Governor Sununu recently had this to say about a prominent school-choice bill, SB 193:
I think when it comes to using state money for schools, and I think a lot of people know I’m a big believer in school choice, that whatever we do, we have to make sure we’re not harming public schools.
One of the things I like and that I’ve seen and that I’ve encouraged on the table are opening it up just within a program that allows flexibility within public schools, whether it just be for certain grades or maybe for entire districts if the districts were small enough or compact enough.
I think the point is that you don’t want to jump in too big too fast. You have to understand what the repercussions to the public school systems might be and make sure that you’re doing it step wise so that you understand the pros, cons, negative effects, and unintended consequences of any program you put forward in the state.
Stated considerably more succinctly, Sununu (a) believes reducing funding for public schools in order to fund school-choice may “harm public schools,” and (b) he wants to limit, at least initially, school choice to choice among public schools.
Sununu’s funding concern echoes a claim made by hard-left Democrat Representative Marjorie Porter in a recent op-ed:
… funds are limited, and forcing public schools to share them with private schools is simply unfair. Our local superintendent estimates if these bills are signed into law as written, it will cost our local school district more than $600,000 – even before any of our currently enrolled students make use of it. How will this improve things?
Jason Bedrick of edCHOICE has demolished that claim:
According to the New Hampshire Department of Education, district schools spend $17,565 per pupil annually on average … .The ESAs would be funded only with a portion of the state’s per-pupil funding, but about two-thirds of the district school funding comes from local and federal sources. Those local and federal funds would remain entirely with the district schools, and the state would continue to fund districts for the students they enroll.
Schools have both variable costs, which go up or down based on short-term changes in student enrollment, and fixed costs which do not vary with enrollment. … the local and federal funding more than covers the average school’s fixed costs, meaning that decreases in enrollment translate into significant savings for district schools and more resources for students who choose to remain in public schools.
I would add that Porter and other hard-lefties want to have it both ways. They claim that cost of an adequate education can be calculated through a per-pupil mathematical formula. Yet Porter also claims that the cost of an adequate education does not decrease if the number of students attending public schools decreases. In other words, if as Porter claims the cost of an adequate education in a school is the number of students multiplied by the per-pupil cost of an adequate education, then the cost must decrease when enrollment decreases.
Sununu’s position that school choice should be limited to choice among public schools, supports the foremost goal of the #VolinskyAgenda, which is to prevent poor and middle class students from attending private schools:
“strong pub schools” – block school choice, so middle-class and poor parents cannot pick the schools their children attend the way rich parents, like Andru Volinsky, can and do. Forcing middle-class and poor parents into public schools facilitates Democrats inculcating their left-wing values into children, and thereby creates generation after generation of compliant Democrat voters who think, talk and act the way Democrats think they should. Especially cannot allow children to attend religious schools because abortion must never be seen as the taking of an innocent human life.
To be clear, I do not think that Sununu supports Volinsky’s goal of using public schools to inculcate Democrat (as in Democrat Party) values in children.
But to be equally clear, I do think that Sununu’s belief that choice should be limited to choice among public schools is horribly misguided. It appears to be based on the erroneous notion that choice would deprive public schools of necessary funding. And the goal should be to give students from poor and middle-class families access to the same educational opportunities as students from more affluent families.