Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Case Against School Vouchers on Steroids: Governor Cooper Outlines Threats Extreme GOP Plan Poses to Public Schools and Students Across North Carolina

Following his declaration of 2024 as the Year of Public Schools, Governor Roy Cooper is illustrating the risks the extreme Republican voucher plan poses to children and public schools, where more than 8 in 10 North Carolina children attend school .
Mar 27, 2024

Following his declaration of 2024 as the Year of Public Schools, Governor Roy Cooper is illustrating the risks the extreme Republican voucher plan poses to children and public schools, where more than 8 in 10 North Carolina children attend school. Today, the Governor released a new video walking through the problems with this voucher plan on steroids, along with a new fact sheet and web page.

“The more parents learn about this irresponsible voucher plan, the more they’re concerned for the risks it poses to their children, our communities and our state,” said Gov. Cooper. “I’m not against private schools, but I am against sending taxpayer dollars to private schools with no accountability and extreme social agendas at the expense of public schools. North Carolina’s public schools are the choice for 84% of students and families and this scheme to gut them of funding and dismantle public education makes no sense.”

Republican legislators plan to divert $4 billion of taxpayer money over the next decade to pay for people to send their kids to private schools that don’t have to tell taxpayers what they teach, which students they accept or reject, or how students receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers perform academically. Legislators also removed an income cap on voucher eligibility, meaning wealthy people – including millionaires – can pick up a government check to cover private school tuition.

Public schools lose funding when a student uses a voucher to attend a private school. If the voucher program works like Republicans say it will, public schools will lose millions:

  • Public schools are funded based on how many students are enrolled. For each enrolled student, public schools currently receive an average of $7,500 in state funding to cover various expenses, such as teacher salaries, instructional materials, or transportation.
  • Under the voucher program, if a public school student uses a voucher to attend a private school, the public schools lose that funding. In just the first year of the expanded program, private schools could siphon more than $200 million in state funding from public schools.
  • And unlike public schools, private schools don’t have to have licensed teachers, pay for meals or transportation, or provide services to disabled students and they can reject students they don’t want to teach.

Similar private school voucher experiments in other states show a troubling reality. Expanded voucher programs don’t increase opportunity for new students at private schools but instead subsidize the education of students from wealthy families who have never attended a public school:

  • When Ohio, Florida, and Arizona expanded their voucher programs, the majority of students who received vouchers were existing private school students from wealthier families.
  • While 8 in 10 North Carolina students are in public schools, North Carolina’s voucher program will likely fund tuition for many wealthy students already enrolled in private school, diverting money needed in public classrooms without creating new opportunity for most students.

Private school voucher programs also have negative impacts on participating students’ academic performance, per studies across multiple other states.

  • In Louisiana, a study of their voucher program showed that students who used a voucher to switch to private schools who started out at the 50th percentile in math dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Participating students also lost ground academically in reading, science, and social studies.
  • In Indiana, research showed that students who used vouchers had significant losses in math achievement, and that those academic losses persisted for multiple years.
  • In Ohio, an evaluation of the state’s voucher program found that “students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools.”
  • In Washington, DC research showed that their voucher program resulted in a significantly negative impact on student achievement in math. Researchers determined that the academic loss for students was equivalent to missing 68 days of school.

Over the past several weeks, public reporting has raised serious questions about schools receiving taxpayer money despite extreme social agendas, like defending rape. Media stories have also pointed out that many of the state’s top private schools don’t accept state vouchers, meaning students are not afforded new opportunities at the best schools.

All the while, the public schools and public charter schools that continue to serve more than 80% of students are often being asked to do more with less. It is critical that legislators put a moratorium on destructive private school vouchers until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

Watch the Governor’s video here.

Read more about North Carolina's voucher program here.


Related Topics: