Dismantling public education

by | Apr 28, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 32 comments

I  remember when Republicans were first pushing the voucher scheme that will upend our public schools and turn many of them into underfunded warehouses for poor children. Back then, they insisted that “opportunity scholarships,” as they call them, were designed to give kids from economically disadvantaged families a chance to go to private schools. They insisted they were not going to subsidize wealthy families who already had kids in public schools. 

Well, that turned out to be bullshit, just like their pledge not to cut funding for our public university system. Now, Republicans are passing a plan to subsidize anybody who sends their kids to private schools while taking that money out of public schools. They claim they are “funding students, not systems.” In reality, they are starving systems, especially poor ones, and putting more money into the pockets of rich people and schools that teach their kids. 

There’s so much wrong with the program that it makes my head hurt. The whole concept of dollars following students, not systems ignores the principle of economies of scale. The amount of funding per pupil in traditional public schools is about to shrink even more. Rural schools are going to take a disproportional hit and yet rural legislators are underpinning the legislation. We’ll become more economically and racially segregated. But the real problem is simply one of values. 

The voucher system Republicans are about to enact rewards people who already have money and penalizes those that are struggling. They have no sense of obligation to the least of these, despite their Christian leanings. The public school system under Republicans has suffered as they’ve let teacher pay and per pupil spending dwindle. Now, they are further relieving wealthy people from the responsibility of helping those struggling to overcome poverty. They’ve adopted a Randian view of the world that blames victims and celebrates greed. 

Republicans like to believe that they’ve earned their money with no help from the government or anybody else. A quick look at their social media profiles exposes the fallacy. They’re touting their Wolfpack or Tar Heel credentials. Many are products of our public schools. They benefit from the infrastructure and economic development programs that have attracted industry. They are the epitome of people who believe they’ve got theirs and they are pulling up the ladder behind them.

In their world view, they’ve been successful because of their hard work and good decisions while poor people find themselves in their station in life because of poor choices and sloth. They ignore the impact of everything from historic discrimination to bad trade policies to mental illness. Poverty, they believe, is a choice. In reality, they’re just rationalizing greed. 

Republicans will tell you that people should choose how to use their own money. If they want to fund schools, they will. If they don’t, they won’t, but government shouldn’t tell them where their money goes. In a democracy, though, it’s not government telling them where their money should go, it’s the rest of society. It’s what we call citizens. And citizens aren’t telling rich people how to spend their money, they are telling the government what they need to fund. In North Carolina historically, that’s mainly been public schools, universities, and community colleges. The GOP aims to change that. 

Unfortunately, Republicans have diminished democracy in the state. While we are regularly evenly split in electoral outcomes, Republicans are governing with a veto-proof majority as if they have a mandate. Gerrymandering, not public opinion or the desires of citizens, is driving the policy in Raleigh these days. And gerrymandered legislators are aiming to dismantle public education.

Voucher schemes are an attack on the public contract. They strip more resources from communities that need more support. They expose an ethos of greed that rewards those who have benefitted most from our society while increasing obstacles for those trying to climb out of poor economic circumstances.  They further the divide between those who have and those who don’t.

Politically, Republicans may have handed Democrats a cudgel. Vouchers cut funds for public schools while giving tax breaks to rich people. North Carolinians have never bought that rhetoric. They don’t believe our public schools are beyond fixing, no matter how hard Republicans have tried to break them over the past 12 years. They support teachers and schools are sources of pride for many communities, especially economically disadvantaged ones. I don’t think they will take well to the plan to shift public money into private schools. They’ve created a morally dubious solution to a problem that did not exist before the GOP took over the state legislature.


  1. Calcman75

    Thanks to cocodog, I visited the Charter Schools site and corrected my knowledge regarding the charter regulations. Those schools are primarily funded by state and local tax dollars and cannot discriminate in admissions, nor associate with any religion or religious group, and may not charge tuition. The remaining regulations in my opinion are far too lax and fail to provide adequate accountability for those tax dollars. The part of my comment about the private schools should have only applied to those unregulated by the state. Indeed, the Opportunity Scholarship program acts as a slush fund with zero accountability for the public tax dollars. The last two sentences of my previous comment need no correction.

