Ross Donnelly: Vouchers harm public schools

May 3, 2013 

A private windfall

Rep. Paul Stam’s argument for school vouchers is not convincing (“Wide support for school choice,” May 1 letter). He cites a Nobel laureate who initiated the voucher idea but is not swayed by Nobel laureate Barack Obama, who opposes vouchers, or Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who endorses strong public school systems.

He names other countries that offer vouchers as a “widespread practice,” but at least in France vouchers are offered only for secular schools under contract to the state, and less than 17 percent of students use them. Perhaps that counts as “widespread.” He seems to believe that if a student and his per-student funding leave a public school, that school’s expenses for salaries, heating/cooling, maintenance, transportation and other operational expenses will also be reduced, when actually only the funding will be reduced. Or does he expect to reduce teacher salaries, library books, desks, music stands, athletic equipment, bus seats and even room temperature by an incremental amount for each voucher given?

North Carolina would benefit from a stronger public school system. A voucher program will not achieve that goal, and I believe would actually harm our public schools. I can see, however, how a voucher program would be a windfall for private schools.

Ross Donnelly, Apex

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