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The Star News in Wilmington reports that Myrtle Grove Christian School, which is eligible to receive taxpayer-funded private school vouchers beginning with the 2014-15 school year, will also begin denying admission or continued enrollment to gay students and children from gay families in 2014.

All students’ families will be forced to sign a policy that says they will not support or participate in homosexual activity.

A letter outlining this policy change said:

“The school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home or the activities of a student are counter to or are in opposition to the Biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”

Myrtle Grove Christian School is listed in the Division of Non-Public Education’s Directory of Non-Public Schools, which means it will be eligible to receive taxpayer-funded private school vouchers in 2014.

The Wilmington Faith and Values website has an interesting post up about the intersection of discriminatory practices like Myrtle Grove’s and the school’s eligibility for taxpayer funds, in addition to examining other Wilmington private schools’ policies on homosexuality.

The NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) began accepting applications on October 1 for the Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities program. As of last week, the NCSEAA has received 248 applications submitted by parents wishing to receive $3,000 in taxpayer funds per semester for their special needs children to attend private and home schools in the state.

“We will begin notifying parents of their award status right around November 15,” said Elizabeth McDuffie, Director of Grants, Training and Outreach for the NCSEAA. Those who are awarded the grants will receive reimbursement checks to apply toward tuition, fees and other related expenses incurred for the spring 2014 semester. The program should be able to accommodate roughly 875 students, depending on award amounts.

Private and home schools in North Carolina are largely unregulated, but they do have to comply with minimal state regulations, including providing evidence of fire and safety inspections, immunization records and standardized test results. The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) publishes annually a list of private and home schools that are in compliance with state law.

NCSEAA is relying on the list that DNPE posted for the academic year 2012-13, in addition to their lists of recently closed and opened schools, as their list of eligible nonpublic schools to which parents can send their children with special needs and receive disability scholarships.

NC Policy Watch previously reported that DNPE’s list of recognized private schools includes a number that employ just one teacher and a handful of students. The director of DNPE, David Mills, told NC Policy Watch that those schools were just starting out and possibly catering to accelerated students or students with disabilities.

“We are aware of those schools,” said McDuffie, after a long pause when asked whether these schools raise a red flag with NCSEAA. “They do qualify according to the statute.” Read More

Politico’s Stephanie Simon has a compelling story from this weekend about how American taxpayers will spend more than $1 billion to help parents send their kids to private schools – yet there is scant evidence that this endeavor will actually help students succeed.

Milwaukee, Cleveland, New Orleans – all hallowed ground for school vouchers, yet their stories point to failure instead of success for student guinea pigs.

In Milwaukee, just 13 percent of voucher students scored proficient in math and 11 percent made the bar in reading this spring. That’s worse on both counts than students in the city’s public schools. In Cleveland, voucher students in most grades performed worse than their peers in public schools in math, though they did better in reading.

In New Orleans, voucher students who struggle academically haven’t advanced to grade-level work any faster over the past two years than students in public schools, many of which are rated D or F, state data show.

And across Louisiana, many of the most popular private schools for voucher students posted miserable scores in math, reading, science and social studies this spring, with fewer than half their voucher students achieving even basic proficiency and fewer than 2 percent demonstrating mastery. Seven schools did so badly, state Superintendent John White barred them from accepting new voucher students — though the state agreed to keep paying tuition for the more than 200 voucher students already enrolled, if they chose to stay.

Beginning in 2014, North Carolina will begin its own voucher program, funneling $10 million in funds that would have gone to public schools to parents wishing to send their kids to private schools. I’ve written a series of stories for a special feature that takes a look at what we can expect as the Opportunity Scholarship Program approaches implementation.

One of the things people rightfully dislike about their government is when they are not told the truth. Sadly, in the ongoing debate about North Carolina’s new school voucher plan many politicians have been doing just that.

In an apparent effort to lessen the controversy, some legislators have been claiming that that it is “essentially a pilot program.” It is not. The “Opportunity Scholarship Act” is a full-blown government program similar to ones that have failed miserably in several jurisdictions. It has no expiration date and its sponsors have made plain their intention to expand it.

In explaining the education budget, one state senator wrote:

In regards to the Opportunity Scholarship Act, this is a pilot program for low income families.  Many children in low income families are forced to attend low-performing schools because they do not have the opportunity that wealthier families have to move to better schools.  We simply want to make sure that everybody has the same opportunity to succeed; it is by no means a sign that lawmakers lack confidence in our public schools.

At least four obvious responses deserve mention: Read More