DNHPE Update: Two Erroneous Education Tax Credit Studies, 3/5/12

posted Mar 5, 2012, 6:00 AM by Bill Duncan
Honorable New Hampshire Legislators,

DNHPE has concerns about two studies circulating in support of the proposed education tax credit plan to fund school vouchers in New Hampshire (SB 372 and HB 1607).

The Fiscal Impact of Shrinking Public School Enrollment
One is an article, called "The Fiscal Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts" from the Friedman Foundation.  The study asserts that school systems save a lot when students leave - that if a school district lost 10-20% of its students, for instance, it could reduce expenses proportionately.   

This is not actually a study but (here is our comment on it) but would not apply to New Hampshire in any case.  While the proposed education tax credit plan could triple the loss of enrollment faced by New Hampshire public schools (a real problem, discussed here in yesterday's Union Leader), the initial size of  the New Hampshire program it too small to achieve those savings. 

In fact, the plan's impact on school systems has alarmed school boards because the schools would be losing state aid but not achieving the savings asserted by the Friedman study.

Misleading Poll
Lobbying for the education tax credit plan has reached a whole new level with the circulation of an "informal" poll commissioned by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire and meant to suggest that the plan is popular among New Hampshire voters.  It was a two question automated survey of Republican and Independent voters and reported, on a town-by-town basis, strong support the for plan.  

Unlike a real poll, the report does not reveal how many people were called or specify the margin of error.  It does, however, caution: "the number of samples on a town level is low and therefore more subject to uncertainty."  Listen to the poll and read the report here.

It would be a mistake to take seriously a poll like this with a small sample size and slanted question.  The reality is shown by the recent Granite State Poll: the plan would be unpopular throughout New Hampshire.  Voters of all political stripes rejected the use of state money to send children to private schools by a factor of two to one.  The poll also shows that parents are satisfied with schools as they are.

The DNHPE analysis of the plan is here.

Sincerely,

Bill Duncan
Defend New Hampshire Public Education at http://www.dnhpe.org

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