The Truth Behind Vouchers

by | Jul 27, 2015 | Education, NC Politics | 24 comments


And Why It’s a Moral Issue

Reverend William Barber has called NC and the nation together in what he calls a Moral Movement. When I first heard about his call to action, I thought, “I know where I live and what has happened here in the name of religion.” I was not sure I wanted to follow another black minister over a bridge to freedom. After all, Selma brought riots, exposed hatred, and deepened the commitment to marginalizing blacks by imprisoning them, vilifying them, and keeping them poor through systemic racism. What can an evangelical minister teach this white, liberal, atheist? Why should I listen to him when I am focusing on saving public schools, the last hope of poor children of all colors?

Last Thursday, the NC Supreme Court said that parents had the right to take state tax dollars via “Opportunity Scholarships” and use the money to go to schools of their “Choice.” The majority party has called this a victory for the poor and minority children across the state who now can choose not to attend a failing school – they can choose to attend a parochial school that teaches religious doctrine, a sectarian truth based on one sect. Vouchers can be used by any private school – private, unregulated homeschools even. White parents who want to shelter their children from the regimen and stress of over-testing can apply for these funds. Parents who want to let the kids watch TV, work in the yard, and/or roam free as an alternative form of homeschool can collect a check. The state has divorced itself from the responsibility of overseeing what education means – it has allowed segregation to recommence in the name of CHOICE. Let’s call this what it is – immoral.

Whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Humanist, Pagan, it doesn’t matter – America is a secular nation, not a sectarian one. When we refuse to support public education as an equal rights initiative, we fail as a society, because our forefathers knew that our government should never mix religion with politics. It is only by keeping each unencumbered by the other that men can truly be free. They set that ideal in stone in a document called the Constitution that found the idea of state sponsored religion so repugnant, they included in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. It is time to interrupt the narrative that these Founding Fathers meant to create a Christian Nation. Be a “true patriot” and see vouchers for what they – un-American.


  1. Musicman

    I have no idea why the Republican majority in the NC Legislature is so obviously intent on doing everything possible to eliminate the entire public school system (lip-service to minuscule salary raises for new teachers not being a viable contradiction to this), but if this ‘voucher’ program continues, they will have made a major step in that direction.

    Coming from a Christian denomination which has a very large parochial school system nationwide, I am nevertheless totally against public tax money being used to support parochial schools, charter schools, home schools, or any other non-public schools.

    If people wish to have their children educated and/or indoctrinated by the religious beliefs of any, they are free to do so — but they should do so with their own money, not mine. The Taliban depend on their madrases to maintain their crop of Islamic fundamentalists; why are we saying that there will be no further appeal from this NC law which forces us to support even schools with similar religious-fundamentalism curricula?

    it is too bad that so many state legislatures have become part of a U.S. “Taliban,” trying to force their own fundamentalist religious beliefs on the entire nation as they pass more and more anti-women’s-health legislation, anti-public-school legislation, … (and the list goes on).

    These laws are unconstitutional because they violate the prohibition against making laws “respecting religion.” Their supporters do so because of their religious beliefs; while they have every right to their beliefs, they should NOT have the right to enshrine those beliefs into state or federal law.

  2. wafranklin

    The “ladyliberty” clown is a well known Teabilly troll, who would never be able to that “school choice” is a propaganda point for the far right and evangelicals who infect the body politic these days.

  3. Joy Hewett

    How can you say this:
    Selma brought riots, exposed hatred, and deepened the commitment to marginalizing blacks by imprisoning them, vilifying them, and keeping them poor through systemic racism.

    The marches and Martin Luther KIng brought national attention to the plight of the black,and even if there were riots, exposing the hatred appalled Americans watching TV all over the country! You must be mighty young or have a very different perspective from those of us seeing the peaceful protests of many black people, and the retaliating violence as part of the move to integrate, and we did. I went to white public schools, and I taught in integrated ones. There was progress led by black ministers!

    • Norma

      I cringed over the same sentence, so thanks for the reply. I did conclude that her points about the tax payer money for private school vouchers was an important one, but still wish she had not included that comment.

      • Joy Hewett

        Yes, vouchers are a travesty, an attempt to undo public education and leave the voters ignorant in future generations, but Allison’s statement is so off the wall, I had to respond.

  4. Pat Wang

    Spot On. Someone is making money off of private and charter schools. but IF you get state or federal funds, you should be held accountable for the.use of those funds. My observation as a grandparent of home schoolers, is that many homeschool parents are pretty ignorant of standard grammar, math, etc. and home school for religious or racial reasons. Home school parents should have to pass some basic tests. A few kids can educate themselves after a certain point, but most can’t. Charter schools can be very good, but many many are an excuse to avoid others unlike themselves. If the folks who run charter schools choose to, they can make good money off of them. We taxpayers need to know where our money is going and what it is supporting.

  5. Theodore Ziolkowski






  6. C.D.

    As a childless taxpayer, now senior citizen, I have willingly paid my taxes to support PUBLIC education for all. Now I want to find out how I can withhold that portion of my taxes that goes to support the school voucher program that teaches religious and scientific concepts different from my own. I think those who want their children to learn a specific philosophy should be free to do so but at their own expense; i.e. the Catholic and public schools present in my youth.

    • Pat Wang

      Youngest Child is 44. When she needed something else we paid for it. A struggle, but possible. Sometimes it is important to learn a degree of conformity.

