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Editorial: Voucher supporters should revisit N.C.’s Constitution

If Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood’s ruling finding the state’s new school voucher program unconstitutional caught you off guard, it shouldn’t have.

The editorial board for the Fayetteville Observer writes Hobgood’s decision was not only correct, it was the only ruling that should have been handed down from the bench. Here’s more from Friday’s editorial in the Observer:

School-vouchersNo surprise: Wake Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled exactly as he had to. North Carolina’s school voucher program is unconstitutional.

A fourth-grade remedial-reading student could have predicted that. Article IX, Section 6 of the N.C. Constitution leaves no wiggle room. Education funding “shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of free public schools.” There’s no footnote about funding private schools.

Voucher proponents say they’ll immediately appeal to higher courts. They’re likely wasting their time, although judicial surprises certainly aren’t rare.

We’re not opposed to measures that help low-income families send their children to private schools, especially in situations where the public schools aren’t providing the quality education that they need. But the program has to be legal.

Florida faced the same constitutional question and created a court-approved voucher program that gives tax credits instead of direct payments. The program is popular and appears successful.

North Carolina voucher proponents were fully briefed on the Florida program, but chose instead to do something the courts quickly overturned. Maybe we need some remedial classes at the General Assembly.

One Comment


  1. Jeff Bishop

    August 23, 2014 at 9:40 am

    “Florida faced the same constitutional question and created a court-approved voucher program that gives tax credits instead of direct payments.”

    Um, no, they didn’t. Florida, like most states (but not NC), has a Blaine Amendment specifically forbidding the government to spend any public money “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” Most private schools being religious or sectarian, that poses a very, very different constitutional problem for school voucher than your strained reading of Article IX, Section 6.

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