private school vouchers

Esquire Magazine takes NC to task over private school vouchers

And it's fitting there's a Banana Republic banner ad running across the top of the story:

The legislature in the newly insane state of North Carolina had the brilliant idea of shoveling public money into private schools. Perhaps in an attempt to keep James Madison from spinning at 300 rpm, a state superior court judge named Thomas Hobgood went upside the legislature's melon in a big way.

You will be shocked, I know, that the fine hand of ALEC was behind this turkey, and that Thom Tillis, the current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who has moved into a small lead over Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, thinks the program was just a swell idea. And you will also be shocked, I know, to learn that the judge concluded that education "reform" legislation was essentially based on a scam. The grift goes on. I'm sure, somehow, this is the fault of the teachers' unions.

Okay, it's "Robert" Hobgood, and North Carolina doesn't have a teacher's union, it's an association. But other than those things, I second your "insane turkey" observations.

NC GOP's misplaced priorities: more money for vouchers, a lot less for pre-k

The anatomy of a hypocrite:

Berger, who also addressed rally participants, said later he believes the "right thing for us to do would be to find the money."

"I look forward to us having the opportunity and the capacity this year for every child who is signed up for the lottery this year having the opportunity to go to the school of their choice," he said at the event. "And so we will work on that."

Tillis is also open to the idea of providing the scholarships to everyone. "This is about giving parents an opportunity to put their child in a setting that helps ensure that they realize their hopes and dreams," Tillis said.

"Find" the money? Oh, you've got the money, which you ripped away from the well-established and highly successful Smart Start Pre-K program:

NC Supreme Court overturns injunction on private school vouchers

And the draining of public school resources continues:

The North Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s order to halt the state’s voucher program. That means the program can go on – at least for now. It’s a program that gives low-income families scholarships of up to $4,200 to help send their children to private schools.

“We are disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision,” said Edwin Dunlap, Jr., the Executive Director of the NCSBA, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “The prudent thing would have been to answer these important constitutional questions before the state started spending public money on private schools.”

Yes, it would. It's also frustrating that nearly every time a high-profile decision is rendered by the NC Supreme Court these days, there's no mention in the media what the Court's vote was. That 4-3 or 5-2 or whatever used to be exposed in the first paragraph or so, but it doesn't seem to be an important factor anymore, at least in the eyes of news editors. Here's a clue: it is important, because the vote count itself tells a story. How strong and well-prepared the cases are, whether the majority is pushing the envelope on constitutionality, etc. It matters.

Will we send another voucher proponent to DC?

12th Congressional District Dems duke it out over private schools:

The N.C. Association of Educators, the state’s largest teachers group, has said the voucher issue was key in its endorsement of longtime state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro. NCAE vice president Mark Jewell says Adams has a 22-year record as a strong advocate of public education who opposes diverting public funds for private schools.

Brandon defends his support of voucher legislation. “To me it’s a justice issue,” he says. “If people in a certain community, because of their income and zip code, can have a quality education, then the people in my community deserve the same access and same opportunity.”

I'm afraid the only "justice" many of those children would see after they moved to their new school would be of a biblical nature, like being turned into a pillar of salt if you looked back at the destruction of your sin city, or how many jackasses you would owe your neighbor if you happened to kill one of his slaves. Needless to say, Marcus (and Malcolm) are wrong on this issue, and bad judgment is rarely limited to one thing.

A closer look at NC's private schools

Less of an "opportunity" than we were led to believe:

A new report on private schools in North Carolina finds that most of the schools available to voucher recipients are very small, unaccredited religious schools with uncertified teachers, nonstandard curricula and no public accountability. The report, “Characteristics of North Carolina Private Schools,” provides insights into the schools that may be accepting the vouchers.

The report was issued by the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke Law School, based on data from the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education and an extensive phone survey of those schools.

It's extremely ironic that Republicans harp so much about public schools being "broken" and how they're tired of "throwing good money after bad", and then they turn around and throw money into a collection of schools that have such dubious qualities and shadowy characteristics there's no way to even assess them properly. Here are some numbers to ponder:

Lawsuit challenging NC's voucher program continues today

Here's some background to bring you up to speed:

The roots of private school vouchers and re-segregation

Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat its mistakes:

The NC NAACP filed an Amicus Brief Wednesday in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s new private-school voucher program. The brief gives a history of the role private-school vouchers have played in maintaining racially segregated schools in North Carolina.

This Report and the Pearsall Plan were adopted by the General Assembly in 1956. Governor Luther Hudges told the legislators at the opening of the session that “the people of North Carolina expect their General Assembly and their Governor to do everything legally possible to prevent their children from being forced to attend mixed schools against their wishes.” Governor’s Address to the General Assembly, July 23, 1956, 10 Senate Journal.

Regardless of the Republicans' stated motives in creating a dual school system, the end result is a separation of students and their learning potentials and the dilution of resources we as taxpayers set aside for the education of NC's children. And once these institutions are in place, the unfairness lingers:

Private school voucher proponents engage in direct mail recruiting

Next they'll be trolling the playgrounds with an ice cream truck:

Cards with pictures of smiling blond children point parents to a website to see if they qualify for “Opportunity Scholarships,” which provide taxpayer dollars for private school tuition. The personalized mailers address the recipient by first name, adding, “our state now provides money for private school. Now YOU have a choice!”

The mailers are paid for by Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a school choice group. Darrell Allison, president, declined to disclose how many cards went out or how much the group paid for the marketing campaign. He said the goal is to give parents accurate information about “quality” school choice.

I'm more interested in where the money came from to finance said marketing campaign. Time to get out the shovel and do some digging...

Echoes of ALEC in Berger's speech

The dismantling of public schools continues:

We began the long process of retooling our public education system, to make it more focused on delivering positive results for our children...We will never back down from the effort to reform our public schools. No child should be forced to attend a failing school.

We've discussed ALEC's "Parent Trigger" before, but the group actually has several different cookie-cutter bills designed to shift resources from public schools to private. The tone and choice of Berger's words led me to this one, a roadmap for declaring schools educationally bankrupt:

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