The only public hearing there will probably be on HB 1607, the "Education Tax Credit" (school voucher) bill is this Thursday, January 12 at 2:00PM at LOB 202 before the House Ways and Means Committee. It is very odd that it has not gone to the policy committee, Education, first. This means that, if there is to be any discussion of the merits of the bill itself, it will have to be in this hearing, though the chair could decide to discuss only fiscal matters. Be there if you can. Testify if you can. I intend to testify. Let me know if you want any assistance.
I wrote about it in today's Portsmouth Herald, here, making the case that there is no public purpose for this legislation that could cost over $100 million in its first five years. The only strategy for making it "revenue neutral" to the state requires taking local property tax funds to repay the state for tax credits given to business to fund scholarships to families who don't need them.
The New Hampshire Legislature is getting extensive national coverage for many different legislative initiatives but especially the override of the Governor's veto of HB 542 allowing parents to require custom changes to course material and HB 1148 requiring the teaching of evolution. The theme is captured by this one, Live Free, Die Dumb: the War on Education in New Hampshire in Salon. However, if these bills and all the other anti-public education legislation advocated for by the Free State/Tea Party legislators is written off as dumb, we will miss the larger undeniable point: the goal is to destroy our public education system - "government" schools - and replace it with religious and home schools.
My last newsletter went last week out before the House passed HB 219 allocating all education curriculum and rule making authority to the Legislature. This represents the general Free State/Tea Party strategy of allocation all authority to the Legislature (on all matters, not just education). Many constitutional amendments listed on the web site do the same thing. Here is CACR 7 giving the legislature authority over education funding, but you'll see several more in the list of bills on the left.
Many good Republican legislators go along with these bills, possibly because they don't have time to looks critically at them and it seems fine better to follow leadership's guidance. They also can't actually believe that the goal of the legislation is to disruption. When one legislator pointed out to a colleague that CACR 8 makes funding of public education optional, he said "But they wouldn't do that."
It's important to make clear to fellow legislators and the public that these bills are not actually dumb legislation, but have a specific and dangerous goal - dismantling public education and putting the public money into religious and home schools instead. Here is a page on the web site that highlights and responds to the main points made by advocates in support of the Education Tax Credit program. We will all have our own points of view to express in letters to the editor and discussions with colleagues, but this material is meant to focus the issue and shorten the research.
Several people have asked if it's OK to forward this update. Absolutely. Forward to anyone. There could even be supporters of the Education Tax Credit and other individual pieces of education legislation who do not share my analysis of what is going on. They may just think that this or that sounds intuitively like a good idea. If they want to discuss it, that would be great.
Here is the previous update, in case you missed it.