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Another View - Kate Baker: Only the best for NH's next generation

January 21. 2018 8:47PM

What parent doesn’t want the best for their children? It may be a cliché, but it’s true—every parent wants nothing more than to see their children achieve their hopes and dreams. National School Choice Week, with its signature yellow fleece scarves, provides us a cheery reminder of how school choice empowers each parent to provide the best education for their sons and daughters.

What’s best for one child won’t necessarily work for another child, so it is crucial that families have many types of schools from which to choose, including public, charter, magnet, private, and even home schools.

I have the privilege of working for Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) New Hampshire, which this year awarded scholarships to 260 children from low- and middle-income families statewide, funded in large part by businesses donating under the state’s Education Tax Credit program. CSF families can use scholarships to send their children to private schools, out-of-district public schools, and homeschools. Recently, we surveyed scholarship families and found:

Ninety percent of the CSF families surveyed agree or strongly agree their child has seen a measurable improvement in academic achievement since participating in the scholarship program;

Ninety-two percent agree or strongly agree they are satisfied with their child’s current school compared with the school they attended before using a scholarship, and

Eighty-two percent of families agree or strongly agree their child would have been unable to attend the school of their choice without a scholarship.

Numbers can be impressive, but nothing beats hearing directly from families who have worked hard to make sure their children are getting a good education.

Amanda C. put it this way: “All children learn differently and have different struggles. Trying to fit them in a one-size-fits-all learning approach is not beneficial to them at all. Having school choice gives children the opportunity to flourish and grow to their fullest potential.”

When asked why it is important for parents to be able to choose the school that’s the best fit for their children, Melanie C. responded, “To avoid the heartbreak of seeing them not liking school and therefore not giving the best effort possible.”

Courtney B. shared, “Each child being able to learn and grow in an environment that is comfortable for them will produce productive members of society.”

Courtney’s comment about the positive outcomes for children who get a good education today was echoed by Gov. Chris Sununu recently. “I’m the first governor in 25 years to come up through the public schools of New Hampshire. Obviously they worked pretty well for me, but what I do know is they don’t work for everyone...Where we start these kids and the opportunities and the pathways that we have them go through is not just about their education. It’s about where they can end up in life, and the opportunities and the doors that we are going to open up for them through that process,” he said.

We agree. New Hampshire parents deserve the freedom to provide their children with the opportunity to attend a school that best meets their needs.

We look forward to celebrating National School Choice Week (Jan. 21-27) with the governor at a rally in Manchester on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The event will bring together hundreds of students, teachers, and parents from schools of all types, to celebrate the freedom and educational opportunities they and so many others across the Granite State enjoy.

If past experience is a guide, the joy on the students’ faces — the joy that comes from learning and achievement — should provide added motivation for all of us to expand school choice to every parent and every child, so all children in New Hampshire have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Kate Baker is executive director of Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) in New Hampshire.

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