NH House Rejects Voucher Plan In Favor Of Charters

The New Hampshire House of Repre­sen­tatives has rejected a bill that would have established a voucher system funded by backdoor channels.

The legislation called for the state to create a non-profit foundation that would award vouchers, euphemistically called scholarships, to students whose family income is less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The vouchers would have been funded in part by credits to businesses in the state.

The New Hampshire Senate approved the scheme, but the House voted it down in May. Legislators opted instead to expand charter schools in the state by funding them directly with state money, bypassing local school districts.

According to a report by the Asso­ciated Press, a band of Republican lawmakers joined forces with Democrats to sink the bill as part of a compromise to save the charter-schools measure.

Americans United and its allies in the public education community worked to oppose the voucher scheme.

The vote marks the second recent defeat for voucher advocates in New Hampshire. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire House voted down a bill that would have given vouchers worth $2,800 to parents with incomes below $60,000 per year. The plan would have started with 2,000 students and expanded to 16,000 after eight years.

In other news about vouchers:

• Ohio officials have discovered a new type of fraud in the state’s voucher plan: parents deliberately enrolling their children in poorly performing schools in the hope that they will qualify for a voucher to go to private school.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the state Department of Education is seeking legal advice after hearing of several instances of this type of enrollment. Officials in the department sent a letter to several public schools asking them to flag suspicious enrollments.

“We do not believe these actions mirror the legislative intent of the Ed Choice program,” said J.C. Benton, a spokesman for the Education Department.