In a recent letter to the editor, published in the Nashua Telegraph Donald Jean suggested that New Hampshire's Education Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (STC) program would not help the poor, writing "I don’t envision any poor parent saying, 'All I need is a $2,500 scholarship to send my child to a $6,500-a-year private school.'" Mr. Jean's concern is admirable but misplaced.

In our work on the Education Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program thus far we have heard from so many families willing to make incredible sacrifices for their children. Single parent families, one income / one vehicle families, parents with 3 jobs, families of children with special needs and several with terminal illnesses.

Several studies have demonstrated that STC programs around the country disproportionately serve the needs of low-income families. For example, scholarships in Pennsylvania's STC program average only $1,165 and yet there are more than 38,000 children participating in the program, a majority of whom come from families earning less than $29,000 per year.

The greatest proof that New Hampshire's STC program addresses the needs of low-income families is that the median family income of applicants to the Network for Educational Opportunity, the state's first and so far only scholarship organization, is less than $45,000 per year. By contrast, the median family income in New Hampshire is nearly $65,000 per year.

We should work to provide families with the opportunity to choose an education that is a great fit for their child and give our best effort to help them over come the barriers rather than assume "they can't afford it". They know what is best for their financial circumstance and their children.

Mr. Jean is certainly correct that New Hampshire's Education Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program is only worth supporting if it actually expands educational opportunities for those who don't have them. Based on the evidence that it does, I hope Mr. Jean and the new majority in the state legislature will support the scholarship tax credit program and help us to keep our promise to these families in need.

Kate Baker
Executive Director
Network for Educational Opportunity (NEO)


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