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FERC rule to spark energy transmission building nationwide; Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in AZ election interference case; new digital tool emerges to help MN students with FAFSA woes; WY governor to talk property tax shifts in a TeleTown Hall.

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Israel's Prime Minister calls the new ICC charges unfair. Trump's lawyers found more classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, months after an FBI's search. And a new report finds election deniers are advancing to the fall election.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

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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