The case against school vouchers in one blistering court ruling

Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2014

Of all the self-interested scams perpetrated by school “reformers” against public education, the school voucher scam may be the most dishonest. In their undiluted form, these programs are a sop to right wingers and religious fanatics convinced that teaching children that the Founding Fathers were all upstanding Christian gentlemen and evolution should be doubted somehow prepares them for life in the 21st century. This week in Raleigh, N.C., a judge named Robert Hobgood called out North Carolina’s version of the swindle for what it was: a raid on the state treasury. …. “Private schools receiving Opportunity Scholarships are not subject to any requirements or standards regarding the curriculum that they teach, are given no requirement for student achievement, are not obligated to demonstrate any growth in student performance, and are not even obligated to provide a minimum amount of instructional time.” The voucher law, he observed, doesn’t require that the recipient schools “provide their students with instruction in any subject,” or that teachers or principals “be trained, certified, or qualified,” or that the schools themselves be “certified by any public or private agency.”

Related:
Large, out-of-state donors fuel North Carolina’s school “choice” movement
Source: Lindsay Wagner, NC Policy Watch, May 21, 2013

In March of 2012, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and ten other state lawmakers flew to Florida on the dime of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), an organization known for endorsing conservative education reform initiatives, including school vouchers. In the year that has followed, North Carolina has absorbed a flood of more than $90,000 in campaign contributions to lawmakers friendly to the school choice movement….

…Since the Florida gathering, lawmakers in the North Carolina legislature have introduced more than 20 bills related to school choice. Rep. Marcus Brandon, one of the eleven lawmakers who went to Florida, argues that “it is unconstitutional not to give students a choice” when it comes to their education. He has introduced six bills related to school choice this session, including two bills that would bring vouchers to the state.Brandon was also one of several lawmakers who, in 2012, received campaign donations from PEFNC’s PAC as well as individual PEFNC funders….

…Previously known as Advocates for School Choice, AFC rebranded itself in March 2010 and also joined with the Alliance for School Choice, which was previously known as the Education Reform Council. Both of these groups have received considerable amounts of funding from the late John Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune. Their board members include Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune who has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of seed money into school choice groups, and his wife Betsy DeVos, who actually runs AFC and is known for her conservative Christian right-wing ideology and for having poured millions into promoting voucher programs across the country…. In February, the AFC contributed $800,000 to pro-voucher ad campaigns for two voucher-friendly candidates running for the legislature in Tennessee. In Wisconsin, the AFC has been very active in reaching out to disability groups to garner their support for vouchers, and has also pitched to them the idea of getting disability vouchers into the state budget….