February 27, 2017 1:49 pm

Public Schools First North Carolina Calls for Voucher Moratorium

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From our friends at Public Schools First NC:

ACTION OF THE WEEK: SIGN OUR VOUCHER MORATORIUM PETITION and  promote it to your friends and neighbors. Great NC public schools deserve our tax dollars, but unaccountable private schools do not!

The New York Times reported this week on several studies that show vouchers don’t help students succeed:

Three consecutive reports, each studying one of the largest new state voucher programs, found that vouchers hurt student learning. … The new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores. But while vouchers and charters are often grouped under the umbrella of ‘school choice,’ the best charters tend to be nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less ‘private’ that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.

North Carolina’s voucher program is about as un-public as school choice can get, and don’t think people haven’t noticed. Last week an employee at the largest recipient of voucher money was arrested for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school. Released on bail, he continues to coach at the school, which has received nearly $1 million tax dollars since the Opportunity Scholarship program began in 2014.

NCGA leaders says the program’s accountability comes from parents because they will withdraw their children from private schools that aren’t good. But how are parents supposed to know about embezzling employees? How are they supposed to provide transparency for taxpayers who are supporting religious schools that are allowed to discriminate against children? Who is really in charge of our voucher program? We better figure it out because it will cost taxpayers as much as $33 million this school year alone.

Given that national leaders are now contemplating mechanisms for expanding voucher programs across the country, perhaps even using Title I funds to do so, it’s more important than ever to examine our program. North Carolina needs schools our students deserve, and we need a moratorium on unaccountable vouchers as we work to make them a reality.