  7. cosmicjanitor

    If you can place the education system of any country into ‘for profit’ private hands, you can mold a society to believe anything it is told; the school voucher initiative has two objectives – easy money for the handlers and control of the educational content that is taught as fact, period; these are the only reasons Jeb Bush pushed so hard for school vouchers when he was governor of Florida.

  8. Hmmm

    Ms. Liberty: section 4 of that last law is what makes the $ available for, essentially, home schools. Only one of those 4 standards must be me to accept vouchers. The last one says that To be a “private school” that can take vouchers it must not accept public funds but then exempts the vouchers from the definition of public funds. If you think that this “qualification” is the same as accreditation, you’ve been fooled by the privatizers’ talking points.

  9. ladyliberty1885

    Ms. Mahaley,
    Did you read the bill that supports the Opportunity scholarships? The claim you made about the money being able to go to homeschoolers isn’t correct. There are qualifications for what is a ‘nonpublic’ school listed in the bill.


    Ҥ 115C-562.4. Identification of nonpublic schools and distribution of scholarship grant information.
    (a) The Division shall provide annually by February 1 to the Authority a list of all nonpublic schools operating in the State that meet the requirements of Part 1 or Part 2 of this Article. The Division shall notify the Authority of any schools included in the list that the Division has determined to be ineligible within five business days of the determination of ineligibility.
    (b) The Authority shall provide information about the scholarship grant program to the Division, including applications and the obligations of nonpublic schools accepting eligible students receiving scholarship grants. The Division shall ensure that information about the scholarship grant program is provided to all qualified nonpublic schools on an annual basis.


    Ҥ 115C-555. Qualification of nonpublic schools.
    The provisions of this Part shall apply to any nonpublic school which has one or more of the following characteristics:
    (1) It is accredited by the State Board of Education.
    (2) It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.a national or regional accrediting agency.
    (3) It is an active member of the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools.
    (4) It receives no funding from the State of North Carolina. For the purposes of this Article, scholarship grant funds awarded pursuant to Part 2A of this Article to eligible students attending a nonpublic school shall not be considered funding from the State of North Carolina.”

  10. RonS

    North Carolina’s attempt to resegragate the school system, eliminate diversity of culture, and allow for the establishment of religious extremists education. Those wanted to harm America from inside now have that opportunity.

  11. Allison Mahaley

    The public school system is being systematically dismantled for many reasons. Google Jeb Bush’s involvement with Charters and the whole idea that a business model is the answer – hedge fund managers are thrilled over that one. The community that once existed around the school broke down and so here we are – desegregated into “neighborhood” “magnet” “academies” but home-schoolers are the largest growing sub-group.

    • Allison Mahaley

      re- segregated – my schools were desegregated…more coffee, please!

  12. Russell Scott Day

    I an my family were often tormented in the small red dirt Southern town that was Elon College of my youth. When it came time to go to the high school, 9th grade, I took it on myself to get to the Burlington school last bus, and just went there instead.
    I don’t know if I’d get away with that these days, though I think it would be a good thing for children as I once was to escape from environments where they suffer.
    It was a public school to public school.
    The lottery was supposed to work towards per capita student spending, though how money is spent is more important than the money itself.
    (By the way, what is going on far as that money?)
    Not saying at all that the schools don’t need the proper funding, just that textbooks picked by censoring blockheads mean blockheads produced.
    The State of NC drives out those really concerned with a life of the mind. Many a student simply wants to flee.

  13. Tom

    Two questions – and I truly do not know the answers:

    1. Did pro-voucher people contribute in any significant amount to campaigns of the four who decided in favor of vouchers?

    2. Could vouchers be used for attendance at madrasa Islamic schools?

    • Carolyn

      They already do. Largest 2 recipients were an Islamic religious school and a Christian religious school.

    • Allison Mahaley

      The issue is that they teach the literal inerrancy of religious doctrine – religious doctrine that has been written by various nations to the ages to achieve subjugation of entire groups of people – women, Jews, homosexuals, Africans…it is very powerful to have a God on your side.

      • ladyliberty1885

        Wow. A lot of blanket statements there.

        No the issues is that parents get to choose where their child is educated.
        Clearly, the demand for these scholarships speaks for itself.

        • Rick Manheim

          The demand does speak for itself. But I don’t want my hard-earned money that I pay in taxes for public education to be “stolen” away for a child’s private school education. Rightfully, successful businesses and corporations in North Carolina should be paying a Private School Opportunity Scholarship Program tax to finance this, not the taxpayers!

          • ladyliberty1885

            Right, because the parent (also taxpayers) has no right to decide what kind of education or where that education should take place?

          • Alcinda Moore

            I agree Rick. When mine were young I sent them to a private school because our local school was a poor performer. This was in MA, not here in NC. At the time they were trying to get vouchers approved for private schools and I voted against it repeatedly.
            At this time I have no children in school here in NC (They’re 30 and 32 now), but I still want the best for our public school students! Public money to public schools only!! If you want your child in a private school, you pay for it! I’m not sure about here in NC, but in MA all the schools had some kind of assistance, scholarship. But leave tax money to public schools.

  14. Apply Liberally

    Right you are, Allison.
    And it is not only immoral and un-American, but the process by which the now partisan Supreme Court grabbed and decided the case so quickly –so as to advance the “private-school-at-tax-payer-expense” agenda– is a sad commentary on the politicalization of the NC court system.

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