When Duke University’s Children’s Law Center’s released its March 2017 report called SCHOOL VOUCHERS IN NORTH CAROLINA : THE FIRST THREE YEARS one of the most glaring aspects of the program was how many vouchers were being used at religiously affiliated schools.
Some of the observations of the study included:
- Approximately 93% of the vouchers have been used to pay tuition at religious schools (p.3).
- The North Carolina voucher program is well designed to promote parental choice, especially for parents who prefer religious education for their children (p.3).
- Of the participating schools, less than 20% were secular schools; more than 80% were religious schools. This does not line up exactly with the percentages of vouchers used at religious schools versus secular schools (93% at religious schools), because several religious schools enrolled large numbers of students (p.8).
The entire report can be found here: https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/School_Vouchers_NC.pdf.
Many public school advocates, especially the teacher who writes this blog, have argued that the Opportunity Grants are a detriment to public schools in that it takes public money meant for public schools and gives it to private, unregulated entities which can practice admission standards that would never be allowed in public schools and can offer curricula that is not aligned with preparing students for 21st success.
It also strikes this teacher that 93% of vouchers used in NC when the Duke study was published goes to entities that are affiliated with churches and are possibly housed within churches that do not have to give tax dollars due to religious exemptions.
Today NC Policy Watch highlighted in their MONDAY NUMBERS segment a section of Public School Forum of North Carolina’s recent annual report on the Opportunity Grants. Specifically, they listed the ten private schools that receive the most money from vouchers.
From page 8 of the Public School Forum of NC’s report Top Ten Education Issues of 2018:
And all of them are religious schools.
The first school listed above is Trinity Christian in Fayetteville. It recently had its basketball coach / assistant leader caught for misusing lots of money received through vouchers.
In Texas, there is a group of religious leaders who have formed a rather formidable presence in the state called Pastors for Texas Children (http://pastorsfortexaschildren.com/). And they are pro-public education! And they have been very influential. Dr. Diane Ravitch frequently talks of them in her iconic blog. They are against vouchers and other efforts of privatization. And they are active.
Apparently, North Carolina is seeing a similar movement. It’s called North Carolina Faith Leaders for Public Education. From a June 18th, 2018 article:
The group’s mission is to address problems such as underfunded public schools and programs.
Allison Mahaley chairs the organization’s public education committee and says the hope is the needs faith communities currently address can be dealt with at their root.
“What we want them to do is to keep doing that work, but to also realize that unless we advocate for changes in the public school at the policy level, there’s no end to the charity that will be required,” she states.
And don’t forget that we as a state are expanding vouchers by $10 million year until the year 2026-2027.
By that time we will have spent over $900 million dollars on vouchers in North Carolina in a system that is considered the least transparent in the entire country.