In a 4-3 decision on Thursday, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of school vouchers – making it legal for public tax dollars to be used to help children attend private and religious schools.
State Lawmakers want to expand income eligibility programs for vouchers and want to provide $17.6 million in vouchers for this coming school year.
Here are some of the concerns that voucher programs raise:
Lack of Accountability
A key concern that voucher programs raise is their lack of accountability. Private and religious schools do not have the same rigorous standards that public schools have. For example private and religious schools:
- Do not require teachers to be certified
- Do not require criminal background checks for faculty and staff
- Do not have curriculum requirements
- Do not have responsibility for students achievements; and,
- May discriminate against students based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability because there is no law stopping them
“The main constitutional flaw in this program is that it provides no framework at all for evaluating any of the participating schools’ contribution to public purposes; such a huge omission is a constitutional black hole into which the entire program should disappear,” Justice Hudson wrote in her dissent after the ruling on Thursday.
Takes Funding Away From Public Schools
Lastly, voucher programs take away money that could be going to public schools. State legislatures want to spend $17.6 million on vouchers this year alone. In a state that is ranked 42nd in teacher pay, and 46th in public school funding per student. The NC Senate is also currently attempting to cut over 8,500 Teacher Assistants.
“Today is a very sad day in the history of our state,” said Yevonne Brannon, the chairwoman of Public Schools First NC. Public Schools First NC is an advocacy group that opposed vouchers, believing that the ruling will result in the transfer of tens of millions of desperately needed public education dollars to fund unaccountable private schools.