Sunday, June 10, 2007

Harm done: Why we need an amendment

Harm was done once the first lawsuit from Claremont hit the books. This was the first step where the educational establishment put greed ahead of the very children they are to educate. This is where judges and legislators put pandering to the educational establishment ahead of the children, parents and taxpayers of New Hampshire.

Quote of the Day "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children." – Albert Shanker, former president American Federation of Teachers

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader.

Harm done: Why we need an amendment

Legislators last week took New Hampshire two steps closer to a sales or income tax, and they did so knowing they were leading us in that direction.

On Wednesday the House rejected a constitutional amendment that would have restored the Legislature's authority to target education aid to less wealthy school districts.

Last year the state Supreme Court ruled that the state had to define an "adequate education" and fund 100 percent of its cost. That is, the state can no longer supplement local education funding, as it has always done. It has to pay for everything that constitutes an "adequate education," from 1st-grade math classes to 12th-grade science labs.

On Thursday the Senate passed a definition of "adequate education" that included kindergarten and a long list of additional resources for "enhanced needs" schools.

Those who argue that we do not need a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court's Claremont and Londonderry rulings say that we are safe from court interference. They say the court won't take control of education funding if the Legislature simply passes a definition of "adequate education," which the House and Senate have done.

But the court could stay silent on the issue forever and we still would need an amendment. That is because the court's ruling that the state has to define an adequate education and pay all of its costs became the law of the land the minute that decision was handed down.

Even if the court never touches this issue again, New Hampshire already is obligated to pay for 100 percent of whatever the newly passed definition of adequate education will cost. No one knows how much that will be because both the House and the Senate refused to attach a fiscal note to the bill. They did that because they knew that if the people saw the price tag they would faint from sticker shock and support for the bill would collapse.

If nothing else changes, the state still will have to create a broadbased tax to pay for public education. That is why we need a constitutional amendment -- not to take the court out of the picture forever, but to undo the damage it already has done.

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