Letters to the Editor

Are school vouchers good or bad for North Carolina?

Darrell Allison, center, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina greets families and supporters as they celebrate the news that they will be able to stay in private schools now that the N.C. Supreme Court has ruled that vouchers are constitutional in Raleigh on Friday, July 24, 2015.
Darrell Allison, center, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina greets families and supporters as they celebrate the news that they will be able to stay in private schools now that the N.C. Supreme Court has ruled that vouchers are constitutional in Raleigh on Friday, July 24, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

Different standards

Regarding “2 studies differ on success of school vouchers in NC” (June 5): A new study concludes that students using state funded Opportunity Scholarships in North Carolina to attend private schools outperformed their public school counterparts on reading and math exams. That conclusion is unwarranted and highly misleading.

The findings by researchers at NC State apply at most to 245 voucher recipients who volunteered to take a specially administered test. As the researchers themselves note, any findings from this non-random sample cannot be generalized to the state’s more than 7,000 voucher recipients.

The fault is not with the researchers, who did the best they could with limited data that they managed to collect themselves. Rather, the problem lies with the legislature, which does not require private schools to use the same state tests as public schools. The result is that North Carolina is providing millions of dollars for private schools in a manner that makes it impossible for careful researchers to evaluate the impact of that funding on student achievement.

Helen F. Ladd

Professor Emerita

Sanford School of Public Policy

Duke University

‘Atheistic world view’

Regarding “Three out of four NC voucher schools fail on curriculum” (June 3): What I take away from Ned Barnett’s commentary is that all students who benefit from North Carolina’s school voucher program must receive educational materials that present a “world view” other than a “Christian biblical world view.”

My wife and I sent our four sons to Christian schools for their K-12 education (A Beka and Bob Jones University curricula were used) and each one of them went to Bob Jones University for either a bachelors degree or pre-professional education (one became an optometrist and one became a pharmacist).

They were certainly not “unprepared for college-level coursework or careers in certain fields.” Yes, they were taught that God’s Word can be taken literally, and that a Grand Canyon could be formed by the Great Flood. This is just another feeble attempt to bash Christians and promote an “atheistic world view” for all.

Larry N. Swanson

Fuquay-Varina

Leave out taxpayers

Regarding “2 studies differ on success of school vouchers in NC” (June 5): I am appalled to read that N.C. taxpayers are shelling out $29 million in vouchers to send students to religious schools using “biblical world view” textbooks and that this is scheduled to grow to $144 million annually by 2028-29. The total expenditure over that period would be $1.27 billion.

The League of Women Voters found that “77 percent of private schools receiving vouchers are using curricula that do not comply with state standards, leaving many students unprepared for college-level coursework or careers in certain fields.” Meanwhile, N.C. is ranked 35th in the nation for teacher pay and 43rd in per-pupil spending.

I attended an Alamance County commissioners meeting and listened as teachers and parents talked of schools with leaky roofs (at least one school with a mold problem), not enough textbooks to go around, teachers buying classroom supplies from their own salaries. All but one speaker was pleading for the commissioners to approve the school budget as presented.

A quality public school education should not be liberal or conservative issue, but with the radical religious right in power in the N.C. legislature, sadly that is not the case. Taxpayers should not be paying for religious school education. Period.

Debra Kaufman

Mebane

Charter ‘value’

Regarding “2 studies differ on success of school vouchers in NC” (June 5): Let me get this straight. The study conducted by NC State showed that students getting Opportunity Scholarships showed a positive, large and statistically significant edge on exams.

Parents of children prefer charter schools. Charter schools primarily benefit children of low and middle income parents. Charter schools cost taxpayers $4,200 per pupil versus $6,000 for regular public schools. And some people question the value of charter schools because the left-leaning League of Women Voters is afraid that a little religion might sneak into the curriculum.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Vincent M. DiSandro Sr.

Hillsborough

‘Stop this’

Regarding “2 studies differ on success of school vouchers in NC” (June 5): Public school teachers have a right to be marching downtown at the state House. Our state has spent $29 million on vouchers and that amount of money would go along way to giving teachers a badly needed raise, books, repairs for the schools and putting more teachers in low-income schools.

I don’t recall being asked, as a taxpayer, if I wanted my money spent in this manner. Please stop this and get our public education funding in North Carolina back to a competing number with the rest of the country instead of draining the budget on vouchers.

Dolores Banks

Cary

‘Unconstitutional’

Regarding “Judge was right to say NC vouchers are unconstitutional” (June 7): I strongly support the position that N.C. school vouchers are unconstitutional. Our founding fathers were not stupid in recognizing the danger of state supported private/religious institutions.

Many of our private/charter schools have a definite religious context in their curriculum, though subtle it may be. To use taxpayers’ support for any private school is an egregious misuse of public funds.

There is a better way to meet the needs of our children. By providing more resources in our public schools and more accountability assuring that these resources are effectively utilized could make a big difference in our public schools being more successful in helping our neediest children.

Let’s respect the wisdom of our founding fathers as well as informed commentators like Ned Barnett and stop the proliferation of charter schools in N.C. Replacing the misguided legislators who are endorsing this effort at election time is another way we can combat this dangerous intrusion into public school success.

Sarah Almblad

Cary

  Comments