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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Despite lack of data, NH lawmakers push expanded private-school vouchers

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

New Hampshire's program to subsidize private education with public tax dollars is rapidly expanding, but opponents believe a lack of data on student outcomes should put the brakes on funding.

Education Freedom Accounts will cost the state an estimated $24 million this school year to subsidize the private education of more than 4,000 students, most of whom have never attended public school.

Mary Wilke, who volunteers as a public-education advocate, said no one knows just how the money is spent.

"We don't have any data about student outcomes in the program," Wilke pointed out. "We don't have any idea if it's helping."

Wilke argued the state cannot accurately audit the program without data, but supporters want to end caps on who can use the funds, to give more parents more choices in their children's education.

Education Freedom accounts, or private school voucher programs, are popular in Republican-led states like New Hampshire. Opponents countered they're part of a broader effort to dismantle public schools, roll back protections for LGBTQ+ students and set limits on teaching American history.

Sarah Robinson, education justice campaign director for Granite State Progress, said the majority of parents support their public schools, and may not be aware of how much voucher programs are costing them. She is organizing what she calls "education justice house parties" to help.

"We can fight back against expansions of vouchers and a lot of other attacks on our public schools," Robinson asserted. "It really does take our communities banding together and talking about the things that we do want."

Robinson added lawmakers are considering a local voucher program, which would take property tax dollars from a district's budget rather than use state aid. She claimed it would raise property taxes, in a state which already uses them for more than 70% of education funding.

Disclosure: Granite State Progress Education Fund and Granite State Progress contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Gun Violence Prevention, Health Issues, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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