Today, there are several adults and children in the legislative building wearing T-shirts with the logo of Parents for Educational Freedom of North Carolina and the words “Lift the Cap on Opportunity Scholarships.” It is great when students get to see how government works.
Rather than the excitement of floor debates (although, they would have heard a stirring but constitutionally incorrect speech about vouchers by a legislator last week) or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibusters, all students will see are the offices of a part-time citizens’ legislature that does more meeting in caucus than meting out constitutional law.
It just goes to show that like government in operation, the vouchers are not quite what they seem.
- The voucher program violates the state constitution by taking money that is for the exclusive us of public schools to unaccountable private schools. (This would be a great lesson in government that students should learn).
- Vouchers are said to help students who are struggling in public schools. Private schools, however, have barriers to admission like entrance exams that can keep a student with academic trouble out of the private school even with a voucher.
- Vouchers are supposed to be given to low-income students but the $4,200 voucher is unlikely to provide enough money to attend a quality private school. The parents that are in the legislature today should not have to dig in their pockets to get the free public education that the General Assembly is constitutionally required to provide. (Another lesson in government the students should learn).
- Some promoters of vouchers in the General Assembly see the students as if they are commodities. They say that it is cheaper to give them a voucher than it is to educate them in public schools. The students should be offended that the government that is responsible for educating them is trying to do so “on the cheap.”
One can hope that when the students received their T-shirts that they also received a copy of Article IX of the North Carolina Constitution.
Their government should be more concerned with ensuring they will be wearing a gown and cap at graduation rather than lifting the cap on an unconstitutional program.