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Despite public hearings in which a huge majority of citizens showed up online to oppose vouchers, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee approved voucher legislation. The legislation already passed the House and will certainly be signed by the Governor. Governor Sununu and the legislative majority are Republicans. Before the 2020 elections, the legislature was controlled by Democrats, who rejected vouchers. Governor Sununu’s state education commissioner home-schooled his children; he has tried repeatedly to defund public schools by allowing students to use their state funding anywhere they pleased.
The vouchers are called “Education Freedom Accounts.” They explicitly guarantee that the private voucher schools will not be required to alter its creed or its admissions policy. The $4,600 voucher will be insufficient to pay tuition at any of the state’s elite private schools.
Senator Jeb Bradley stated at the bill’s hearing that its purpose is to provide choice for parents so that students can succeed whereas they may not be doing so in public school. He estimated the bill’s cost at an average of $4600 per student.The bill hands oversight of EFA applications, notifications, payments and accounting to an independent scholarship organization. Currently, the Children’s Scholarship Fund of New Hampshire is the only such organization. It has one employee. This organization will also approve Education Service Providers [ESPs}.
According to the bill:194-E:7, II – Education service providers shall be given maximum freedom to provide for the educational needs of EFA students without government control…
In order to be approved, an ESP must submit a request to receive payments and agree to follow the rules of the EFA program and to comply with anti-discrimination laws.
V – An education service provider shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum in order to accept payments from an EFA.
Clearly, the Republican party has abandoned the principle of separation of church and state as it pursues the goal of using public funds for religious schools.