We are honored several New Hampshire families have shared their stories about what educational options mean to them as part of our Family Profile series.
This profile is from a single mom, a widow, who needed alternatives for her bright daughter. She managed to put the pieces together at a private school and today supports the Education Savings Account bill, SB 193, because it would put similar opportunities in place for more children. This is written testimony she submitted to the House Finance Committee and is shared with permission.
I am a widowed, single mom who was left to raise my child alone. It was not part of our plan when we had her. The plan was that I would be a stay-at-home mom while she was little so that I could help her get a great start in life with her education. Unfortunately, a teen driver distracted with the radio changed all that when she hit my husband head-on while he was riding his motorcycle. We were blessed that he lived for 5 years after that, even though he was paralyzed. After 5 years of fighting to live, his body surrendered to his injuries and we had to say goodbye.
I went back to work full-time after picking up the pieces, as this was the only income we had now. My daughter was a very bright girl, but struggled in our local school. They had no means to challenge her, although her teachers did the best they could. The only solution they came up with was to push her ahead to the next grade. Skipping a grade challenged her at first, but soon she adapted and again was bored. I supplemented as best I could at home with more challenging things. I kept hoping things would change, but they didn’t. I thought I couldn’t afford private school and I couldn’t homeschool; I was a single parent with one income working full-time. Alas, high school came and I was told this would help as there would be more options for classes.
Unfortunately, high school brought more class choices and bullies. This was by far the worst year for us. The bullying and tormenting were awful and the school was useless in stopping it. She was an extremely bright girl and her excitement for learning was getting lost. Her personality was changing and she was becoming angry and depressed. I had to do something before it was too late.
We searched for private-school options and found a great fit in Dover at Portsmouth Christian. It was far, but I knew if it meant helping her that I would find a way to get her back and forth. I applied for their generous scholarships and was given scholarships for all but $3000. I couldn’t afford that amount on what I earned, but she begged to go. She needed to go. After going before a judge and pleading, we were able to use the $3000 left to her in a trust (for college) for this school. Had it not been for the $3000 that was left to her and the kindness of the judge, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. The year she spent at Portsmouth Christian is exactly what she needed. Her passion for learning blossomed again; she became excited, she was happy and optimistic again. I got my daughter back! She had a great year — straight As, high honor roll, and she made the varsity basketball team. That year made the difference for my child!
Because of her hard work and efforts, she went on to get a 2-year full scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy where things really blossomed for her. She immersed herself in all they had to offer and thrived like I had never seen her thrive before!
That one year at Portsmouth Christian Academy was our saving grace and it made a huge difference in her life and changed the path forever. We did not seek out a religious school; we are not a particularly religious family. We chose a religious school because it offered a great education and the scholarships they offered were very generous. While searching for schools, I noticed that religious schools offered the most generous scholarships, even for those children who were not religious. After all the scholarships and need-based help is added up, the parents are still responsible for $3000 – $5000, depending on the school.
I am asking that you support SB193 education savings accounts so that other kids, like my daughter, can get what they so desperately need, the best education for them. Single parents and struggling parents need the ability to get their children out of schools that aren’t helping their children and into one that does. Private schools offer scholarships, but they don’t cover it all. $3000 to a single mom or struggling parent is the difference between a child failing and succeeding, not just in school but in life. They need the best start they can get in this world. Please let’s give it to them. Please support SB193 and let kids have the education savings accounts they desperately need.
By Cheryl Dean
Read more about Education Savings Accounts here. If you wish to contact the House Finance Committee about the impact the ESA bill, SB 193, will have on your family, their email is HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. The committee already held a public hearing on SB 193 and could vote on the bill at any time.