    • cocodog

      Traditional schools cannot espouse one religions over another, provide free and reduced lunches, transportation which is required to meet state safety standards for school buses, to and from school are accountable to the locally elected board of education and must adhere to strict lesson plan guidelines, meet educational standards as measured by yearly end of grade testing, require continuing education for their teachers and administrators and every dollar spent is accountable to the people. Moreover, is required to accept every kid in their district. Traditional public schools cannot choose their students.
      Republicans have created system of charter schools that are not required to follow those guide lines, but receive your tax dollars without any reasonable accountability. Republicans have created and funded these charters with your tax dollars that do not have to play by same rules that govern the traditional schools.

  2. Carolyn B Guckert

    Seems this is worthy of a lawsuit. I pay taxes to fund PUBLIC education, not private education. So now my money is being funneled away from public schools without my OK? This cannot be kosher. No taxpayer signed up for this. Surely Common Cause or some other entity will sue the state?

    • Ellie

      Agree. And, vouchers, lack of oversight has been in court in NC. Others have tried to stop this travesty no avail.

  3. cocodog

    What I am getting from these Republican commentators regarding NC “s real public schools they generally do not have a lot of understanding of what it takes to educate a child. Nor do they understand the economics of education.
    They rant and rave that their child is not getting enough attention in real public schools, and they can not put their child in a charter school due to a waiting list.
    Charters can get away with these waiting lists as unlike real public schools they are not required by law to take every child. Moreover, charters can pick and choose their students. Of course, charters are allowed to boot any child out. They are not accountable to an elected board of education. Charters board consists of corporate officers from the company, many of whom do not reside in NC and the owner operators. Parents have no say so in the operation of the school. Nor can they change the structure of the board through the democratic process.
    Charters are for profit operations, which means they can hire persons who are not properly credentialed and pay them ridiculously low wages, without benefits. What type of educator do you think they get?

    Charters are supported by taxpayer funds, yet the taxpayer has no input as to how they are operated.
    The Republican voucher system draws taxpayer funds away from NC real public education system. If Republicans give $3,300 to a family to pay for their kid’s education in a privately-operated, for-profit charter, the real public schools lose more than $ 7,400. This puts taxpayer money in the charter school operator’s pocket.
    Do charters overall do better in educating your kid than the real public schools? Studies done by the US Dept of Education and Stanford University indicate 37 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were worse than traditional public schools, 46 percent demonstrated no significant difference, and 17 percent were “significantly better.” Overall, charters are not doing better than the real public school system, but they are making money for their owners.

  4. TC

    Good grief. Vouchers are a way of siphoning money out of the public school system and re-directing it. Charters are not part of the public school system. They are private entities. They have their own boards, their own teachers, their own administrators. Charters are not held to the same accountability or academic standards as public schools are. They are quasi-private for profits that feed at the public school trough. Parasites in other words.

    Why? The reason, if the real truth is ever known, is twofold. Capitalism and social engineering. It feeds public dollars into the pockets of a select few and it ensures that those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder remain there. The methodology to do is our old friend, the classical divide and conquer strategy. Look at how the opinions have split here. Some/most/all, if truthful have kids in public school and fall on both sides of the line. In reality, they should be on the same side of the line; funding the school system to ensure their children are educated. People with the same goal in mind I’m assuming.


    This way, they have a solid foundational basis upon which to 1. build, or 2. function in society as a viable member thereof if they decide 12 years is plenty of education. But that is the fallacy in the model, isn’t it? Everyone grew up believing that to succeed, you needed to go to college. The prep education system was built around that premise. If you weren’t in that groove, you were roundly ignored or became a face in the crowd. And that was mostly the poor and lower income kids. Kids from broken homes. It’s still that way. Poor kids come in all colors. Having had the benefit of attending 1st – 8th grade in a different state, I can say this with complete confidence; NC has never been stellar in preparatory education. It was adequate, but never exemplary. The university system was exceptional though. I never quite understood that or why. But along the way, I’ve developed the belief it has everything to do with what teachers are paid and the money to bring learning alive in the classroom. Who is willing to squander their professional lives dedicated to the premise of mediocre? Why isn’t public school working? Perhaps because of policies that assign numerical credit for work that isn’t done. Don’t do the work, get a 50% or a 40%. Rewarding no effort or output and wondering why it’s failing. Give them what they actually earned and get fired for your effort. Yeah, I wonder why new college grads aren’t knocking down the door to get into that game.

