The News-Observer of North Carolina, one of the state’s leading newspapers, published an excellent editorial decrying the state’s ill-conceived voucher program. The editorial board recognizes that the purpose of the voucher program is nothing more nor less than to cripple the state’s once-highly regarded public schools, which have done so much to build the state’s economy over the past century.
The voucher is worth all of $4,200, and it does not include the cost of items such as transportation or food. What kind of school can provide a good education on that small amount of money? Over the next decade, the costs of vouchers will increase every year, at the expense of the state’s public schools. A large part of the voucher funding will go to subsidize the tuition of students who are already enrolled in private schools. The newspaper predicts that none of the voucher students will enroll in the elite private schools where wealthy Republicans send their own children.
There’s a cynical side to this entire program as well. Yes, the $4,200 can cover a lot of expense at small church schools, for example, but wealthy Republicans aren’t going to see any of the Opportunity Scholarship recipients in the state’s most exclusive private schools, the ones that cater to wealthy families. Tuition in those schools is often $20,000 and above.
Parents with kids in public schools where arts and physical education programs are threatened, where the best teachers are leaving the profession to earn a better living, might point directly to Republicans in the General Assembly as the culprits. This voucher program was little more than a slap at public schools, which Republicans have targeted since taking control of the General Assembly in 2011.
Republicans in North Carolina should be ashamed of themselves for passing vouchers. The schools that accept voucher students are far inferior to the state’s public schools. Their curriculum, their programs, their teachers, their extracurricular activities, their provision for students with special needs–all are inferior to the state’s public schools.
Those who voted for this program and who vote to harm public schools should be voted out of office. Their goal is not to offer opportunity to students who are poor and struggling; their goal is privatization, regardless of the consequences for the children and the state.
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