Accountability in the proposed voucher paln

While Florida's accountability language is 10 pages long and many other state require real accountability of the private schools participating in their voucher programs, here is the accountability section of HB 1607:

(A) The aggregated results from a survey, designed by the department of revenue administration, and administered by the scholarship organization which shall solicit and receive information from at least 90 percent of the parents or legal guardians of participating students, broken down by the number of years in the program. In each case, the respondent shall be asked to gauge their level of agreement with the statement as follows: “strongly agree,” “agree,” “no change,” “disagree,” “strongly disagree.” The following statements shall be included in the survey:

(i) I am satisfied with the school my child is attending as compared to the school my child attended prior to the availability of the education tax credit program.

(ii) My child has seen a measurable improvement in academic achievement.

(iii) My child would have been unable to attend the school of his or her choice without the education tax credit program.

(B) The survey shall include the following question to the parent or legal guardian of a participating student: “Excluding the education tax credit scholarship, how much did you pay out of pocket for your child to attend school this year?”

That, plus a reference to a committee developing something in the future, is proposed as the entire accountability requirement in the New Hampshire voucher plan.

No other state has offered soft-ball parental satisfaction questions as an accountability provision, much less listed them right in its legislation.  The effect in this case is to give a legislator scanning the bill the impression that accountability is there while ensuring that no meaningful survey could be slipped into place in the future.

Although this does not pass the straight-face test, it may be working.  When the voucher plan passed in the Senate, Senator Forsythe, the prime sponsor, emailed me the following (highlight added):


Just wanted to provide you some feedback on how the Senate vote went. Your input and feedback during the process really helped get this passed by a veto proof majority. Your suggestions on increasing the accountability of the program helped get some of the moderate votes on board. While I have disagreed with you in many regards, you have helped make this a better bill, which has enabled strong support across the political spectrum. Thanks for your involvement!


This could just be dancing in the end zone, but if the suggestion is that legislators actually do care about accountability and have accepted assurances from the sponsors that their concerns are met, that is an issue that needs clarification.