WHILE WE HAVE long known that one size does not fit all when it comes to educating children, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need for greater flexibility in education into sharp focus.
Thankfully, Granite State families have more educational choices than those in many other states. As well as traditional district schools, we have charter schools, magnet schools, online learning options, an education tax credit scholarship program, and the Learn Everywhere program, which offers academic credit for programs in non-traditional settings. Last June, when New Hampshire passed the new Education Freedom Accounts (EFA) program, it brought parental choice in education to the next level, truly recognizing parents as the first educators of their children and trusting them to do what’s best.
Under the new program, families can apply through Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF), which was selected by the New Hampshire Department of Education to administer this program this year. Eligible families use funds deposited in an EFA account to pay for private school tuition, online learning programs, tutoring, and many other educational expenses. The EFA represents the base state education funding allocated to that child, with more for children meeting other criteria including those with special needs.
There are common sense limits to how parents can spend EFAs (for example, EFAs cannot be used to reimburse parents for their time or pay for gym memberships or sports uniforms), and each expenditure must be reviewed and approved by CSF, which in turn is accountable to the Department of Education. Ultimately, though, the parent is empowered to decide how and where their child is educated, and which schools or services best meet their child’s needs.
Continue reading the rest of the op-ed on the New Hampshire Union Leader’s website.