EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 21, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

Private school tuition credits hurt public education

To the editor:

I have taught both special education and elementary education in New Hampshire for 37 years. I have also worked in the development of testing programs. I think our rigorous New Hampshire testing programs have helped advance student achievement, and the new common core standards and tests will promote student achievement even more.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a flawed and unfunded law, and it is the reason most states are asking for waivers. It declares that the majority of schools in New Hampshire and the rest of the country are in need of improvement. Yet, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), New Hampshire ranks ninth in education nationally, albeit down from fifth a few years ago. Most likely this is due to the fact that in the past few years local education budgets have been severely cut. New Hampshire schools have always performed well in comparison to the rest of the nation, and our neighbor, Massachusetts is ranked first in the nation.

Republicans with the House Republican Alliance (HRA) want to keep the tax credits for businesses who offer scholarships for parents who choose to send their children to private schools. This includes people who choose to home school their children. The scholarship amount is limited to a maximum of $2,500 per child per year. About 40 percent (less than half) of these scholarships go to low-income families.

Now, this sounds like a good idea. But let’s do some math to see who it helps the most. The average cost of private elementary schools in New Hampshire is $6,328 per year and the average high school tuition is $9,302 per year. You do not have to be a low-income family to receive this scholarship. Assuming a typical family has two children, how would a low-income family come up with the $7,000 to $13,000 additional dollars per year for the remainder of the tuition? Can these be truly low-income families? The majority of families who benefit from this are not low-income. It’s even better if you own a business, get the tax credit, and have your child get the scholarship too!

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