published : 2023-11-19

New Hampshire Teachers Union Lawsuit Against Voucher Program Dismissed by Judge

American Federation of Teachers expresses disappointment in the court's ruling

A group of New Hampshire teachers union members protesting outside the courthouse, holding signs that say 'Protect Public Education' (Photo taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

The New Hampshire Superior Court has rejected a challenge by a teachers union to the state's voucher program. The American Federation of Teachers had argued that the use of public money to fund private schools was unconstitutional.

Judge Amy L. Ignatius of Merrimack County Superior Court ruled that the union failed to prove that the measure violated the Constitution. Ignatius stated that the burden of proof lay on the union, and they were unable to demonstrate its unconstitutionality.

The American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire President, Deb Howes, expressed disappointment but not surprise at the court's decision. She explained that state law mandates the use of lottery funds solely for public schools and the Education Trust Fund, not for vouchers.

Students from economically disadvantaged homes participating in an Education Freedom Account (EFA) program, attending a private school of their choice (Photo taken with Nikon D850)

The Education Trust Fund, which distributes education grants to school districts, was amended this year to include vouchers. The use of vouchers is facilitated through Education Freedom Accounts (EFA).

Howes criticized the focus on the voucher program, arguing that it detracts from the needs of the 160,000 public school students in New Hampshire. She stated that local property taxpayers bear a disproportionate burden in funding quality public education.

According to data from the New Hampshire Department of Education, over 4,200 students from economically disadvantaged homes were enrolled in EFAs. Furthermore, EFA enrollment increased by approximately 20 percent from the previous academic year.

Parents and children at a community meeting discussing the benefits of school choice and the importance of parental rights (Photo taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

Opponents of school choice, such as teachers unions, argue that it diverts taxpayer funding from public schools, impacting resources and teacher salaries.

The American Federation for Children Senior Fellow, Corey DeAngelis, celebrated the court's decision and asserted that parents have the right to choose their children's education. He criticized the teachers unions for attempting to trap kids in failing government schools.