    Schools started losing control too. Law enforcement became a part of the staffing model. Were there more efficient methods than arrest or juvenile petitions to handle problems? You bet. But not when Child Protective Services or DSS were injecting themselves. Take a look at your local school and if you’re able, compare the number of counselors and administrative staff to the number of teachers today, 10 years ago, 20 years ago.

    A sound and substantive education is keystone to a successful society. It isn’t a competition nor a money-making opportunity for a few. It should have no compromise. It should be a noble calling for those who are challenged to bring the light of knowledge to those who are in need of it, desire it, thirst for it. It also shouldn’t be politicized. It has become that. A way for Republicans to ensure that their base is taken care of and the next generation of the ruling class is fostered through with their silver spoons intact.

  5. Joe Beamish

    Ya gotta hand it to cunservatives. They’re really good at cramming their beliefs down everyone’s throats.

    • ringlet86

      ….their beliefs down everyone’s throats.?

      Which /What beliefs?

  6. Lisa Kaylie

    It’s really all about money in the end. The US privatized our prison systems and we incarcerate more people with worse outcomes than any other first world country. Where is the next big pot of money? Education. Be prepared for more spending with worse outcomes. A tragedy for our children, families, and democracy.

    • ringlet86

      Perhaps Republicans are trying to break the School to prison pipeline?

      Worth a try?

  7. ringlet86

    Let the people keep their money. Let them do with it as they wish. It is theirs after all. If public Schools are superior then they have nothing to worry about and in fact should relish the chance to show everyone how its done.

      • ringlet86

        of course not. But competition is the last thing public schools want. Because they KNOW they will lose.

    • cocodog

      You need to pull your kids (providing you were able to reproduce) out of the public school system. They do not need another child who cannot learn and detracts from educating other kids desiring to learn. Put your kids in the so-called charter schools where many of the teachers are not properly credentialed and work for lower wages and no benefits. Do it now, quit wasting time and public resources. There is a car wash future awaiting that child!

      • ringlet86

        Ironically all the charter schools around here are full! One has a three year waiting list!

        Its a public school just like my home base school. I’ve no idea why people don’t like them.

        Its public education.
        It reduces class size in the “main school”
        and people chose to go there.

        What’s not to like?

        • Calcman75

          Those public charter schools are indeed part of the public schools in their respective systems and are fully funded by the state, and those schools with some modifications, still must adhere to state standards and requirements for testing, hiring licensed faculty and administration, who are part of the state employees of North Carolina, and reporting for accountability purposes. Guess where you can not use an Opportunity Scholarship: a public charter school. Public charters are part of the schools of choice available in many public systems, such as magnet schools, language immersion programs, and various others. Now w here can you use those Opportunity Scholarships: Private charter schools that are overseen by a totally separate Charter Schools entity, private religious schools, and private schools that can be set up by any person who can meet the minimal requirements required by the state. Under the Opportunity Scholarship guidelines, these do not have to meet any of the accountability requirements for faculty, curriculum, attendance, testing/reporting of results, though some reputable programs do. Oh, and here is the best part for those private schools: they get to choose those Opportunity Scholars by any discriminatory process of their choosing, and if they accept your scholar and suddenly find the fit isn’t right, they can send you back to the public school that did not receive funding for your scholar, and they get to keep the money. What’s not to like?

          • cocodog

            I am not sure where you did your research, but mostly everything you said is not correct! The 2020 NC Charter School Report found: since 1998, 48 charter schools have voluntarily relinquished their charters, one has been assumed by another non-profit board, ten have been non-renewed, and seventeen charters have been revoked. During the 2018-19 school year, approximately 25% (47) charter schools were identified as either low-performing or continually low-performing. Of the charter schools in operation, fewer than 50% (80) provide reduced-priced lunches and slightly more than 50% (108) provide bus transportation. Those figures may have changed in 2022. Furthermore: The Charter:
            • Can be managed by for-profit companies, and there is no requirement that board members reside in North Carolina.
            • Have no curriculum requirements. (Charters do not have to adhere to NC standards)
            • Have no restrictions on class size.
            • Do not have to staff classrooms with fully licensed teachers. Only 50 percent of teachers must be licensed. (Public schools require teachers to have met higher standards)
            • Are not required to hold teacher workdays for professional training and development. (Continuing education is not required for their teaching staff)
            • Are not required to provide transportation to students, and those that do provide transportation are not subject to the same safety standards as traditional public schools.
            • Are exempt from public bidding laws that protect how tax dollars are spent. There is no transparency in budgeting since charter schools do not have to tell the public how they spend their tax dollars. (How convenient!)
            Republicans have set up a fantastic system for private enterprise to profit from your tax dollars.

