New Hampshire's school choice program enrolled 1,635 students last year and has more than doubled this year, totaling at least 3,025.
The department of education recently announced the success of New Hampshire’s school choice program. Enrollment has nearly doubled since it began last year. In addition, a massive 96% of families who started with the program in 2021 have returned for the 2022-2023 school year.
Deemed the New Hampshire Education Freedom Account, this school choice program has expanded faster than expected. It was designed to help students in poverty excel. Those who qualify must come from a family sitting at 300% of the poverty level or below. This equates to households making $83,250 or less for a family of four.
In its first year, 1,635 students took advantage of this school choice program. This expanded to 3,025 students this year with 1,572 students returning after meeting success last year. Most of the children involved are younger students enrolled in 1st through 6th grade.
Of the current class enrolled in the school choice initiative, nearly half qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. These are children whose parents make below 185% of the federal poverty level. That places their annual household income at $51,338 or less for a family of four.
The school choice program costs almost $14.6 million and just over half of the students who enrolled were already engaged in alternative education options. Just how many of them left the public school system in 2020 is uncertain, but opponents of this measure claim that it harms the public school system by diverting funding to other educational opportunities.
Proponents point out that the education system is funded completely by taxpayers, and if the taxpayers do not believe that public schools are properly serving communities, they have the right to change the system and make it more applicable to modern solutions. School choice is highly favored by most Americans. A Real Clear Opinion Poll revealed that this goes beyond racial and political divides.
High participation rates and overwhelming support for New Hampshire’s school choice program supports the poll’s findings. It expands families’ options to provide their children with the education that best suits them. Traditionally, the public school system has confined low-income families to area schools that do not receive as much funding as other districts.
School choice allows minority and low-income students the opportunity to shop around for the best education possible. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration and public school activists oppose this solution despite claiming to support equity programs, which have been driven into the public schools by the federal Department of Education. Despite this, New Hampshire is serving as a model for alternative education advocates.
How the new school choice program affects student success rates, youth mental health, and poverty rates will likely determine whether further support increases. These are serious areas of concern that public schools have struggled to improve upon since before the pandemic, and parents are seeking to remedy. As of now, the number of families that have made the switch has nearly doubled and this indicates that future expansion is not only likely but to be expected.