Why Vouchers Only Work For A Very Few In NC – It’s Because Of Money, Not Educational Outcomes

It’s happening.

Almost as if it was scripted and arranged beforehand with the switch of Rep. Tricia to the GOP over “personal grievances.”

It’s House Bill 823.

The ultimate school choice bill.

You might want to look at this part:

This bill is not something that North Carolina is entertaining alone. These types of bills are being touted in many states with the same verbiage and lots of external support from people like Betsy DeVos and highly financed school choice activists like Corey DeAngelis.

Just do a search or two and you will find that he is a major player in expanding school choice. The phrase “Fund students, not systems” is one commonly used by him.

There are a few things that should be completely understood about this type of “school choice” reform.

First, this bill focuses mostly on vouchers, which in North Carolina are called Opportunity Scholarships. In other states where vouchers have become a favored reform, those who use vouchers tend to be families who never sent their students to public schools in the first place. According to NCPE, states like Arizona (80%), New Hampshire (89%), and Wisconsin (75%) have high percentages of vouchers given to students who already attend private schools. Josh Cowen, a professor of Education Policy at the University of Michigan, states, “‘Fund students, not systems’ is just a cute ad campaign that really means ‘Tax breaks for existing private school parents.'”

Next, vouchers in most states and especially in North Carolina are not transparently monitored for effectiveness. It is deliberately hard to see if a private school is “underperforming” because they are not required to share data from standardized tests that public schools have to administer. To measure the effectiveness of a voucher would require a lot more oversight that pro-school choice people are not willing to give.

Vouchers have never been shown to improve educational outcomes. The closest thing to an in-depth study of the North Carolina voucher system as it stands occurred in 2018 and it was conducted through the Friday Institute at NC State University.

That same report refers to the overwhelming amount of vouchers (>90%) going to religious schools – many of which opened after the voucher system was put into place.

Furthermore, the popularity of vouchers in NC has never really been that high. From 2019:

That’s from Phil Berger. The bill mentioned above sponsored by the former public school administrator Cotham expands the eligibility of vouchers so that the money can be “claimed” and thus fuel more “need” and therefore more money to be invested in it.

But here is probably what is most egregious about vouchers. Supposedly it is about “school choice.” Even the bill above is partly titled “Choose Your School.” Yet that is a misnomer.

Why? Because “School Choice” here really means “Schools’ Choice.” While those religious schools that are already tax exempt are allowed to take tax payer money to operate without the transparency of student achievement, they also have the ability to limit whom they admit into their schools.

You don’t fit the mold? No admittance. Already have a track record of discipline? No admittance. Special needs student with an IEP? A much higher rate of no admittance.

Josh Cowen )who was mentioned above) has also stated that vouchers help create a system in which three separate categories house all private schools in a voucher state.

  1. “High performing schools that don’t need students or vouchers” (and probably have a price tag well above what the average per-pupil expenditure is for each student in the state).
  2. “Sub-prime schools desperate for money to stay open.”
  3. New schools opening just for the money – usually to fund a church (which is not taxed).”

It’s almost like he was talking about North Carolina specifically.