Dem N.H. lawmaker rants about private, religious schools - GOP responds

New Hampshire Democrat State Representative Tamara Myer Le posted a profanity-laced rant on her Facebook page against private and religious schools. That might not be particularly newsworthy for most politicians but in this case, the elected official is a member of the House Education Committee.

Myer Le is a strong advocate for students with disabilities. It looks as though her daughter is one such student. Currently, in eighth grade, her child’s friends were all beginning to apply to attend private high schools. Myer Le lashed out about private and religious schools that do not have anti-discrimination policies against disabled students. Some fellow Democrat members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives “liked” her Facebook post.

“And then it happened. The Sunday afternoon my 8th grade daughter who is getting A-/B+s in 8th grade had to learn – while her friends were applying to private high schools – we would not be,” Le wrote. “Private and religious schools do not have anti-discrimination policies that protect students with disabilities.”

“F*** private and religious schools,” Le concluded. Several of her fellow House Democrats ‘liked’ her comment, including Reps. Casey Conley and Heidi Hamer.

Hours after her rant was reported in the New Hampshire Journal, Myer Le deleted the Facebook post and replaced it with one free of profanity.

“92% of private and religious K-12 schools in NH have admission policies that DO NOT have anti-discrimination protections for students with disabilities,” Le posted on both Facebook and Twitter after removing her original message. “Institutional discrimination is often so embedded you don’t see it.”

While the new post is more civil and more in line with what one might expect from an elected official, her opinion still calls into question her bias against private and religious schools. She has not responded to questions submitted by the press. She continues to justify her original post. It is reported that Myer Le has made her opinion on private and religious schools clear so the question is, why is she sitting on the House Education Committee? Her opposition to school choice is well-known.

It isn’t unusual for Democrats to object to school choice. Many are beholden to teacher unions as campaign donors. Public school teachers object to school choice because they say it takes funds from public schools. Parents, however, come out strongly in favor of school choice. One poll taken in January 2019 shows an increase of support for school choice of 4% since 2018. It is now at 67% approval. The poll was conducted by The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, and Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm. 1,200 likely November 2020 voters were surveyed.

Conservatives have long pushed for school choice. The freedom to send a child to whichever school best suits his or her needs is essential for the child’s success. Myer Le is exercising her freedom of choice, whether she realizes it or not, to send her child to a school that meets her requirements. Her main concern seems to be that her child may be feeling left out as her friends apply to schools to which Myer Le and her husband do not support. Myer Le said she and her husband were unwilling to “give money to any high school that discriminated against people who experience disabilities” in that now-deleted Facebook post.

Having sent a child to both public and private schools, I find it hard to believe that Myer Le cannot find a private or religious school that fits her daughter’s needs, if that is her desire. No school deliberately discriminates against any child – as a matter of fact, private schools go out of their way to show how inclusive they are in admissions. Federal or state funding, for example, would not be available for grants and programs if discrimination was prevalent. Guidelines must be met for schools to qualify.

There are 329 private schools in New Hampshire with about 29,000 students enrolled. The House GOP leader said Myer Le’s rant was critical of all private and religious schools. The Democrat House Education Committee chairman Myer Le speaks for herself and not the committee.

“Sounds like it to me,” House GOP leader Dick Hinch told NHJournal. After seeing Rep. Le’s Facebook post Hinch released a statement calling for her to “apologize to every private and religious school throughout the state,” and demanding that she be removed from the Education Committee.

“Given this exhibition of online rage, I do not believe that Rep. Le can provide any fair or objective review of policies pertaining to private and religious schools as a member of the Education Committee,” Hinch said. “House Speaker Shurtleff must remove her from the House Education Committee, and he should, in the strongest terms, condemn this type of behavior from her.”

House Education Committee chairman Rep. Mel Myler (D-Contoocook) distanced his committee from Le’s controversial comments. “Rep. Le speaks for herself and not that of the House Education Committee. Positions of the committee are taken after full debate on an issue.”

State government officials and lawmakers may not have the national recognition of a representative serving on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. but the state government is powerful in the lives of a state’s residents. The state government is the body that passes laws that directly affect communities and neighborhoods. A state representative with a personal grudge against school choice, as well as private and religious schools, doesn’t have the impartial objectivity needed to make sound public policy decisions. At the very least Myer Le should apologize for her use of profanity and set a better example for students. She should apologize to the schools and parents of students who she trashed by implying their lack of consideration of disabled students. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all school.