Commentary

School voucher pork: Editorial calls on Cooper to review, crack down on waste

This morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com has a new and creative idea for getting some kind of rein on the legislature’s currently unfettered spending on private school vouchers.

This is from “More questions, more answers needed on worth of private school vouchers”:

“Anyone who might be looking for an assessment of or justification for North Carolina’s private school voucher program won’t find them in two new studies from N.C. State University. The information isn’t there and subsequent studies will analyze early academic impact. These studies shed NO light on the performance or value of the taxpayer-financed ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ program.

That doesn’t mean that private school voucher fans won’t twist the findings to show the program which helps make private schools more affordable for low-income families, is working.

But in both reports, it is the questions that weren’t asked along with the facts and answers that were not gathered, that are the most significant. There is NOTHING in either report that shows the program is achieving any of its goals. Nor do they provide ANY EVIDENCE that the voucher students are better or worse off, learning any better, more or less, than at their previous public schools.”

After detailing some of the researchers’ findings and the almost complete lack of oversight and accountability that accompanies the current voucher scheme, the editorial makes this eminently reasonable recommendation:

“While the legislature won’t hold the schools that receive voucher funds accountable, we urge Gov. Roy Cooper to follow the example of former Gov. Jim Martin, who in 1985 ordered his budget director to review every pork barrel spending item in the state budget. Cooper should have his budget office assess whether the private schools getting state funds are proper businesses, appropriately accredited and using the funds as intended.

North Carolina taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent. The legislature should require appropriate accountability and transparency from the schools. The governor needs to display the determination and independence to demand it himself if the legislature won’t.”

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