From a Rep.

posted May 13, 2012, 1:37 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated May 14, 2012, 4:01 AM ]
From the Legislator

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.


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.