Updated: Oct 9, 2022
by Julie Thompson
The Educational Freedom Account (EFA) offers grants for families making up to 300 times the poverty level to spend on tuition to non-public schools and/or educational supplies (typically) for homeschooling
Here’s what’s wrong with it:
The vast majority (77-90%) of the EFA money went for religious and other private school tuition. This is a problem because the EFA money is taken from the state’s Educational Trust Fund. This is a NH state fund for public schools.
The state budgeted $130,000 for the EFA the first year (2021-2022) and they spent 8 million! The next year (2022-2023) it spent 14.7 million! You can see where this is going. Our public funds for public schools are getting siphoned off and if the trajectory continues, municipalities will have to further cut school budgets or raise property taxes. Public schools are hurting already. Just ask any teacher. NH ranks dead last in the country for state support to public schools according to the Concord Monitor.
The EFA exacerbates another problem. Schools in New Hampshire are funded primarily by property taxes. When state funding decreases, property taxes inevitably rise, which unfairly impacts less wealthy communities and their students’ education as there is only so much money to go around. Poor schools lead to stagnation in economic development and a less educated workforce. Everyone loses.
Finally, the children benefiting from EFA funds did not switch away from public schools because they were unhappy with them as some (Gov. Sununu, Commissioner Edelblut) have stated. The majority of EFA recipients already attended private and religious schools, but now NH taxpayers pay them to do that!
This attack on public education would not have happened with either a Democratic governor or a Democratic legislature. A Democratic legislature would never have passed this voucher system. A Democratic governor would never have signed it into law. We are faced with this misdirection of public funds as a result of Republican control of all branches of New Hampshire state government. Our current governor cannot or will not protect the state from the degradation of public education that Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut is systematically pursuing. With Sununu at the helm, he will always ensure the state’s coffers are full, and force the cities and towns to scramble for funds to function.
New Hampshire Public Radio story on Commissioner Edelblut: https://bit.ly/3Ernfhh
We are all reeling from the higher costs of everything we have no control over, but we can toss the ETA in the trash, where it belongs. Write your lawmaker, and then write Governor Sununu to remove Commissioner Frank Edelblut while you’re at it: https://www.governor.nh.gov/contact-us And even more importantly, vote on November 8! We need Democrats in office to change directions and support our kids and teachers!
About the author
Julie hails from Portland, OR but has spent most of her time in NH. She received her BA from UNH in Sociology and lived at on a farm in Strafford with her then husband, working as a bookstore manager, then manager of stores for NH College before returning to school for a MEd in Counseling. She worked at Strafford Guidance as a crisis counselor, and after getting divorced, she moved to Dover with her children Elizabeth and Ben, and became a school counselor. She relishes her time with them and granddaughter, Frances. Other passions are music, enjoying the outdoors on land and water, and friendships. She is a member of the Energy and Environment and Voting committees. Julie adds: “I love the Dover Dems for what they stand for and their contributions to humankind, and am proud to be a member even though I live in Durham.”
Photo: Julie participating a Dover Dems Visibility for the 2022 Midterm Election.