On the national and statewide levels, Republicans are pushing private schools vouchers and policies that would benefit private education over public schools. Education law experts, advocates, parents and educators have raised concerns about the investments towards private schools while Republicans neglect public education funding.
For states like North Carolina where public schools have undergone decades of neglect and underfunding, proposed legislation, such as Senate Bill 406 and House Bill 23, would mean further divestment.
According to WRAL, advocates have argued that private school vouchers would divest hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools that better serve all of their students, and the vouchers wouldn’t cover the full cost of tuition at most private schools, making it an impractical option for many North Carolina families.
In addition, historically, private schools have had issues with discrimination, as private schools are not held to the same anti-discrimination laws and requirements to serve students with disabilities that govern public schools, according to Derek Black, an education law professor at the University of South Carolina.
“Evidence suggests that some of these schools are in fact discriminating against students at admission as well as providing questionable curriculum,” Black stated during an Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education subcommittee hearing in April.
“No matter what, private schools continue to pick and choose from student applicants based on academic credentials and other factors such as behavioral history,” Black said. “The net results are publicly financed programs that help to sort, segregate, and stratify students into demographic silos.”
As state Republicans continue to push their private school vouchers, crucial funding for public education such as The Leandro Comprehensive Plan remains ignored.
The court-mandated remedial plan gives a blueprint for new policies and systems that would funnel much-needed money into various efforts in early childhood, pre-kindergarten, and K-12 classrooms, increase support staff, attract high-quality educators, and address neglected school infrastructures.
However, state Republicans are adamant in refusing to implement the plan, despite calls from educators, parents and students.
“The role of our state government is to ensure access to that education, but the expansion of vouchers for those who can afford to send their students to private schools will only perpetuate a system that deprives those communities most in need of resources,” NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly said in a statement.