  8. Steven M Hutton

    And they want us to believe there’s no such thing as systemic racism or class warfare.

    • Robert Lozier

      This NC GOP has been building an insidious multi-level Segregation 2.0 for decades. It is disgusting….

    • ringlet86

      There isn’t. If there truly was a SYSTEM of Racism. We would all be able to point at it…sort of like….JIm CROW
      If there is a system of racism The Democrats will fight tooth and nail to preserve it. Like they did for the repeal of pistol permits. A Jim Crow law!

      If there is a new system of racism put in place the Democrats will do it because they are the experts. History shows this clearly. And of course we all know how much Democrats love their experts! put a few letters after your name and they will lay down and do whatever you want LOL!

      Any systemic racism that exists today is in your mirror when you look at it. Stop being like that.

      • cocodog

        I would put that comment right up there with the notion Democrats rigged the election, so Donnie lost. Of course we also organized and sent that pack of slobbering morons down to the capital to beat up cops, destroy taxpayer owned property and defecate in the halls. Get real !

        • ringlet86

          …Of course we also organized and sent that pack of slobbering morons down to the capital to beat up cops, destroy taxpayer owned property and defecate in the halls….

          Actually for that The democrats use BLM and Antifa. The only difference is they don’t get arrested very much. Even when they are legitimately burning stuff down, smashing windows, looting businesses, wrecking cars, blocking traffic, spray pepper spray all over throwing large fireworks at the police, fighting the police, and shine strong green lasers to blind the police. In fact the press covers for them and on one occasion the vice President of the United State post bail for them! and of course most DA’s don’t prosecute all the crimes I just listed.

          As to the racism of the democrat party Its the history of the party. Not much to be done about it.

          As to a current systemic racist system in the USA today. There isn’t one. Proof of that is we have BIPOC in just about every high office you can think of in this country. If we have a system to keep down whomever Its not working very well! Probably because it simply does not exist.

          • cocodog

            Of course, Democrats are not arrested or investigated because of BLM and Antifa shenanigans for the simple reason we have never encouraged any form of violent activities, nor condoned them. To say we do is a lie! You might say this is a lie right up there with the lie Trump won the election and Dominion voting machines were used to game the outcome in our favor.
            Democrats have never said there are good people on both sides, advised them to stand down and stand by or held public meetings to whip up them up to go down to the capital to take back our country. Quite the opposite. We have never sent out emails encouraging them to meet in a local park, telling them it is going to be hot. We have never done this. Nor will we ever!
            The Democratic Party is made up of Americans that believe in the Constitution, and the country it governs. We support the notion this country is founded on the principle that all are entitled to live out their lives with dignity and free from having the beliefs of others shoved down their throats. The only thing we expect is no person shall use theirs to injure another. We are the opposite of this latest batch of Republicans.

          • ringlet86

            …”Of course, Democrats are not arrested or investigated because of BLM and Antifa shenanigans for the simple reason we have never encouraged any form of violent activities, nor condoned them… Laughable Those groups are protected and encouraged by Democrats and their ranks are filled with them. Get real.

            “Trump, Trump, Trump… Your TDS is showing. Perhaps there is some medication for it.

            …”The Democratic Party is made up of Americans that believe in the Constitution…” LOL This is parody? What? Except for the 2nd, Parts of the first the 4th , and 5th and the 10th and that s off the top of my hea. for starters? I know “champion of the Constitution is the FIRST THING I THINK OF when I think of today’s Democrat. LOL what a joke. I think you are talking about a different party.

            …We support the notion this country is founded on the principle that all are entitled to live out their lives with dignity and free from having the beliefs of others shoved down their throats….Delusional. Democrats constantly pester people with what HOW THEY THINK THEY SHOULD LIVE, How, Where and why. Right down to the light Bulbs you buy and the car you drive to how much water you use to wipe your ass. Its constant.

