For all the claims of decadent secularism, school vouchers originated not in religious flight but in white flight. Like so much of the GOP agenda, school privatization is a vestige of the Backlash. So as Reverend Barber observed, we’re back in Civil Rights territory.
To understand the true nature of this debate, it’s important to review its historical roots. Modern vouchers date to 1960’s Atlanta, where whites panicked as blacks entered their neighborhoods. Desperate, white parents devised a scheme to pull funds out of public schools and send them to private White Flight Academies. With that, they maintained a segregated, publicly financed school system.
Vouchers still threaten to resegregate the school system. As “Opportunity Scholarships” become available to the middle class, the subsidies will supplement tuition for homogenous private academies. Poor families, who cannot cover the full cost of tuition, will be stuck in decreasingly diverse public schools. The result will be an educational landscape divided by race and quality.
The impact is as sinister as the optics. These less-funded, less diverse public schools will offer worse opportunities to students. Poor minorities will thus enter the workforce at a disadvantage. In the war over “Opportunity Scholarships,” opportunity will lose.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.
§ 115C-562.2. Scholarship grants.
(a) The Authority shall make available no later than February 1 annually applications to eligible students for the award of scholarship grants to attend any nonpublic school. Information about scholarship grants and the application process shall be made available on the Authority’s Web site. Beginning March 1, the Authority shall begin awarding scholarship grants according to the following criteria:
(1) First priority shall be given to eligible students who received a scholarship grant during the previous school year if those students have applied by March 1.
(2) After scholarship grants have been awarded to prior recipients as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection, scholarships shall be awarded with remaining funds as follows:
a. At least fifty percent (50%) of the remaining funds shall be used to award scholarship grants to eligible students residing in households with an income level not in excess of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.
b. No more than thirty-five percent (35%) of the remaining funds shall be used to award scholarship grants to eligible students entering either kindergarten or first grade.
c. Any remaining funds shall be used to award scholarship grants to all other eligible students.
(b) Scholarship grants awarded to eligible students residing in households with an income level not in excess of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program shall be for amounts of up to four thousand two hundred dollars ($4,200) per year. Scholarship grants awarded to eligible students residing in households with an income level in excess of the amount required for the student to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program shall be for amounts of not more than ninety percent (90%) of the required tuition and fees for the nonpublic school the eligible child will attend. Tuition and fees for a nonpublic school may include tuition and fees for books, transportation, equipment, or other items required by the nonpublic school. No scholarship grant shall exceed four thousand two hundred dollars ($4,200) per year per eligible student, and no scholarship grant shall exceed the required tuition and fees for the nonpublic school the eligible student will attend.
(c) The Authority shall permit an eligible student receiving a scholarship grant to enroll in a different nonpublic school and remain eligible. An eligible student receiving a scholarship grant who transfers to another nonpublic school during the year may be eligible to receive a pro rata share of any unexpended portion of the scholarship grant for tuition and fees at the nonpublic school to which the student transfers.
(d) The Authority shall establish rules and regulations for the administration and awarding of scholarship grants and may include in those rules a lottery process for selection of scholarship grant recipients within the criteria established by this section. (2013-360, s. 8.29(a).)
To garner an understanding of the law, one must first read it and then, hopefully understand what it written. To understand applicability and intent, you should understand several things; chief among them simple math and economics.
The pro side of this issue says it will help poor families gain access to “…educational opportunities….” I don’t see how. The maximum scholarship amount of $4,200 only covers one fourth to one third of tuition charged at some private schools. How precisely, would a family that must qualify for this tuition assistance by first qualifying for free school lunches be able to eat the remainder of that tuition amount? That’s right, they couldn’t. Yes, many schools have a graduated scale of tuition fees according to grade. Of what benefit, truly, would private school be in the primary grades?
No, to get the real scope of who is going to benefit, look one need simply look at (a)(2,c) of this statute. “Any remaining funds shall be used to award scholarship grants to all other eligible students.” That section allows any student to qualify outside the parameters of fiscal need based upon the other requirements to be funded, since the fiscal requirements exist in paragraphs (2,a) and (2,b) of this sub-section. So any money left, and I would conject there would be quite a chunk left due to the inability of actually ‘poor’ parents to afford to eat the remainder of tuition costs, even after assistance, would go to “…other eligible students.” Precisely those who Alex talks about.
The only ‘choice’ poor people have is public school. And the legislature took 11 million dollars away to fund their chronies. It’s time this law was stayed. It is unconstitutional. And yet again, it’s government for the few, not the many.
Oh BROTHER. Jeez.
Once again… came from a spot where they had schools of choice, bad stuff dreamed up my status quo people (read, “Those who lost power for the first time in 100 years”), none of that happened where tried elsewhere, etc etc etc.
Kinda like the horrors dreamed up about voter ID, right to work, etc etc.
(Let me translate for Dems: This is kinda like you think the GOP did for Obamacare — dreamed up all sorts of problems that, according to current Dem talking points, don’t exist. Same kinda thing.)