This morning’s editorial in the Fayetteville Observer takes a rather charitable view toward parents who signed their children up for North Carolina’s new school voucher plan and then found themselves without the subsidy once Judge Robert Hobgood rightfully struck down the program as blatantly unconstitutional. The paper is okay with last week’s Court of Appeals ruling that the state should go ahead and disburse the money to the private schools in which the parents enrolled their kids.
Reasonable minds can differ on this generous take; after all, it’s the private schools (which knew the risks) that are really out the money. But the paper is right that, assuming this is a one-time deal, the damage will be minimal. The remainder of editorial is largely spot on, however, with its take on the voucher program more generally and going forward:
In his earlier ruling against the program, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood said it not only gave tax dollars to non-public schools, but established no standards for the schools to which the money would go.
Friday’s decision wisely allows the children already enrolled to continue through this school year. There’s no point in penalizing families who believed they were part of a legitimate state program.
But lawmakers should stop hoping for a court to read the constitution crossed-eyed and discern something that isn’t there. The General Assembly should prepare for the rejection of Opportunity Scholarships.
Hobgood’s ruling also spelled out the way legislators can fix this: “The expenditure of public funds raised by tax action to finance the operation of privately operated, managed and controlled schools … would require a constitutional amendment approved by the vote of the citizens of North Carolina.”
To preserve Opportunity Scholarships, stop pretending and begin the amendment process. And also include standards to hold participating private schools accountable.
Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.