In case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out Professor Jane Wettach’s excellent essay in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which she exposes the enormous practical and constitutional problems with the school voucher scheme passed into law by conservative politicians last summer. The essay comes, of course, in the aftermath of Friday’s very welcome court ruling that enjoined the implementation of the new law. Among other things, Wettach cites several damning statistics from a new report by the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University Law School including:
- A total of 696 private schools are registered with the State Division of Non-Public Education. Of those, 70 percent are religious and 30 percent are independent.
- A quarter of the private schools have enrollments of fewer than 20 students; nearly another quarter have enrollments of fewer than 50 students.
- North Carolina’s private schools operate throughout the state, though there are nine counties with no private schools and 17 counties with just one private school. In those 17 counties, the single private school is religious.
- The average tuition of private day schools in North Carolina is $6,690.
- Only 35 percent of schools charge tuition that could be fully paid by a voucher (i.e., $4,200 per year or less). Of those schools, more than 90 percent are religious schools. At the middle and high school level, about 95 percent are religious schools.
- About 70 percent of the schools have no accreditation from any type of independent agency.
- Only 30 percent of the private schools in North Carolina employ only certified teachers. Twenty percent of schools have no certified teachers; another 25 percent have fewer than half certified teachers.
- Only 25 percent of the private schools follow the North Carolina curriculum standards.
- About 70 percent of the private schools are racially segregated, meaning that more than 80 percent of the students are of one race. A third of the private schools reported that their enrollment is more than 90 percent of one race. Twenty-nine percent are more than 90 percent white; 4 percent are more than 90 percent black.
As Wettach notes further:
“Providing a free public education to the children of this state undoubtedly meets the “public purpose” requirement of our constitution. But providing a taxpayer-funded subsidy to a group of children whose parents would prefer to send them to religious school does not. While parents are, and should be, free to send their children to the school of their choice, the public purpose requirement of our constitution does not allow the taxpayers to pay for that choice.”
Read the entire op-ed by clicking here.