board of Education "was a major issue in the 1996 gubernatorial race," in which Lamontagne lost by a wide margin to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen after beating former Republican congressman Bill Zeliff in the primary.

"I suspect that the people of New Hampshire will react just as negatively, just as poorly, to even his updated versions of his positions of public education," Buckley said.

 

Read the Concord Monitor article here.

Friday
Aug102012

4RG - MAGGIE HASSAN ABANDONS POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS CHILDREN’S EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Candidate Lives At One Of Nation’s Most Elite Schools, Wants to Prevent Access For Less Fortunate

CONCORD, N.H.—Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Maggie Hassan continued her track record of mean-spirited hypocrisy by pledging to repeal a scholarship program that allows less fortunate children to attend private school all while living on the campus of one of the nation’s most prestigious prep schools, according to 4RG Chairman Andrew Hemingway.

NEA-NH-endorsed Maggie Hassan lives on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy, which was ranked by Forbes as the sixth best prep school in the country. Her husband, principal of the prestigious private school, rakes in a salary of $250,000 a year. 

Yet, Hassan, when talking with a group of supporters about ways to bring in more money so she can increase government spending, suggested: “you can repeal this school voucher system that [Republicans] just passed, which is going to divert money to private schools.” (Please view this video starting at 4:07: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQcXIbjGi-g.)

Hassan was referring to SB 372, which offers a tax credit to companies that put money into a scholarship program that will help poor and middle class students attend a private school.

“Maggie Hassan is perfectly comfortable launching her political career from the grounds of one of the nation’s best schools where her family lives and receives a substantial financial benefit, yet she is very quick to deny poor and middle class children the chance to attend a private school with children of her same financial capacity,” Hemingway said. “Do New Hampshire residents really want a governor who gives lip service to middle class families and those even less fortunate all while denying these same people the educational opportunities that her children have always had?

“I think it’s about time that someone shines a light on Maggie Hassan’s hypocrisy,” Hemingway added. “Maggie Hassan lives by a double standard under which people of her ‘stature’ deserve the best money has to offer, but children of middle- and low-income families have to be subjected to NEA-run schools that aim to provide an ‘adequate education’ at the very best. Don’t middle class and lower class children deserve the same ‘excellent education’ that Maggie Hassan’s two children received?”

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About 4RG
4RG, which means “For a Republican Governor,” was founded by Andrew Hemingway as a PAC focused exclusively on supporting Republican candidates for governor. 4RG intends to fill voids in grassroots organizing, polling, door knocking and literature drops for Republican governor candidates all across the country. Additionally, the organization will promote its candidates online using social media technology developed by the founder. Please donate to 4RG to help us augment Republican governor campaign activities where we’re needed most, which will slowly help us work to restore our state governments as the strong Republics they once were. For more information, visit www.4RG.org.

Saturday
Jul282012

American Federation for Children Condemns Teachers Union Bullying of Louisiana Schools

I just wanted to make sure you saw the pretty remarkable news concerning lawsuit threats from the Louisiana Association of Educators' against individual voucher schools if they did not drop out of the program. We wrote a release about it yesterday -- please see below.

And as I'm sure you've seen, The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge had a pretty direct -- and telling -- front page this morning. You can take a look at it here.
 
If you have any questions about the story or would like comment from the reform angle, please feel free to contact me. My information, both email and phone, are below. Thanks!

Malcom Glenn
National Director of Communications
American Federation for Children
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As low-income families access scholarships, threat from union lawyers aims to hurt thousands of families statewide

BATON ROUGE, LA (July 26, 2012)—The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—today condemned the actions of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), after counsel for the teachers union yesterday sent threatening letters to schools participating in Louisiana’s statewide voucher program, urging them to drop out of the program or face a lawsuit from the union.

The letter comes despite a judge’s ruling two weeks ago that dismissed a union attempt to get an injunction stopping the program.

In the letter, which was faxed to participating voucher schools yesterday evening, a law firm retained by the LAE union threatens to initiate litigation against individual schools if they do not pledge—in writing—by 4 p.m. local time tomorrow to cease participation in the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program.

Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Federation, denounced the bullying tactics as a remarkably cruel attempt to block children from attending the schools their parents have chosen for them.

“It’s despicable that adults would use the threat of legal action to stop schools from accepting students who desperately want a better education, thereby squashing their dreams and those of their parents,” Chavous said. “Even by standards of the typical special interest bullying tactics, this is an unbelievably demeaning and insulting action that aims ultimately to hurt the futures of thousands of children.”

The threatening letters to schools on behalf of LAE are in contrast with the strong demand for the program. LAE’s actions came just a day after the Department of Education announced the extension of 5,637 scholarship offers to students to participate in the program this fall—just a portion of the 10,300 applications the Department received—illustrating that any attempts to stop schools from participating in the program are at odds with the demand from parents.

Of the initial scholarship offers, 84 percent of students in first through 12th grade attended a school rated “D” or “F” by the state last year.

An accountability proposal from the department was also approved by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) on Tuesday, further strengthening the program prior to yesterday’s bullying letters.

Chavous, a former D.C. City Council member who has also worked for years to reform education in Louisiana, reiterated that the recent LAE move was unprecedented in its callousness.

“Personal power should never, ever be put ahead of the best interest of disadvantaged children,” Chavous said. “These union leaders have no shame.”

Read this release online here.
Thursday
Jun282012

ALG's Daily Grind: Delaying fiscal cliff better than lame duck fix

June 27, 2012

Delaying fiscal cliff better than lame duck fix

The Congress as currently composed and this Administration have proven incapable of producing a good deal for American taxpayers.

Video: The President Pushes America To Become Europe

You want Europe, Mr. President? You got Europe. Check out your economy.

Pelosi's Supreme Court hope

Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi has predicted that Obamacare will be upheld 6-3.

Voucher Applications Roll Forward in Louisiana Despite Legal Challenges from Teachers Unions

Parents and students who are ambitious to switch out of failing public schools have until June 30 to submit applications to be submitted to the state education department for scholarship funds that can be used to cover the full cost of private school tuition.

Thursday
Jun282012

Kevin Smith applauds legislature’s vote to override veto of school choice bill

MANCHESTER – Today, Kevin Smith, Republican candidate for governor in New Hampshire, made the following statement regarding the vote to override the veto of SB 372, establishing an education tax credit for school choice:

“Today, New Hampshire took a major step toward real education reform in our state by overriding the governor’s veto of SB 372, which will allow businesses to receive a tax credit by establishing a program to award scholarship funds to New Hampshire students to attend a school of their choice.

“Students benefit from competition and choice – just like in our economy. By making school choice a reality and creating a greater array of options in education, everyone benefits andschools get better. What’s more, students and parents deserve the greatest amount of latitude in determining the right path for their schooling. Senate Bill 372 will help give the decision making authority back to the families and not those who wish to protect the status quo.

“Other states have employed innovative solutions to empower families and students, and provided real choices in education. Here in New Hampshire, the Democrats and Governor Lynch catered to labor unions and opposed this needed reform. In vetoing this bill, Governor Lynch showed how our children’s education has been high-jacked by special interests. Instead of looking out for the interests of New Hampshire’s families, he ignored them. I commend our legislature for uniting to override his veto of SB 372.

“Despite what Governor Lynch indicated, SB 372 is not about shifting funds among schools – it’s about giving students choices in education and getting our business community to more directly support the future workers of our state. If we are to put New Hampshire on a path toward greater prosperity and economic competitiveness, we must strengthen public schools and support choice in education. We cannot compete in the 21st Century economy without a skilled workforce, and that begins with giving students the tools they need early in their academic lives.

“Improving public schools, and providing parents and students with greater choice and flexibility to get the education they need is a vital component to ensuring that New Hampshiredoesn’t fall behind its economic competitors in the future. And, it’s the right thing to do for our kids. Today, the State Senate and House have ensured that New Hampshire’s families will decide how education funds are spent for their school-aged children, not the government.”