Michael Turmelle: Public education is in peril in NH
Michael Turmelle is director of education and career initiatives for New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. In an op-ed for the Laconia Daily Sun, he warns of the dangers inherent in the recent attacks on public education in New Hampshire.
All children in every public school in New Hampshire (not just the ones in wealthy towns) should have the resources, facilities and teachers needed to ensure them a world-class education and the best outcomes possible. Our current unequal system of supporting schools creates two separate and unequal classes of education for our kids, robbing too many of them of the American promise of equal opportunity.
By a troubling move toward privatization.
Running through some recent proposed legislation and public discourse is a disquieting attack on the idea of public education as a public good.
The school voucher program being considered by the legislature is a system under which taxpayer-generated state aid earmarked to educate children in public schools is redirected to private schools or home education.
Voucher programs would risk further exacerbating funding inequity in New Hampshire schools and leaving the most vulnerable children — the ones who rely most on the promise of public education — in schools with fewer resources, increasingly inadequate facilities and diminished opportunity. An analysis by the non-profit, nonpartisan Reaching Higher New Hampshire shows that the program would cost the state nearly $70 million in new state spending over three years.
Vouchers do not help kids do better. Multiple independent studies from states that have implemented vouchers have shown that voucher programs do not improve academic outcomes. Voucher programs also deepen racial segregation in schools (which has also shown to diminish outcomes for all children) and leave LGBTQ students vulnerable to discrimination.
Taking public funds from our public schools to pay for private education is not a good answer for how to make our schools stronger for the nine out of 10 of New Hampshire’s children who use them.