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Not much opportunity

publicprivate.jpgWe really would like to have been wrong about this one.

Just as we said, the House introduced HB 944, or the ironically named "Opportunity Scholarship program" last night. This barely-disguised voucher bill draws the battle lines between those who believe in the future of public education, and those who want a private, for-profit version of education, are clearly drawn.  The private and religious schools eligible to receive the more than $90 million in public funds under this voucher scheme are allowed to discriminate on a variety of grounds, and the direct result will be in public money going directly to private institutions.

The total bill for this plan will be in excess of $90 million dollars over the next two years, all in public money that would be channeled to private schools. With a public school system that has been weakened by repeated budget cuts over the past decade, our schools can scarcely afford this direct assault.

Vouchers would send an unwelcome signal that North Carolina is giving up on public education. Vouchers would divert scarce funds from genuine education reform efforts for the vast majority of students who will remain in public schools.

North Carolina is already near the bottom of spending on a per-pupil basis, ranking 48th in the nation.  This proposal would further reduce our spending by more than $17 million for the 2013-2014 school year, and more than $25 million in the next school year, according to the General Assembly’s own fiscal analysis.

To say we think this is a bad idea is really an understatement. This bill is nothing less than a full frontal assault on public education as we know it in North Carolina. Help us beat back this attack on public education and show the NCGA that public money should stay in public schools.