Durham News: Opinion

March 28, 2014

Your letters, March 30

Josh Ravitch has managed to write an evidence-free attack against school vouchers (DN, March 14, bit.ly/1h6gjEE).

Vouchers benefits kids and society

Josh Ravitch has managed to write an evidence-free attack against school vouchers (DN, March 14, bit.ly/1h6gjEE). If he were aware of the growing body of research on vouchers, perhaps he would be astonished, for it shows that vouchers are beneficial to kids and society on almost every measure.

For one, several studies actually show that vouchers increase racial and wealth integration, opposite to Ravitch’s rather offensive implication that private schools are for rich, white kids only. Without vouchers, private schools are accessible largely for families with the money to both pay for taxes to support government schools and for private tuition. That means a lack of vouchers actually increases racial and financial segregation.

Studies also show that private school students are more tolerant of people they do not agree with. That’s an environment more children should be able to enjoy, especially since the lack of it seems to have produced folks like Ravitch who are ignorant enough to slander Christian, Jewish, and Muslim schools as rife with “indoctrination” for merely teaching their historic beliefs, such as loving your enemy and caring for the poor. That’s definitely something society needs less of, right?

Joy Pullmann

The writer is an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute in Chicago.

Affordable Care Act is working

As a board member of the N.C. League of Women Voters with a long career in the financing of health care, I was chagrined by both the tone and the content of the information presented by Chris Conover to the Joint Study Commission on the Affordable Care Act in Raleigh.

If the four co-chairs of the so-called ‘Study Group’ were trying to defend their anti-ACA stance, then inviting Mr. Conover to present an overview of the ACA was understandable. If instead their intent was to educate the legislators and the audience about the ACA, which should be their intent, then they failed dismally.

Mr. Conover’s presentation couldn’t have been more anti-ACA, more slanted, and frankly more off target from a factual perspective. By making an offhand and derogatory mention of Sandra Fluke, and by prefacing his remarks with the suggestion that the initial “A” in ACA should stand for “Abominable,” Mr. Conover was intentionally inflammatory.

I am horrified that this is what passes for “study” content and that this is the way our legislators get their information. Informing legislators who are responsible for making critical decisions about the health-care services available to North Carolinians should be grounded in facts and substantive analysis, not intentional misinformation and rhetoric. With over 200,000 North Carolinians already enrolled in Marketplace plans, it is clear that the ACA is here to stay and that our legislators should get with the program.

Janet Hoy

The writer is the vice president of the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties.

State’s fiscal priority

In the March 5 news article “Pope scolds UNC system on funds” (N&O, March 5) state budget director Art Pope claims there are insufficient revenues in the state’s general fund to meet the budget request of the UNC Board of Governors.

What Pope knows well but chose to omit is that there will always be revenue shortfalls for the many programs that benefit the people of this state as long as Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-controlled legislature make tax cuts for the wealthy their No. 1 fiscal priority.

The so-called “tax reform” bill passed in 2013 by the Republican House and Senate majorities and signed by the governor will make budgetary pressures even worse in the 2015-16 budget, at the same time that the typical millionaire will receive a $12,000 tax cut.

Pope should be straight with us. He should admit that, unless the upper-end income tax cut of 2013 is reversed, the general fund will shrink significantly in 2015. In addition to UNC funding being shortchanged, the tax cuts are set to deliver extreme budget cutbacks to all public schools and areas of state government.

Kate Fellman


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