New Hampshire Senate passes bill creating education freedom accounts

New Hampshire Senate passes bill creating education freedom accounts

Education freedom accounts give Granite State parents the power to direct their child’s education funding to services that match their unique needs.

New Hampshire parents are one step closer to gaining greater control over their children’s education after the New Hampshire Senate passed a landmark bill March 18.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 130 on a 14-10 vote, according to WMUR. If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu, it would establish education freedom accounts, or EFAs, for low- and middle-income New Hampshire families.

The state would deposit grant money directly into EFAs controlled by parents, which they can then use on a wide variety of education expenses for their children.

EFAs enjoy support from parents like Shalimar Encarnacion, a Manchester mom. Encarnacion’s son is on the autism spectrum and struggled throughout middle school. With help from the Children’s Scholarship Fund, Encarnacion was able to enroll him at a local private school, which offered the individualized attention he needed.

“I’ve seen firsthand how many of our communities don’t have equal access to educational resources and the same opportunities,” Encarnacion said.

“This is about leveling the playing field and making the best education accessible to everyone.”

Nashua moms Allison Dyer and Alicia Houston echo Encarnacion’s support.

“Returning that decision-making power to families, to parents and guardians, it would lift such a heavy burden off the shoulders of our community’s families,” they said. “Especially those children struggling to learn in their current educational model.”

With an EFA, moms like Encarnacion, Dyer and Houston would have direct control of the dollars tied to their child’s education. Under the program, low- and middle-income families in New Hampshire would receive a minimum of $3,786 per student per year. That grant – which is redirected to parents from the state portion of K-12 per-pupil funding, could total up to nearly $8,300 if the student is eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch, is a special education student who has an individualized education plan, or has other special needs.

That money can then be used to pay for a wide variety of education expenses both inside and outside the classroom, including tutoring, additional online education programs, tuition at a school of their choice, computer hardware and more.

“I can tell you as a parent, round pegs don’t fit in square holes and sometimes, while public schools do a great job for the vast majority of students in New Hampshire, they don’t work for every kid,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.

“That happened in my family. Some kids, some families need options.”

No matter their background, every child in New Hampshire deserves access to a great education. And New Hampshire parents deserve the power to give their child the education that best suits their individual needs.

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