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Ashley Pratte: Why oppose educational opportunities for low-income kids?

June 19. 2013 8:44PM

Since its implementation on Jan. 1, New Hampshire’s education tax credit has been popular among parents as well as members of the business community who have given generously to the fund. This program has been run solely upon donations from businesses, which are then distributed by the scholarship organizations to families who apply for assistance.

The education tax credit was a godsend for low-income parents. It allows them to send their children to more academically rigorous schools, increasing their likelihood of breaking the chain of poverty and realizing their full potential as citizens.

Now the education tax credit has been ruled unconstitutional by New Hampshire Superior Court Judge John Lewis. Unconstitutional? The money secured from the scholarship program never goes to the state. In fact, those who established the program carefully designed it so the funds are moved into a charitable organization and are completely protected from greedy hands in Concord.

Why are so many on the left arguing that the education tax credit is unconstitutional? Because the education tax credit allows for young people to be educated in private schools as opposed to government-run schools. Gov. Maggie Hassan, in fact, boldly called the ruling “a victory for New Hampshire public education.”

Yet there is no threat to public education. Private schools offer a healthy competition to public schools. Many are demonstrating what education can — and should — accomplish. Allowing parents to send their children to schools with superior test scores and greater academic rigor does not threaten public education; it should encourage public education to improve.

But worst of all, they are violating the rights of the most vulnerable in our society by forcing them into a one-size-fits-all educational model that takes choices away from parents. They cannot legally infringe upon the rights of those parents who can afford to send their children to private schools, but they can make it difficult for low-income families. And that is precisely what they chose to do.

While I appreciate the value of public education for all, we must never forget that it is the parents who are responsible for the education of their children. It is a manipulation and a rejection of this fundamental right that is animating the actions of the left.

Denying 400 students from low-income families the right to attend an academically rigorous school with a more wholesome culture is a selfish act that must be called out for what it is.

Ashley Pratte is executive director of Cornerstone Action.

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