by R. Alan Harrop, Ph.D
In a recent article, I included school vouchers as one of five issues that the N. C. General Assembly should address in their next session. The purpose of this article is to provide more information about how important school vouchers have become over the past few years.
Most parents and citizens assume that the public school system, which is very well funded, is focused on teaching essential academic skills and is being successful. The reality of these assumptions could not be further from the truth. The academic achievement (ranking) of American public schools has continued to diminish so that now Americas’ school students rank 38th in math scores and 24th in science according to a Business Insider report in 2018. Since the school lockdowns the situation is most certainly worse. The national average expenditure per student in 2021-22 was $15,047 per student with North Carolina spending $11,651. The question becomes are we getting a good return on our expenditure? Assuredly not.
Another issue with public schools is the wide disparity between schools in the same district. Here in Craven County, the highest ranking Elementary School in math proficiency is 67% while the lowest is 10%. Why the wide disparity? Similar disparities exist for reading proficiency. Which school a child attends is crucial. According to recent data, home schooled children typically score 15 to 30 percent higher on standard achievement tests. The difference is even higher for Black children who achieve 23 to 40 percent higher than those in public schools.
Beyond academics however, is the increasing concern parents have about the Woke ideology prevalent in public schools. Critical Race Theory, demeaning America, transgender instruction and encouragement, and inappropriate sex education are increasing concerns of parents. Even though a school may deny specific classes on these topics, most teachers subscribe to these beliefs and consequently infuse their beliefs on their students through their daily interaction.
The bottom line is whether the parents or the government has the right to select the type of education that a child receives. If you believe the government has that right, then like most Leftists, you will support the public school system. If however, you believe that parents have that right then school vouchers are the only way to fairly allow parents to exercise that right. The state of Arizona recently passed legislation that allows parents the authority to direct the per student tax money to public, private, charter or homeschools. This should serve as a model for North Carolina. No reason not to. The question becomes whether the General Assembly has the will to take a stand on this critical issue.
Freedom,to be meaningful, must be exercised in all arenas of society. What can be more important than ensuring that the children of this country receive the best education possible?