A public hearing for HB 20, the statewide voucher bill, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 2 at 1:15 p.m. via Zoom. Members of the public have the opportunity to listen in, provide written and/or oral testimony, and note their support for or opposition to the bill here: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/remotetestimony/default.aspx
Signups for testimony are now open. If you are interested in testifying, we recommend signing up as early as possible, since it is first come, first on the list. You can also provide your name and whether you support or oppose the bill, without speaking.
Virtual testimony is new to all of us, but here are a few tips:
- Keep it short, concise, and clear. The Committee Chair will likely cap testimony at 1-3 minutes, and they will stop you if you go over time.
- Have a short bulleted list of what you’d like to say before you begin, so that you make sure to say everything that you want to say in the allotted time.
- Make it personal. Speak from your own experiences, your own perspectives, and your heart. There are plenty of other people who will speak to the technical details!
- Test your microphone beforehand. Make sure all of your equipment works.
If you plan on submitting written testimony, here are some tips:
- Reference the bill number in the subject line, such as Written Testimony on HB 20.
- Introduce yourself, your role, and the group you are representing.
- Keep the message short, concise, and clear. Legislators receive many emails. They will not read lengthy testimony.
- Focus on no more than 3 key points. Make these points in a bulleted list.
- Personalize the testimony based on your own experiences.
- Be gracious.
- When submitting testimony ahead of the scheduled hearing do so no more than 2 days in advance of the scheduled date.
- You may email the full House Education Committee at this address: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
- To find your local representative and submit testimony to their attention click here. This feature is often used as a way to copy your locally elected officials on communication sent to the House Education Committee. You can also use this feature when and if the bill moves to a floor vote.
About HB 20
Here are some quick facts about HB 20:
- HB 20 would create a nearly universal voucher program, where students attending both public and private schools would qualify for a voucher. Students who enroll in the program must disenroll full-time from their public or charter school.
- There are no provisions in the bill that would protect students from discrimination, but the bill does protect educational service providers from being discriminated against based on their religious affiliation.
- Parents could receive between $3,786 and $8,458, minus administrative fees, depending on the student’s eligibility for state aid programs. The funding would be placed in an “Education Freedom Account,” or voucher, managed by an independent scholarship organization and funded from the state’s Education Trust Fund.
- Parents could use the voucher for various education-related expenses, including private and religious school tuition and program costs, homeschooling costs, tutoring services, computers and software, summer programs, college tuition, or other approved expenses. Recipients are permitted to “roll-over” unused funds from year to year.
- Students with disabilities waive their rights under federal and state disability laws, including the right to an IEP, the right to services, and the right to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
- There is little public oversight for state funds. There is no financial audit requirement for the scholarship organization to ensure that they are appropriately using public funds, nor are participating students required to take, or submit, the statewide assessment that public and charter school students are required to take. There is no requirement that participating students take any assessment of any kind, in order to ensure that public dollars are going towards programs that provide the opportunity for an adequate education.
- HB 20, as proposed, would be the most far-reaching voucher bill in the country. Other states with voucher programs are targeted to low-income students, students with IEPs, and other identified or discrete student cohorts. HB 20, however, would be a nearly universal voucher program that is not targeted and is open to nearly all New Hampshire children.
- Voucher programs have been shown to hurt student outcomes. Long-term studies of voucher programs have shown that participants in voucher programs have significantly lower math and reading scores than those who do not, and that those dips persist for years after the initial study. Other, short-term studies by independent research organizations and universities suggest that voucher programs hurt, or have an insignificant impact, on student outcomes.
If you have questions about this or any other bill, feel free to contact Christina Pretorius, our Policy Director, at email@example.com.
We’re not doing in-person town halls, but if you or your organization is interested in a digital town hall or informational briefing on the biggest education bills this session, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org