Letter: Education Freedom Accounts bill is a giveaway

Published: 02-19-2024 11:13 AM

Three years ago, New Hampshire embarked on a program that, in theory, would provide financial aid to students and families unable to afford private or homeschooling opportunities. In the first year, the price tag was about $300,000 for 1,635 students. In year two, enrollment was 3,025.

Current enrollment is up to 4,211. The cost is reported at $23.8 million for this year, of which 10% goes to administer the program. About 75% of the students enrolled in the voucher program never even attended public school. This gives the lie to the contention that Education Freedom Accounts (EFA) were helping those for whom public school wasn’t a good fit.

Last week, the House voted (by one vote) to raise the income eligibility limit from $109,000 to $150,000 for a family of four. One estimate suggests this increase will cost the state $66 million per year. The bill was quickly moved along to the Senate without the usual review by the Finance Committee, suggesting that perhaps Republicans worry about closer scrutiny of a program that has so far produced no quantitative data about student performance and has no oversight of recipients. Another bill on the docket would remove any income requirements at all.

This looks like a misguided giveaway that is draining necessary dollars from our public schools. They are facing dire financial challenges to their mission to provide a quality education for all our students.

Eleanor and Douglas Cochrane