Interesting that in a year where lawmakers in Raleigh are trying to create more “transparency” in the public school classroom, they are trying to extend the voucher system to include more families so they may send more students to private schools where there is hardly any transparency at all.
It’s by design.
It’s consistently contradictory.
Think of “transparency” as a finite entity that supposedly covers an entire education system where state money is used for educating students both in public schools and in private schools that take vouchers. However, what is happening here is that more of the “transparency” is being shoved into public school classrooms with short-sighted application. The “transparency” that should have been in the voucher-receiving private schools seems to be not be there any longer. In fact, it was never really there because North Carolina has the least transparent voucher system in the country.
An “Opportunity Grant” in North Carolina is worth up to $4200 a year to cover (or help cover) tuition at a non-public participating school. Lawmakers in NC want to increase that amount and allow more families to be eligible.
According to the Private School Review (for this current school year), there were 34 private schools in North Carolina for which an Opportunity Grant could cover the entire tuition ($4200 or less).
The average cost of tuition at a private school in NC this year is almost $10,000. The most expensive has a tuition of over $55,000.
All 34 of those aforementioned schools are religiously affiliated schools. Over 20 of them take Opportunity Grants.
Please remember that tuition is only one of the costs. There tend to be other fees and expenses like books, supplies, transportation, costs for extracurricular activities, and food. What a voucher can’t cover, the family must fund themselves.
Currently NC is on pace to give almost a billion dollars to vouchers within the next ten years.
And this is a system that was considered the least transparent in the entire country in 2017. From the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke’s School of Law:
And still is in the 2020 version of the report from the same research team.
Here is some more food for thought from the NCSEAA, the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
Again, these are mostly religious schools that do not have regulations on curriculum and nothing really to enforce open admission standards. In fact, in most cases, it is hard to even measure how well voucher students do academically compared to public schools which are highly regulated and very transparent. From that most recent 2020 Duke study:
Now just view the schools in the past few years that have taken the most voucher money.
And the same lawmakers who are pushing “transparency” in our public schools are actively pushing to have more vouchers be used in non-transparent private schools.