Contact Legislators re ESAs

The Education Savings Account bill, SB193, passed the NH House and is now under review by the House Finance Committee. Below are several suggestions for writing an effective letter to legislators re the financial impact of ESAs. The entire committee can be emailed at HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.

 

WRITING AN EFFECTIVE LETTER TO LEGISLATORS

KEEP IT BRIEF

  • Keep letters brief and to the point. Only discuss SB 193 in your letter. Make sure your statements are clear and concise.

IDENTIFY YOURSELF

  • Begin with an introduction of yourself, using a simple statement such as “I am a mother of 3 school-aged children” or “I’m a father of 2 girls in middle school.”

URGE THEM TO SUPPORT SB 193

  • In the beginning of your letter, you should directly ask the members of the House Finance Committee to support SB 193.

GET TO THE POINT

  • Use the statements below to create your letter. You can cut-and-paste some of the statements, or use them as a reference to write your own.

RELATE IT TO HOME

  • Use a personal story or anecdote from your family or someone you know that will help drive home the point with the House Finance Committee members. Explain how having access to additional educational opportunities would make a difference in the education of your child or children of your friends and family.

SIGNING OFF

  • Close your letter by again asking members of the House Finance Committee to support and pass SB 193. Be sure to sign off with your full name and address.

 

GENERAL POSITIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

In New Hampshire, our “one-size-fits-all” approach to schooling just doesn’t work for everybody.

Not all kids learn the same, and parents and families need educational opportunities other than the “cookie cutter” school system we currently have.

Families need educational opportunity so they can choose personalized education options that are right for their children.

Since every child learns differently, no one school can possibly offer what every child needs in order to flourish.

Every parent knows that not only is each child different, their learning needs and speeds are different, too. But currently, our public schools are “one-size-fits-all.”

It’s long past time for our state to look to the future when it comes to educating the next generation.

We need to begin to make New Hampshire a laboratory of education innovation, with many different types of educational opportunities that parents and families can choose from.

Our children need every available educational opportunity if they’re going to succeed in the 21st century.

Every family should champion these new educational innovations, so that American children have a real shot at a 21st century education that can compete with the rest of the world.

 

SPECIFIC POSITIVE POINTS ABOUT SB193

SB 193 provides families with a variety of options when it comes to the education of their children.

SB 193 will finally allow parents and families to have the opportunity to find innovative solutions for their children to have a quality education.

SB 193 creates “Education Freedom Savings Accounts” that give families a portion of the education tax dollars that follow our state’s students directly.

If a student’s family earns under 300% of the poverty level, they would qualify to receive funds that could be used for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, advanced opportunities like college prep and online classes, and various special education needs like learning therapies.

SB 193 is intended to give the children of parents earning under 300% of the poverty level the same opportunity that middle class and wealthy parents have for their children now – a way to find an educational option that works for their child.

SB 193, the “Education Freedom Savings Accounts” bill, provides a child’s family with their share of our state’s education money that they can use directly on approved educational expenses.

SB 193 provides a wide-array of much needed educational opportunities including tuition, tutors, educational therapy, textbooks and additional curriculum, college prep, and even online classes.

School tuition, tutors, online classes, and college prep would no longer be out of reach of middle-and-lower-income families.

 

EASILY REFUTING SOME OF THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST SB193

Opponents of SB 193 say that district schools will be hurt by what’s projected to be a miniscule loss of revenue. But shouldn’t the objective of public education be to adequately educate our children?

The NH Supreme Court has already decided in 1955 that education money should follow the student – wherever the family thinks is the best option.

SB 193 presents one simple question: are you in support of children and their success, or a “one-size-fits-all” system that everyone knows isn’t working for all students?

SB 193 is clearly constitutional. The state constitution prohibits the “support of a particular sect or denomination by the state,” the NH Supreme Court ruled in 1955, however, “It was not intended that members of a denomination should be deprived of public benefits because of their beliefs.”

The New Hampshire Supreme Court decided in a 1955 opinion that once public funds were allocated to the students, the families were able to use them anywhere they want – even at a religious school.

Opponents of SB 193 are clearly saying to those whose child cannot flourish in the district school system, “your child does not deserve to have the opportunity that other kids do to succeed.”

Quality educational opportunities shouldn’t be limited only to families who live in the most elite zip codes.

All kids, not just rich kids, need the opportunity to receive the education that fits them best.

The American ideal of the “separation of church and state” is such that we have the freedom to practice any religion we choose, or not, while our government can never establish an official religion. This was never meant to restrict or prohibit people’s religious freedom.

 

SPECIFIC FINANCIAL INFORMATION FOR SB 193

The money will follow the child to whatever educational endeavors their family thinks are the best fit, and state oversight would monitor their progress.

SB 193 would allow families to use state money that was already allocated to that child’s education to help pay for new learning opportunities.

Opponents of SB 193 say it hurts “public education”, but any educational endeavor financed by the public to meet the state’s constitutional obligation under Article 83 constitutes public education.

In New Hampshire, public education often is provided through tuition contracts with private schools. Local school boards pay private schools to educate students. SB 193 simply creates a different type of tuition contract.

Under SB 193, ESA’s would be administered by a scholarship organization, and five percent of a student’s per-pupil adequate education grant would be allotted to the scholarship organization to cover administrative costs. Opponents say this wastes money that should be devoted to public education. But that 5 percent fee is about half what the public school system currently spends on administration.

Currently, 9.7 percent of public school system spending in New Hampshire is dedicated to administration costs. SB 193 cuts administrative costs nearly in half by only using 5 percent, and leaves more state money to be spent directly on public education.

Even using opponents’ most dire prediction, in which 5 percent of New Hampshire students take advantage of ESAs to pursue educational opportunities outside of their assigned district, those districts hold on to more than 98 percent of their funding.

The current economics of SB 193 are simple: Even if 5 percent of students leave their assigned district, the districts keep 98.7 percent of their budgets. These figures show the financial impact without the stabilization grants that are included in the latest House version of the bill. With those grants, the impact would be even smaller.

 

RESEARCH ON OUTCOMES AND EFFECTIVENESS

Meta-Analysis Finds Positive Impact of School Choice Programs finds that overall positive and significant achievement from educational options

Harvard Kennedy School Study – The Competitive Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Public School Performance finds that vouchers help low-income minorities graduate high school and earn college degrees at higher rates

Harvard Kennedy School Study – School Vouchers Help Low-Income Minority Students Earn a College Degree (see pages 12-14) finds that almost all studies of the effects of voucher programs on district school performance find neutral to positive effects

 

Students are more than test scores. With educational options, parents are more satisfied, kids get to escape bullying or attend schools that have a program they like (e.g., STEM or drama/arts, etc.), and so on. They achieve all this at a significantly lower cost per pupil. When families have more educational choices, it’s a win for children, taxpayers, and society at large.

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