Representative Mel Myler (Contoocook), a member of the House Education Committee, urged New Hampshire residents to reject SB 193, the statewide voucher bill, in a letter to the Concord Monitor:
Last week, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives approved Gov. Chris Sununu’s school voucher bill, Senate Bill 193.
This piece of legislation will hurt public school students to send money to unregulated, unaccountable private and religious schools. Should New Hampshire Senate Republicans pass this bill, it will cause serious damage to our public schools, while also creating a segregated school system that overwhelmingly benefits wealthy and suburban students.
Students with disabilities will be the disproportionate victims of the voucher system. Private schools aren’t required to create infrastructure to account for physical disabilities. They also don’t have to train teachers on how to ensure that every student, regardless of any learning disability, gets the education they deserve.
Because public schools are funded by the government, they must comply with regulations that give all students equal access to education. Private, parochial and religious schools are under no such obligation.
Regardless of Sununu’s intentions, this bill does not promote school choice; it promotes a segregated school system. Those who cannot attend private schools because of a disability or lack of nearby options will be forced to attend schools with vastly decreased funding, subjecting these students to schools that will no longer have the resources to provide a proper education.
People who can leave, however, will be attending schools that aren’t regulated at all. Under SB 193, a school like the Tri-City Christian Academy could profit from state funds. Just last month, this Academy came under fire after it banned a student (who was on track to be valedictorian) because he was transgender. This is the type of school that stands to benefit financially under Sununu’s law.
It is disheartening to see Sununu’s attitude regarding public school students, but it’s not entirely surprising particularly after he chose Frank Edelblut, New Hampshire’s very own Betsy DeVos, as education commissioner. Edelblut not only advocated passionately for school choice, but he even donated to the Croydon School Board’s legal defense fund after it illegally gave education funds to a religious school.
New Hampshire public schools are widely acknowledged as being the best in the country. No voucher system is remotely necessary. If Republicans care about Granite State students, they can continue to strengthen and secure our public school system so it benefits everyone. When we have strong public schools, we ensure that every student, regardless of their physical disabilities, learning disabilities, gender identity or economic status, can learn and reach their full potential.
Thanks to Sununu, this bill has passed the House of Representatives and will head to the House Finance Committee before it goes up for a full vote in the Senate. Every single Granite Stater who cares about education must reach out to their state representative. If we mobilize and work together we can do our best to stop this bill and preserve all students’ access to quality education.