From a Rep.

posted May 14, 2012, 3:02 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated May 14, 2012, 3:02 PM ]
Response to the "snookered" email

I'm conflicted on this.

On the one hand, you have the ideal of an educated citizenry via the public school system, and a workforce with a minimum of literacy for a competitive edge in the world economy.  Worthy goals.

On the other hand, I have my personal experiences.  I fared poorly in the public school system.  Think Lord of the Flies.  Think cliques, bullies, and teachers who backed up the bullies as they enforced a social hierarchy and took pressure off of school authorities. It was only because my parents had some resources that I was sent to private schools and I was able to graduate.  I would have dropped out, such was the harshness of my town's public school system..

Response from DNHPE

Yes, many of us have had good public, private and home school experiences.  Over 2,500 children leave New Hampshire schools each year for private and home schools, although something over 20% of them do return within a couple of years.  And among the kids who leave, almost the same proportion are qualified for free and reduced lunch (about 20 or 22%) as are in the total enrollment (about 25%).  

So kids of all income levels leave public school for private schools now and their parents (and the schools) find a way to make it work.  And, of course, they would all apply for vouchers under the proposed program.  No doubt, some kids who would not have gone to private schools otherwise will go with a voucher.  But many, or most, won't have needed it.  This is a pretty marginal public benefit for the many millions of public dollars New Hampshire would invest in this program.

There can be a role for vouchers as part of an effort to fix failing school systems, but ours are in generally good shape and this program is not targeted to failing schools as programs in other states are.  Reaching poor kids and underperforming schools is the sales pitch, as the Friedman Foundation script says, but the program is really, as Milton Friedman said, about the long term project of privatization of public schools - getting the government out.

Response from an different legislator

Declining student populations, student-per-teacher ratio's growing smaller and smaller, lots and lots more aides and counselors in classrooms and schools than ever before, continuously falling test scores coupled with dumbed down testing to make crummy test scores publicly palatable, just an unbelievable number of functional illiterates "graduating" high schools, almost all of whom are unprepared for the real world, senior teachers so totally frustrated with misdirection on the part of state board and DOE functionaries, their stomachs in knots, in droves literally counting the days and minutes to retirement and, finally, countless prospective employers without competent graduated applicants to hire [so might as well send jobs to more educated and interested workers in China and who knows where else]- and Mr. Duncan defends this careening downhill race.  Public education isbroken, broken, broken.

It's time for lots more competition. It's time to throw out all the pass-the-buck-defend-the-indefensible fraudsters in education hierarchies. 

It's time to reinstate what once worked.

Response from DNHPE

Your email clarifies the choice before the Legislature.  

A legislator who feels as you do that American public education has failed and is beyond repair would support SB372, the education tax credit bill, because it leaves public education behind as a failed venture and builds in its place a private, market-based alternative.

But a legislator who feels that our nation's education system is a precious asset and that we need to respond to today's challenges rather than replace public education with private school vouchers, will vote against SB372 this week.

The rest is details.