Providing Educational Opportunity Is the New Hampshire Way

Providing Educational Opportunity Is the New Hampshire Way

Dec 19, 2017

Providing Educational Opportunity Is the New Hampshire Way

Education savings accounts are the next stage in New Hampshire’s tradition of providing public funding for educational opportunities.

Concord, N.H.—The Granite Institute today released two new reports to help policymakers, community leaders and education advocates understand K-12 education savings accounts or ESAs.

The first report explores New Hampshire’s history of providing public funding for children to learn at private schools, and the second report explains how ESAs work in other states. Click here to download the reports.

Granite State lawmakers currently are debating SB 193, which would create K-12 education savings accounts that would empower families to choose the learning environment best suited for their child. These reports provide necessary context for that debate.

Public Funds for Private Schooling in New Hampshire: Myths and Facts

New Hampshire has a long history of providing public financial support to families enrolling their children in private schools, including for-profit and religious schools, a report released today by the Granite Institute shows. In fact, towns have been contracting with private schools to educate the children of residents at least as far back as 1792.

“Prominent policymakers are often unaware that it is a regular and longstanding practice of many Granite State towns to use public dollars to support children enrolled in private school,” Granite Institute CEO J. Scott Moody said. The author of the article, Granite Institute Education Fellow Dr. Jody Underwood adds, “Some of these policymakers make statements that are just not true. We can only have a productive conversation about how tax dollars should be spent once we know what really happens, and how, and why.”

The report, “Public Funds for Private Schooling in New Hampshire: Myths and Facts” provides

examples and supporting legislation about how the three northern New England states and their local governments have historically used tax dollars to pay for schooling and related services from private institutions – including religious schools, for-profit organizations, and even schools in other states.

Meaningful and productive discussions about education funding must take into account existing realities. Although some state officials have recently claimed that public funds cannot support children enrolled in private schools, the reality is that New Hampshire tax dollars long supported students attending private schools, including religious schools and for-profit institutions.

Education Savings Accounts: A Primer

In conjunction with EdChoice, a national nonprofit working to advance educational opportunity for all children, the Granite Institute has released a primer on education savings accounts (ESAs), including how they work and how other states have implemented them.

ESAs allow families to receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. That means families are no longer limited to a choice among schools; they can fully customize their children’s education.

With an ESA, families receive restricted-use “debit cards” loaded with a portion of their children’s share of per-pupil funds, or access the funds via an online portal. They can then direct those funds to pay for pre- approved educational services and providers, including private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, curricula, online learning, educational therapy, individual public school classes, Advanced Placement courses, and transportation to and from an education service provider. Families can roll over unused funds from year to year and even deposit funds into a college savings account.

Six states currently have ESAs, including Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Nevada. New Hampshire’s SB 193 most closely resembles the ESAs in Arizona and Nevada, where lawmakers enacted ESA programs that are open to all students switching out of a public school or, in the case of Arizona, students who are entering kindergarten or first grade. The remaining four the ESA programs exclusively serve students with special needs. Although they differ in terms of eligibility, funding, and administration, all the programs empower families with greater freedom and flexibility to customize their child’s education to meet his or her individual learning needs.

Formed in 2011, the Granite Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization based in Concord.

For more information, visit To schedule an interview, contact Jody Underwood at 215-801-2823 or

Category: School Choice

About The Author

J. Scott Moody

J. Scott Moody has worked as a Public Policy Economist for over 18 years. He is the author, co-author and editor of 180 studies and books.

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