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Report: School Vouchers Won't Improve Education



April 30, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina lawmakers are considering several bills that would shift education money away from public schools and into the hands of private entities and individuals. A report released by the North Carolina Justice Center raises concerns about the use of vouchers and highlights several studies that show that student performance does not improve within a voucher system.

NCJC policy analyst Matt Ellinwood, the author of the report, warned that this trend is not a good one.

"This movement towards things like vouchers is sort of coming at a bad time where budgets are getting tighter because of the recession," he said. "So we're getting less and less money going to the public schools and then these programs like vouchers just take little bits more away."

During this legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation that would offer a tax credit for home-schooled pupils and private-school scholarships for families who fall below 300 percent of the federal poverty line.

According to Ellinwood, school vouchers favor the private sector, with companies trying to profit from the public's need to educate their children. He also pointed out that 90 percent of children attend public schools.

"I sort of look at it like it's all a big distraction from the issue at hand and the fact that we really need to look seriously at the public schools and invest in them in order to get the most bang for our buck," he declared.

North Carolina lawmakers are not considering traditional school vouchers, which offer tuition certificates that can be used at private schools, primarily because of successful legal challenges to such programs. Instead, their proposed voucher system would come in the form of tax credits or education savings accounts.

Bills regarding school vouchers are HB 144, 269 and 944.

A link to the NCJC report is at NCJustice.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - NC