Since 2012, the town of Croydon has been battling over school choice, and it has become the face of the statewide debate, according to the Concord Monitor:
The matter first kicked off in 2012, when the town voted to end its exclusive contract with Newport schools, where for decades the town had sent their students after they graduated from Little Red. After a transition year, the school board instituted a school choice program, paying a set tuition amount to the school of a family’s choosing – including private schools.
The state Department of Education began asking questions about the program in 2014, and the next year, formally told the district to stop the practice, saying it was illegal. The three-member board, led by two libertarian activists and a parent whose children attended the Montessori school, refused. Using connections with the Free State Project, they enlisted former state Supreme Court justice Chuck Douglas to represent them, and they raised more than $20,000 in private donations for legal fees to go to battle with the state…
Like many in the town of 750 residents, Turner thinks the school board was in the right. For her, school choice makes sense.
“Not every kid learns the same way,” she said.
“I think that we’ve got too much government telling them what they can and can’t do anymore,” she said of public schools. “A lot of that is the standardized testing.”
But not everyone agrees. Amanda Leslie, another Croydon resident, is all for school choice – her own child attends a Sunapee school thanks to the district’s program. But that school is public.
“I have been opposed to spending public money on private schools since it was first brought up… Public education is already underfunded,” she said.
Vermont has a similar program, and a study found that a disproportionate number of wealthier students took advantage of the program and went to private schools, while their low-income peers stayed in public school:
“These trends suggest that academically strong students are choosing other options, and the acuity of need for the students remaining in public school has been increasing,” the NEASC wrote.