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Cline pushing school choice agenda

April 24. 2018 5:40PM

To the Editor: I believe we have an urgent need for an unbiased, nonpartisan report from New Hampshire’s higher education community which provides a localized analysis of research findings on the student achievement effects of state voucher programs, complete with recommendations relevant to ongoing efforts to implement a voucher program in New Hampshire.

Such research from the national perspective is readily available, but there appears to be a void in New Hampshire filled only by school choice advocates such as the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, as exemplified by Andrew Cline’s column in the New Hampshire Sunday News.

The limitation of this article and similar analyses is the overriding priority for persuading the public of a problem that only competition among schools, brought about by voucher-assisted choice, can fix. This agenda tends to shape the author’s presentation of evidence that a problem, in fact, exists, spotlighting, for example, New Hampshire’s recent dip in 4th grade NAEP scores in math and reading, while ignoring their steady rise over the ten or so years prior.

Rather than exploring reasons for the recent, potentially temporary, dip, the author then hastens to cite a plethora of research supporting school choice programs while ignoring the 2017 Economic Policy Institute’s study of 25 years of voucher research showing insignificant student achievement gains and only modest impact on graduation rates while distracting from other solutions with higher potential returns.

Who will step up to this public service challenge to engage in an honest, New Hampshire-based search for truth in this matter?

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