            This is some kind of a joke.

  9. adamclove

    Between the head of NCAE smirking that “Learning loss is a false construct” and the rest of her ‘not-a-union’ union demanding that they get first crack at mRNA shots before even discussing reopening schools, then keeping little kids masked for years afterward based on junk science, THEN angrily decrying parents’ concerns about illustrated gay fellatio guides in school libraries, it’s Democrats and their NCAE base who’ve given Republicans an opening to push the School Choice agenda through. You guys brought this on yourselves.

    Despite all your virtue pandering, the bottom line is this: Democrats spent the last 100 years turning government school systems into a wholly-owned patronage system. The interlocking organizations of donors, appointments, tenured professorships, and multi-layered educrat bureaucracies, all pumping money and voters into Democrat campaigns at all levels has given your party a built-in constituency and an avenue for infecting public education with one version of history, civics, and sociology, all the while twisting almost all curriculae into a factory for pumping out Dem activists.

    School choice will, as you say, upend all of that. It gives an escape hatch to parents who aren’t interested in turning their kids over to the Leftist activist pipeline machine, and will, indeed siphon money away from your patronage system. It changes the game, and kicks the legs out from under one of the centerpieces of your party’s organizing structure.

    State by state, you’ll have to sit there and watch it happen, unable to do anything about it. Enjoy reaping the fruits of your condescending sanctimony. You’ve earned it.

    • RKent

      I am a parent with a kid in public school..no textbooks and teachers overstressed and underpaid. This is the result of 15 years of GOP leadership since 2008! Why should public dollars go to people who can well-afford private schools? YOUR comments about masks and gay fellatio is absolute garbage. Are you okay with straight fellatio b/c I guarantee there’s a book out there somewhere in a library? You are killing me with your ridiculous “leftist” comments – what exactly do you think is happening at elementary, middle, and high schools – they aren’t learning anything that they don’t see in the general public. I encourage you to sit in a classroom and hear exactly what’s happening…history, english and math and that’s about it unless kids are taking AP or honors courses.

      • ringlet86

        I too have kids in public schools, and I am, not impressed. I’d much rather had that money to get a quality education for them. I’ve spent a lot of money I shouldn’t have to bring them up to a proper level.

        “…no textbooks…” Schools chose to have no text books. To “save money” because books are not “up to date” when of course 99% of what they teach is hundreds of years old. In effect it allowed them to teach whatever they wanted and the parents had no idea. BTW they school never asked what parents wanted. They just removed them

        …”and teachers overstressed and underpaid…” I think if you look into the admin side of the budget, you’ll find an top heavy organization that does anything but work directly with students. That is where the money has gone.

        …”Why should public dollars go to people who can well-afford private schools?” What are taxes? They are a collection of PRIVATE, PERSONAL money. It belongs to the taxpayer. So if they decide they want to spend it on some other kind of school. What business is it of yours? or of the state? What they do in the schooling of THEIR CHILDREN, IS THEIR BUSINESS. Parents are in charge not the state. Unless there is a glaring problem MYOB.

        ..”what exactly do you think is happening at elementary, middle, and high schools – they aren’t learning anything that they don’t see in the general public.” Uh no. I don’t typically see literature about how to suck off my lover in the general public. Which they are now teaching in public schools . Just ask, if they will let you. I’m sure teaching in history, english and math is cut short so they can fit in lessons about how horrible white people are, and of course how to please your lover, and sodomize properly.

        I don’t think a kid today could pass a curriculum from the 1950s,60s or 70s. but I bet those kids could pass today easily.

        • cocodog

          Get those kids out of the public school system immediately. Home school and charters are awaiting. Go for it

          • ringlet86

            Alas. The State took my money, so I’m trapped.

            Otherwise I would.

    • cocodog

      Adam “Rush Want to Be” Clove.
      Where have you been? Anyway, since you have been gone, Republicans have been caught in a big lie, several crimes and one of your spiritual leaders has been fired by Fox. Based on your comments, reading comprehension is still one of your weaknesses. You never answered my question; did you read the posting before enlightening us with your wisdom?

    • Mike

      You are utterly full of shit, and you god Rush F. Limbaugh is still dead.

      • cocodog

        We are truly blessed, the jerk is dead.

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!