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Letter: Democrats are playing politics with charter schools

The Democrats on the New Hampshire House Finance Committee are playing the worst kind of political games because this involves our children’s education.

A wise bill to correct a charter school funding issue was voted to be “retained,” which effectively stops the legislation from getting an up-or-down House vote and throws our children’s education into limbo. The excuse used (“there isn’t any money”) is an utter falsehood. The state funding for charter schools comes from the same basic fund as all education adequacy funding – which means if what they are claiming is true, there wouldn’t be any money for any public school. In this case, the money does follow the child.

But this is Democratic politics, and they see nothing wrong with taking hostages to create a bargaining chip. Children are those hostages and the Democrats’ allegiance to the teachers unions trumps our children’s education. Remember, these federal grants to the states for charter schools are on the condition that the state continues a pathway for future charter schools. Shortsighted Democratic legislators are indicating to the feds that New Hampshire doesn’t need the federal grant money because we don’t plan to invest in charter schools here.

All is not lost. The Republican majority in the Senate can fix this by adding the language in HB 299 in their budget. In the meantime, tell Rep. Dan Eaton (446-3535, eatonsstore@juno.com) to stop the abhorrent practice of politics with children.

GREGORY HILL

Northfield

Legacy Comments5

I love it when republicans don't get their way. All of sudden they play the old "stop playing politics" play card.

It is politics, you don't need glasses to see that.

The bottom line is that Democrats will never support charter schools because they are in bed politically with the union-education complex.

I would suggest that you do a little more research concerning the statue (RSA 198:42) which HB299 references as it clearly does not represent a blank check. I understand however why some would want to use charter schools as leverage against other issues such as the tax credit or gambling. RSA 198:42 allows the state flexibility in times of emergency or unforeseen expenditures. What you have now is a two tier system where district schools receive this protection however public charter school students do not. The blank check argument holds even less weight when one learns that: 1. RSA198:42 II contains the same language for district schools that is included in HB299 for public charter schools. 2. All charter school applications require projected enrollment and a maximum enrollment in their applications. I.e. the state has certainty concerning charter growth. 3. The federal startup grant can only fund up to four new charter schools a year. 4. Charter school students represent less than 1.5% of the total public school population. 5. HB299 represents fixing a technicality which was used as the rationale for putting a moratorium on new charter schools. 6. The video of Representative Eaton’s comments concerning HB299 clearly illustrate what this is really all about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7D_AJ2JpqA Matt Southerton

HB 299 gave charters an open ended claim on the budget. We should support charters, prudently, but there is no reason to make charters the only program with unlimited access to the New Hampshire budget.

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