Effort to Divert Public Education Funds Causes Concern

By Mary Anne Broshek

I am Pro Public Education. Public education is one of the pillars of our democracy. It’s where children get to know others who are not the same as they are and who do not believe in the same things. It’s where they learn that it is okay to have different beliefs and okay to talk about those beliefs and differences and still be friends. It’s a place where, no matter your lifestyle, individual characteristics or income level, there is a place for you.

Governor Sununu has nominated and renominated, and Joe Kinney has approved, appointees like Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut and State Board of Education chair Drew Cline. These men are outspoken advocates for vouchers and charter schools.

The bills presented in the legislature this year by the Republican party, and the actions of the Department of Education, seek to defund and weaken public education. A prime example is HB 1393, sponsored by Louise Andrus, which sought to establish a system of capped budgets for public schools.  

Instead of looking at actual costs, this system would require a specific dollar amount times the average daily membership of the previous year and can only be increased due to inflation. This is the methodology Free Staters in the town of Croyden used to cut their school budget in half (later overturned by outraged town residents).

It is time to remember what the New Hampshire constitution says in Article 83 :
“Knowledge and learning, generally diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; and spreading the opportunities and advantages of education through the various parts of the country, being highly conducive to promote this end; it shall be the duty of the legislators and magistrates, in all future periods of this government, to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries and public schools, to encourage private and public institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and economy, honesty and punctuality, sincerity, sobriety, and all social affections, and generous sentiments, among the people: Provided, nevertheless, that no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.“